Search Committee ‘Cast Lots’ to Pick Pastor

cast lots

By Henry Brown

When it comes to picking a pastor, most churches realize the importance of calling. They view the pick much like a coveted #1 pick in the NFL draft. However, some churches see the pastor pick as a roll of the dice.

Higher Ground Baptist Church has looked for a pastor seven times in the last twenty-two years. Some of their pastor search committee members have been involved with four of the seven searches.

Their unique challenge has led them to a biblical passage they feel is “Divine” at its core.

Committee Chairman Bob Bright told us, “One of our oldest members has served on all seven of the committees and said this was what we should follow.”

The committee chose to follow the advice of the Bible. “Then they ‘cast lots’ to choose between the two men, and the one chosen was Matthias.” (Acts 1:26)

“We couldn’t decide between six men. To be honest, once you view 400 resumes it’s hard to know who to pick.” Bob Bright smiled. “After all, one pastor is pretty much the same as another.”

The committee made a night of it. They had a round robin tournament where the “lots” were replaced with dice. All the pastors’ pictures were pinned to a bulletin board, and then the dice were rolled.

“It turned out to be a ‘lot’ of fun.” Bob Bright grinned. “At first some weren’t thrilled to be doing it, but eventually we started running side bets on who would win. We even broke out the communion juice to make the night extra special.”

When I asked the chairman if they crossed the line by rolling the dice and betting, his response was: “It’s not like we had a Urim and Thummim. Besides, picking a pastor is a roll of the dice anyway.”

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Asparagus Farmer Ruins Potluck Supper

asparagus

By Henry Brown

A Wednesday night supper at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church turned into a 911 call and several people treated for heart palpitations. The church hadn’t seen this much excitement since the revival of 1992.

An unusual odor had made its way through the fellowship hall. Most of the people didn’t realize that a vegetable could have caused all this commotion.

“Sister Bertha smelled it first.” Mildred Same said as she sat fanning herself and holding her heart. “We didn’t know what it was. We thought some of our bus kids brought in a bottle of sulphur and poured it in the bathroom commodes. But it turned out it was the odd farmer.”

Ted Kelly was new to Wednesday night suppers and new to the small community. He owns twenty-five acres and has several greenhouses. He didn’t understand what happened but two of the deacons finally asked him to leave.

“I thought they know what asparagus was and what it did. But I was definitely wrong.” Ted said.

“Wednesday night suppers are the same things the same way. Our systems are sensitive. We are used to eating the same meals and that’s the way we like it.” Mildred said.

The restrooms are right next to the kitchen and the odor began to burn the eyes of longtime members, Bertha Strict and Mildred Same. When they couldn’t understand what was happening they called 911 and eventually poison control.

“When the rescue unit came, they informed us it was the vegetable Mr. Kelly brought” Mildred said. We then asked him to leave. You can’t risk the children and youth eating new food.”

One thing is for sure the children really liked the new vegetable. They said they learned a lot about food that night.

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Baptist Church Breaks Out in Revival by Following Church Covenant

church covenant

By Henry Brown

It had been a long time since Bethany Baptist had seen revival. Longtime members have said it was close to sixty years and twenty-one preachers ago. But in the first three months of Pastor Hank Bushce’s ministry, revival has come.

Deacon chairman David Connors said, “He just took the church covenant off of the wall and started preaching it. We didn’t know what to think. To be honest, most of us had no idea what the covenant said.”

The result of obedience to the covenant has caused Bethany Baptist to change a lot of things. Over a hundred new people have come to the church in 90 days. Prayer has become a nightly meeting in the sanctuary. Forty-five people have been saved, and the church has started a second morning service.

Bethany’s church covenant is much like every other Baptist covenant. It is three feet wide by five feet high, with a wooden frame, and sits under plexiglass.

Pastor Busche took it off the wall and began a sermon series called, “Lying to God.”

Organist Nancy Dyer said, “He just preached the covenant, and we all agreed to follow it. He read what we are supposed to do, ‘to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.’”

The church was paralyzed. Pastor Busche told them this is on the wall so they had to obey it or take it down. Since the church didn’t want their 100 year old covenant to be removed, they knew they had to do something.

“What would people think if we didn’t obey the written words on the wall?” David Connors said.“One part really got me, ‘to avoid all tattling, backbiting and excessive anger.’ Just think what the church would be like if we did that?”

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Southern Baptists Admit Methodists are Right on Pastor Tenure

church tenure

By Henry Brown

“This was a long time coming,” said John Weston, director of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church. “For them to finally agree with us is a monumental breakthrough.”

The Methodist church has had a long established practice of rotating their pastors every three years. Some churches do it sooner, and other churches decide to keep their pastor longer. But the normal rotation is three years.

Southern Baptists have snickered at this.

The Baptist churches have long said their pastors stay longer. However, statistics don’t back that up. “A recent research poll from Lifeway Research suggested the average pastor’s tenure in a local church is 3.6 years .” (http://www.gbjournal.org/8-82/)

When told of the Lifeway poll, Executive Committee Chairman Dr. Fred Sheets exclaimed, “Well, since Lifeway said it, it is the Gospel. We know they have never steered us wrong.”

