My senior pastor (SP) has hired a “management consultant” (MC) to work with all of us on staff in defining our goals for 2009. I’m a systems person and a planner, so it’s not a stretch for me to write out a strategic plan and use mission/vision/values or goals/objectives/strategies. I’m part-time because I’m full-time in seminary. The idea of not managing by panic is a great thing.
Where I am uncomfortable is that the “consultant” is a pastor who was first employed in sales in the (no lie) used car business, then got an M.Div.
SO. My SP now says that the MC wants copies of our reports and weekly stat’s. MC’s style is slick, market-driven and – worst of all – sexist. I can’t stand him interpersonally or professionally. He just grates on my nerves.
I want to increase my abilities in communication.
I also want to do a better job of preaching the Word, but I am NOT in agreement that God is a “product” to be “packaged.”
I’ve persevered at this job because I have a year until I graduate and it would be helpful to have a long-term pastoral job on my resume. But at what cost? Am I selling my soul here?
Is this an opportunity for me to develop patience and perspective on “how not to lead the church”?
Ceramic Episcopalian writes
This one is pushing too many of my buttons for me to formulate a good answer, but if the situation is as the questioner says then my basic advice would be to start looking for another job right now and Do Not Engage with this situation. It sounds like a recipe for disaster-- get out with your faith intact while you can.
Oh, my sister, I ache for you. Unfortunately the Church has a bad habit of employing people as 'consultants' who are available precisely because they have not made it in other areas of ministry. We have seen this multiple times in our denomination -- often the good-old-boys hiring them because they are buddies. Well .... so much for that.
1.) Yes, you could do it as an exercise in "patience" and to be able to have conversation with other staff members about his approach and any differences you all may have with it. Sometimes that can be helpful.
2.) The question you could raise is this: Since you are in seminary full time and are part-time student on staff, perhaps you would not be required to work with this consultant. After all, you are in the midst of intensive study and development for ministry in the seminary context and are working on these very issues through that process.
3.) Depending on your relationship with the Senior Pastor, you could choose to share your knowledge of this "consultant" and your concerns. Obviously, this is the most risky approach.
Rev Abi offers some suggestions:
Here is my suggestion.
I suggest you go to the Senior Pastor and ask him, what he wants you in particular to write, since you are part-time. How he envisions this to help you help the church. Play Columbo if you have to get clarity. And use that as then your guiding standard for what you then write. Keep the Senior Pastor informed as well as seeking his guidance.
You are part time; you are in a learning situation. Use it as such, to learn the good and bad of church, church politics, and church management. Even ask the guy what he went through at the previous church and what did he learn from that experience so you can learn from him. Again be a bit like Columbo. What would he have done differently? What advise would he have given himself if he was his MC?
I don't know what denomination you are in to know how this all works in your particular situation. But as Methodist we write our goals and objectives with the Staff Parish Relations Committee into a format that is called a Shared Covenant. This goes to our District Supervisor and becomes the means by which we are reviewed and evaluated. You can look to outside resources to help you put this together if need be, but it is always with the knowledge of Staff Parish Relations Committee. I only say this to share one pattern for doing this. There are many.
In fact yesterday I spoke to a friend of mine who has written a format for this that I am going to be looking at using called 360.
I don't know that you are selling your soul, but you are showing that you are cooperating as a team player even though you are part time. And when this MC gives you advice and consultation, you have a means to ask questions. You can say, I want to know how this helps me help the church? How does this fit into the vision of the church? And ask it in the name of learning since you are still in school. Of course you may be learning how not to do things, the effects that may have on people and churches and how to not do at a later time and why. Find friends, and colleagues you can complain to. Keep the Pastor informed of where and how things are going for you. Don't join the gossip; encourage them to like wise tell the Pastor.
And as far as to who this person is and how he does things, people like this usually cause their own downfall eventually.
From Abi who has had to deal with a few too many of these people in life.
Add your thoughts and ideas for questioning pastor.
PS from Ann and revhoney – the question barrel is near the bottom for ATM – please send along your questions for the Matriarchs. Write to askthematriarch at gmail.com (replace the at with @ - no spaces)
Dear all - this is my last edition of Ask the Matriarch as I discovered that I have been breaking the guidelines of ATM. I did not realize that a 10 year ordained person was the definition of Matriarch. Although I have been ordained over 10 years I do not have 10 years of service. Some whom I have recruited to answer ATM questions are long time lay ministers and therefore do not qualify either. I am sorry that this happened. I have enjoyed my time as an editor of this feature but feel I need to withdraw. Ann