It’s that time of year again, when the Bishop and Cabinet immerse themselves day and night in the appointment-making process. We will be at Myrtle Beach March 2-6, but we won’t be dipping our toes in the ocean. We will be praying, discussing, discerning, and studying pastor profiles and church profiles. It is a team effort, and the entire Cabinet votes on EVERY appointment. There are many factors that impact our work: spouses who can’t move because of a job; families want good schools for their children; clergy couples; 40+ retirements; not enough clergy being ordained; churches wanting young creative pastors (with 25 years of experience); churches needing to lower salaries; several clergy leaving pastoral ministry. Some pastors who didn’t ask for a move, may be “plucked up.” That’s happened to me twice in my ministry, and its a little stressful! You get the picture. This is an arduous process. It’s like putting together a puzzle, but all the pieces don’t quite fit exactly to make a perfect picture.
With all its challenges, its is who we are as Christians and as Methodists. Jesus was an itinerant minister. He rarely stayed in one place very long, but instead traveled to small towns, the wilderness, by the Sea of Galilee, into Jerusalem, and even into Samaria. He was not confined to one “congregation” but instead went about the countryside, seeking lost sheep. The apostles followed Jesus’ example, and Paul journeyed across the Mediterranean, sharing good news. Our founder, John Wesley said
“…I should myself preach even my congregation ‘asleep’ were I to stay in one place an entire year.”
“No one whom I ever yet knew has all the talents which are needful for beginning, continuing, and perfecting the work of grace in a whole congregation.”
There are all kinds of rumors, myth and mystery about appointment-making week. Let me assure you we are not just throwing darts on a dart board. We are very prayerful, careful and hopeful that we are matching the gifts of pastors to the needs of churches. We covet your prayers as we enter into this season. Despite our imperfect system, we serve a perfect God, who will take all our efforts, and make ministry happen. Pastors come and pastors go. Let us remember the words of Paul, an itinerant preacher. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7