Typecasting in Ministry

Here’s something you probably never thought about. There are two types of Christians. What are the two types?

Catholic v. Protestant? No. That’s not what I mean.

Pre- v. Amillennialists? No.

Pro- v. Anti-Trump? No. 

Conservative v. Progressive? No.

For keeping Daylight Savings all year v. keep changing our clocks twice/year? No!!!

But there are two types: 1) those who think there are two types and . . . 2) those who don’t think there are two types. HA! (Thanks to “Laugh USA” on Sirius radio; if I ever hear the routine again, I’ll give credit to the comedian.)

Actually, there really are two camps. I rediscovered this in a small town in Texas.

I went to the church to help them after the pastor resigned. I discovered two types of members: Those who were glad the pastor was gone and those who were sad about it. 

The members were also divided regarding an old parsonage which occupies the front yard of the church, adjacent to the sanctuary and in front of the education wing. One type of member wants to sell the parsonage to an investor, who will convert it into apartments. “It’s full of black mold and in disrepair. It hasn’t been used in four years, and the church doesn’t have the money or workers to address the issues,” this type of member says. The other type of members can’t imagine selling the “historic” parsonage or having an apartment building on the front lawn. 

Then there’s the idea of all the work which needs to be done in the church’s various ministries. They told me they had two types of members: 1) the small percentage still working and 2) the majority who just come, but do nothing.

After my presentation on interim ministry, we came to a closing prayer I hadn’t anticipated. The deacon of the week prayed, “Please, dear God, help us. We are the most wonderful and beautiful nation in the world. But it’s obvious that we’ll soon be at war with Russia. Protect us from this coming war!

After spending an hour on the church’s crises, here was a gentleman consumed with another issue. Somehow, that prayer led me to realize there is a whole other way to see the two types of Christians in all our churches. 

First, there are those who are so concerned about the very survival of their church that they can’t even start to think about the big issues surrounding us (COVID, war, political divide, social justice, climate emergency, racism, moldy parsonages, etc.). Second, there are those who are so concerned about the world’s huge issues—or maybe just one particular issue (see list above) that they can’t think about what’s happening in their own church (decline in membership, radical attendance downturn, virtual attendees disappearing, baptisms non-existent, can’t reach budget, faithful have forgotten core principles of faith, not enough willing to serve to keep the ministries going, the pool of new pastors at a pitifully small number, moldy parsonages, etc.).

No matter how people in your church typecast (literally) the issues, I now come to my point. There are two types of ministers: 1) Those who will preach to ‘em, love ‘em, but leave ‘em alone—thus avoiding the stress of dealing with conflict. And 2) those who will help the two types talk, work through their issues, and learn to love and serve with those who might be a different type.

What type of interim are you?

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