The Pastor's Ponderings is a weekly note from one of the pastors that is sent to the congregation. If you would like to be included in the list of subscribers to the Ponderings, you can subscribe here. Current subscribers wishing to unsubscribe can do that here as well. The latest Pondering is below.
We Are On the Same Team
I played power forward in my basketball days. That means I was often going up for rebounds against other guys. Some of those guys were on my team and occasionally I would be fighting with one of my teammates for the basketball. We forgot or didn't recognize we were on the same team. The issue was not that we were competing hard, but that we were competing against the wrong person.
I think this happens in the church too! The Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist church has a policy to prevent this type of pastoral competition and I am required to report it to you. I wish I didn't have to since I think when we realize we are all on the same team and serving the same kingdom, this isn't an issue. Here is the main piece of the policy that I am required to share.
"Pastors shall have a clear understanding with former congregations that they will not return to officiate at baptisms, weddings, and funerals, or do pastoral counseling or pastoral visitation in that parish." - para. 2412.2
First, I don't think I am going to have a problem with this living in Seattle, but I do plan to respect this policy from afar. I want to give ample time and space for the next pastor to fully engage ministry at Glen Mar. This is something Pastor Andy did for me and, I plan to do the same for the next pastor.
Second, even with this policy, I know pastors who have ignored it and saw themselves in competition with the incoming pastor or vice-versa. One of the things I think Pastor Andy and I did right was that we saw ourselves as part of the same team serving the same church. We didn't see ourselves in competition with each other. We both wanted Glen Mar to be at its best. We were on the same team and we shared a common goal. When this happens, there is no policy needed.
The same is true with my change of denominations. I wish the church universal would be less competitive with each other and see that we are all on the same team. Free Methodists and United Methodists essentially are serving the same King and kingdom. Both denominations are on the same team. There is enough need in the world for more than one denomination, and I wish the church could focus on the real competition which is not with other churches, but the things of this world that drag us away from God. We need to compete hard against the darkness in this world and not against each other.
So, I won't be jumping on any planes to fly back to do pastoral ministry at Glen Mar. That doesn't mean I don't care for you or the church. It means I actually do care for you and the church. I want the church to remain whole and continue to do great ministry under new leadership. Here is my ongoing prayer for the church which Glen Mar's vision comes from:
"I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is." - Ephesians 3:16-18 (NLT)
No matter how far God calls us remember, we are all on the same team.