Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interim Ministry Lectionary Preaching

ShortStop is dedicated to life's transitions experienced in congregations, personal life, and families.  Transitions and what churches call "interim ministry" are "short stops" on the journey to new beginnings.  The ShortStop Lectionary Blog is one way to help preachers in the transition times to find ideas from the Revised Common Lectionary.  Each text will be considered but the focus each week will be on the text(s) that will be most helpful for preaching during an interim transition time. The preacher will be able to "connect the dots" creatively with themes of the lections. 

Proper 5 (10)
Second Sunday after Pentecost
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
I wonder what it would be like to approach this text using an “interim ministry transition lens”.   Most of us see change and transition as something that may be good but it involves chaos and difficulty.  Paul’s response to the Corinthian congregation’s questions about Apostleship and Paul’s authenticity as an apostle is one that move the reader from old to new.  Everything, even leadership change in the congregation is to increase the glory of God (v.15). We don’t lose heart in the midst of our difficulty because something new is already emerging 4:18-5:1).
It might be interesting to point to the “new” that is emerging.  In one interim congregation, they were challenged by being all Caucasian in a mostly African American community.  One of their future stories was to become more multi-cultural.  One Sunday, the Vacation Bible School children and leaders presented a recap of the week for the congregation.  As I looked at the ages, the various racial and ethnic backgrounds, I realized that the future was already emerging.  The emergence was not the way they had planned, but it was real.

1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15)
After a long pastoral search process, I heard one of the congregation’s  search group say, “choosing a pastor is like “casting lots”.  Interim transition congregations have an abundance of protocols and handbooks full of wisdom for choosing a pastor. However, even with all that guidance, pastoral selection is, in the end, and act of faith.   Samuel’s call to select Israel’s first monarch gives us some interesting connections for preaching during the interim transition.  
Samuel was the last of the Judges and a huge change was underway in governance.  The people were demanding a king “like the other nations”.  Samuel’s sons, the heirs apparent to his role as Judge and spiritual leader in Israel’s theocratic form of governance were not acceptable.  Samuel was old and his sons did not “follow in his ways”. 
It was time for a “change in leadership”.  How often have we heard that line?  I can’t help but wonder at how easy it is to leave God out of the process.  The people wanted a human king like the other nations. God as king was nice in theory but not in practice.   Verse 7 records, and the LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. “it is I whom they are rejecting…”  Pastoral search is a discernment process – sometimes it is a struggle to keep God in that process also.  Corporate processes, leadership inventories and interviewing techniques can easily push prayer and silence to the second chair.  

Bob Anderson
Toledo, OH 
 Interim Ministry Specialist
 Life Coach for Ministry Professionals

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