Thursday, January 01, 2004


Our church is looking for a new senior pastor. Nothing juicy has happened. The former senior pastor resigned for health reasons a few months ago, so that puts us in the position of looking for a new one. Now, the quest for a new senior pastor, as one might expect, is fraught with politics and prejudice. In our situation, as I see it, there are two factors compounding the matter: Age, and Target Audience. Age. Put simply, there are some people who feel that the new senior pastor should not be over a certain age, let’s say… 45. I suppose the request for this requirement – you can’t really call it a pre-requisite because pre-requisites are usually something you attain, not grow out of – anyway, the request for this requirement is probably driven by the age of those making the request. It is probably to be expected that such a request will be made, and there are some pragmatic reasons to be had for such a request: you relate a bit better with someone who is closer to your own age; you can expect a younger person to stay on the job longer than an older person; you can expect a younger person to draw in a younger crowd; etc. But, pragmatism aside, it is an invalid request. In matters of leadership, youthful exuberance loses to the wisdom of experience every time. Truth be told, if it comes down simply to a question of age, then the congregation should be looking for someone over 45, not under. Yet, age is not sufficient, in and of itself, to be used as a determining indicator of the worthiness of an individual to lead a congregation as senior pastor. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is why it is not among the qualities that Paul lists in either Titus or 1 Timothy for leadership positions within the church. Target Audience. Seeker-sensitive, Purpose Driven Life, Purpose Driven Church, whatever… we as a church seem to have fallen for the idea that we are to make our church service and / or life as appealing to the non-Christian as possible – to the point of glossing over sound Church doctrines. We seem to be looking for a pastor that is concerned with being seeker-centered. After all, so the thinking goes, our membership is lacking and there are many post-moderns out there just yearning for an experience to give their lives meaning… and we can give that to them, but only if we change church from the boring humdrum ritual they perceive it to be. The only problem here is that we are not meant to make church exciting to non-Christians. We are meant to worship God. If church seems foreign and / or boring to a non-Christian, rejoice. What? Rejoice? Yes, rejoice. Should you be surprised that a non-Christian misunderstands the liturgy? We have got to come back to the understanding that Sunday church service is primarily about worshipping God and developing our spiritual formation – discipleship. Evangelism takes a back seat to that. Ouch! As Greg Koukl likes to say, we need to be Seeker-sensitive, not Seeker-centered.

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