CALLED BY GOD AND HIRED BY A CONGREGATION
Pastors sense God’s call in their lives and then choose to prepare themselves to respond to that call. If their sense of God’s call leads them to consider being a pastor of a congregation, then their next step is to seek to discern which church is an appropriate response to God’s call. But it doesn’t end there. Pastors can also sense God’s call to leave a congregation.
God’s call also includes particular directions within a congregation. Sometimes that is as much a change of emphasis as it is location. Further, as spiritual leader for a congregation, a pastor tries to stay attuned to God’s call for that congregation.
REFLECTING OF GOD’S CALL WITH AN INTERIM
Again, because of his or her experience as a pastor, the interim is in a unique position to help the church leadership consider how they enable both the congregation and the pastor to reflect in a healthy manner on the dynamics of God’s call in their lives. Neither the pastor nor the congregation benefits from neglecting to pay attention to the mysterious nature of God’s call in their lives.
Consider some of the following items in both honoring and being sensitive to a pastor’s responsiveness to God’s call in his or her life.
1. The interim can begin with a Bible study on God’s call to open up a connection between the pastor’s sense of call and that of both the leadership and the congregation.
2. A congregation can set a tone of honoring God’s call by occasionally celebrating all those from the congregation who have felt called to ordained ministry.
3. Make sure the congregation knows and celebrates with the pastor the anniversary of his or her ordination and call to this congregation?
4. Ask where the demands of the present ministry stand in tension with the pastor’s original sense of God’s call to the ministry? This doesn’t mean that either the prior understanding for the present reality is wrong, but it does recognize that responding to god’s call is a dynamic process.;
5. Where does the pastor’s sense of call interact with God’s call for this particular congregation?
6. How often does the session ask the pastor to share his or her current understanding of God’s call in his or her life and God’s call for the congregation?
7. Discuss with the pastor areas where his or her passion for ministry extends beyond the congregation proper?
8. How can the session respond in a constructive fashion when the sense of call for the pastor and the congregation seem to conflict? Can a constructive resolution of the conflict deepen everyone’s sense of God’s call?
9. How does a pastor or congregation distinguish between God’s call and one’s personal comfort or ego gratification for either the pastor or members of the congregation?
10. Consider a conversation with the pastor’s family about God’s call in their lives in relation to God’s call in the pastor’s life?
GOD’S CALL AND THE CONGREGATION
Add to the list and see if paying attention to God’s call doesn’t affect how everyone makes decisions. Plan how a regular conversation about God’s call can enhance the entire congregational experience.