I had the opportunity today to talk with Ben Homesley the Chief Operating Officer of Vanderbloemen Search Group (VSG). VSG is a Texas-based company that serves as the only ‘Pastor Search Firm with an in-house team.’ Their work falls right within the wheelhouse of my own research in that they are helping churches with transition and succession. Follow the link to read my profile of VSG over at pastortransition.com.
We are in the Season of Advent. The time of preparation for the ‘Coming’ (the word Advent means coming) of Christ’s Birth. Each week we light a candle to commemorate the themes of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Last Sunday we lit the Candle of Hope. It remains lit as we remember that Christ, who was born in Bethlehem, will come again to fulfill all of God’s promises to us. The second candle of Advent is the Candle of Love. God’s love is a perfect love. He holds nothing back (He loves us so much He sent His only Son in order to prove it!). God, in love, gives us everything we need to live a life of hope.
This morning I read the following from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s I want to Live These Days With You: A Year of daily Devotions. It is entitled The Mystery of Love. This is what Bonhoeffer wrote:
Mystery does not mean simply not knowing something. The greatest mystery is not the most distant star; on the contrary, the closer something comes to us and the better we know it, then the more mysterious it becomes for us. The greatest mystery to us is not the most distant person, but the one next to us. The mystery of other people is not reduced by getting to know more and more about them. Rather, in their closeness they become more and more mysterious. And the final depth of all mystery is when two people come so close to each other that they love each other. Nowhere in the world does one feel the might of the mysterious and its wonder as strongly as here. When two people know everything about each other, the mystery of the love between them becomes infinitely great. And only in this love do they understand each other, know everything about each other, know each other completely. And yet, the more they love each other and know about each other in love, the more deeply they know the mystery of their love. Thus knowledge about each other does not remove the mystery, but rather makes it more profound. The very fact that the other person is so near to me is the greatest mystery.
Of course that Christ would want to get close to any of us is the mystery that we will ponder from now through eternity. In the Gospel of St. John we are told that For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God’s perfect love is shown in and through Christ. And His love never ends.
This morning at City Church we lit the candle of love to remind us that Jesus brings us God’s love and shows us how to love others (my life for yours). This ‘mysterious’ love of getting close to another is like a light shining in a dark place. This is the love we find in Christ. A mystery indeed!
Published by the Leadership Network, authors Carolyn Weese and J. Russell Crabtree offer an excellent resource on some of the difficult questions that can come up when churches work through pastoral transition. This is one of the many resources that I used when researching my own study. For more information, read my review over at pastor transition.com
When I was researching material for my doctoral project I was studying a particular case study involving pastors who commit adultery and I was reminded of Dr. John Armstrong’s superb text: The Stain That Stays: The Church’s response to the sexual misconduct of its leaders. With the latest sex scandal involving Doug Phillips and his church, I went back and re-read some of the material for a two-part series I posted on the pastortransition.com website. As a follow-up I offer the following review of Dr. Armstrong’s text. If you haven’t read his book–you need to! This review hopefully will provide more reasons as to why his is an invaluable text! Click the link to read on…
Doug Phillips resignation is sadly not an isolated incident. There are churches with much smaller profiles who are wrestling through the reality of their pastor breaking his marriage vow. What does a church do when that happens? Over at pastortransition.com I answer just a few questions that will naturally arise within the congregation.
This past week Doug Phillips, a prominent leader within the evangelical community, resigned his leadership position from his popular homeschool organization, Vision Forum Ministries, due to an adulterous relationship with a woman. You can read his public resignation letter here.
Over the next few days, I will be posting a two-part series at pastortransition.com that will examine how churches can not only work to prevent this kind of situation within their own congregation, but I will also seek to answer some basic questions that will naturally arise should a church find itself in this particular transition.
Over at pastortransition.com I posted my latest blog on what churches can and should be doing to help pastors financially prepare for retirement. If you are a member of a local church or perhaps in church leadership this is something that concerns you–because it concerns your pastor. Click the link to read the article.