A while back my church voted to call a new senior pastor. The man in question accepted our call. It seemed we were stealing him from another church. I have a question: aren’t there some ethics involved in this?
At our church business meeting, the pastoral search committee moderator (a retired senior police officer) said light-heartedly that some of the committee’s activities had of necessity been kept secret, so that other churches not find out we might be trying to steal their pastor.
It was a long meeting, and towards the end we learned that the man we were calling was just two years or so into a three-year contract with a particular church. I didn’t know the details of that contract. Maybe it could be cut short at any time. But the impression we gained at the meeting was that he would be breaking his contact to join us.
When someone raised a question about this, a member of the pastoral search committee simply said that, according to its website, the candidate pastor’s church regularly changed pastors.
Which seems to be saying – if others are doing it, why shouldn’t we?.
What sort of message is that? I sent my three kids to Sunday School and church youth group precisely hoping that they would learn about transcendent values, about right and wrong and about not following the ways of the world.
Nine days before the meeting, which took place in December, one of our pastors told the congregation that, some months earlier, God had revealed to him that around Christmas time we would be appointing our new senior pastor, and that the man would be aged 39 (exactly the age of the candidate pastor). At the meeting itself, the members of the pastoral search committee spoke in detail of how God had led them to believe this man was the right person for our church.
It would have taken a brave church member to speak out against the man, and few did. The vote in his favor was overwhelming. (For the record, I also voted in his favor.)
Now I know that God can over-rule the law of contracts, not to mention criminal law, natural law and any other law. But I’m not sure that our church should.
I was also uncomfortable that the man we called was pastor of an expatriate church in Asia. I would imagine that such a church might face a long and expensive process in finding and bringing over a new English-speaking pastor.
Frankly, I’m confused.
What does anyone else think?