Thursday, June 03, 2010

Essential reading from Richard Floyd

There's a superb blog post on Richard Floyd's blog, A Retired Pastor Ruminates, called, The Ministry and its Discontents: pastors in peril.

I've mentioned 'bullying, abusive congregations' on this blog before; Floyd has these in mind, but only partly. What his main concern is that where a church conducts a review of a pastor and doesn't conduct a review of itself, it's heading down a dangerous track. Early in the piece he writes:

...pastors in peril are nothing new, but I have been noticing a discouraging pattern in my newsletter reading lately. And I must interject here that I have known lazy and incompetent ministers, and others who were just in over their heads, but that is not what I am talking about here. Several of my friends who are smart, wise, bright, hard-working and faithful have suddenly found themselves in peril.

Typically it starts with some sort of a parish self-study or pastoral assessment. That should be harmless enough, right? Who can be against transparency and accountability? But my heart sinks when I read in the newsletter about the formation of such a group, because sure enough, when the results come in there are “concerns” about the pastor, and a special committee is created to “address the concerns.” The newsletters typically report such grave findings in a kind of code, but you don’t have to be a genius to read between the lines.

Floyd is a man of considerable experience, and he's obviously been through the tough times (as some of his other blog posts have noted). Here he writes in an almost elder statesman style, as one who views the difficulties from the vantage point of acquired wisdom.

This blog post is essential reading.

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