Dr. Sheets continued, “It is just really hard having to admit that the Methodists may have been right on this. What’s next, sprinkling?” Dr. Sheets smiled.

Southern Baptists will now have to rethink some things. Why not be like the Methodists and rotate pastors? In essence isn’t that what is really happening anyway? A pastor moves from this church to that one and never really stays anywhere long.

Sometimes pastors stay in the same community and just move from one to another.

Southern Baptists are now asking Lifeway research guru Al Seltzer to examine the feeling on women pastors in the SBC. After admitting Methodists are right on tenure, who knows where Southern Baptists will stand on women in the pulpit.

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Pastor’s Wife Reprimanded for Not Using Approved Color in Parsonage

parsonage

By Henry Brown

“It’s clearly stated in the bylaws. Parsonage Section II, Paragraph 1, Line 2 states, The parsonage walls may NOT be painted any color other than beige or white. We would have allowed Ivory and maybe even Spun Sugar but she crossed the line.”

The decorating committee of Brownsville Baptist Church reprimanded pastor’s wife Betsy Brumlet for painting her three year old daughter’s room yellow. The reprimand consisted of a formal letter that stays in the pastor’s personnel file, and a special called business meeting to “make the church aware” of the violation.

Pastor Bill Brumlet was also informed by the deacons that people were not happy about this violation. “I was told some things I can’t repeat. No names were mentioned, but the deacons indicated that people were unhappy with the color choice of my daughter’s bedroom.”

Decorating committee chairwoman Beulah Bartholomew, a lifelong member of Brownsville, said, “I have never seen a pastor’s wife show such disregard for the bylaws of the church.” Several other church ladies shook their heads when asked their opinions.

However, a new member seemed confused at the magnitude of this incident. “What does it matter what color a room is painted at the parsonage? Do churches really make a big deal about things like this?”

The pastor’s wife was instructed in the business meeting that it was not her home to decorate.

“One thing is certain, our bylaws will be adhered to” Beulah Bartholomew said. The other ladies nodded in support.

Since the publishing of this article, the pastor and his wife have resigned the church.

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Pastor in Trouble for Failing to Accept Candy Crush Invitations

church in trouble

By Henry Brown

Emmanuel Episcopal Church has a rich history and a thriving senior adult ministry. The aging congregation ministers by quilting, Wednesday night suppers, and providing walkers to people who can’t afford them.

They have also started to get proficient with Facebook. “We just love seeing our grandchildren and great-grands on the Facebook.” Edith Edwards smiled. “But unfortunately our new pastor doesn’t have time for us.” Her smile left.

Pastor Elijah Earley has been their pastor for eighteen months. He is facing division within his church family by not “spending time” with them. He visits them in the hospital, and visits them in their homes, but unfortunately more is expected from him.

“All he really cares about are those new members. I think five families have joined since he came here.” Mrs. Edwards said.

“The problem is pastor Earley won’t accept the Candy Crush invitations many of our senior ladies send him. What makes matters worse is a few of them are widows. Some even homebound,” said Eugene Eaves, twenty-five year Elder chairman.

“I really didn’t know this was an issue.” Pastor Earley shook his head. “I kept getting the invitations but simply ignored them. I don’t know how those invitations work. And if I knew this was a big deal, I would have played.”

But trouble at Emmanuel Episcopal is not new. The church has had several pastors in the last twenty years. Many of them only stay two to three years. From a community stand point, they never get to know the pastor. There is really no outreach, and most of the members are over sixty-five.

Mr. Eaves shrugged, “I don’t know if this new pastor is going to make it. We have been through this before. Pastors come and go, but the church has to go on. The Lord’s work is just too important.”

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92 Year Old Church Pianist Can Still Knuckle the Ivories

Church

By Henry Brown

Betty Buckner is a force of nature. To see her shuffle up to the front of the church behind her walker is incredible. But what she does next amazes the congregation at Beulah Baptist Church.

Betty sits behind the piano her 72 year old son and 69 year old daughter donated to the church and bangs those keys. At 92, Betty has been doing this for over seventy years.

“I started playing the piano here as a teenager but then the regular church pianist left, so they asked me to do it. I have hardly missed a Sunday since,” Betty said. “I think it is important to be here and the three ladies in my Sunday School class still love to hear me play.”

The 24 member congregation appreciates her faithfulness as well. They have given her 13 plaques for her service to the Lord. Head Deacon (and cousin) Bob Bennett said, “We keep thinking she is about ready to retire, but she won’t go.”

The church has seen its ups and downs through the years. Most young families go to other churches; many of them drive twenty miles or more to attend church. Beulah Baptist tried to reach them several times, but music has always been the problem.

“A few years ago we really started growing. A new preacher came and a new family joined. Their children played guitars and one even played drums. It was just too big a change for us. Betty’s children started attending regular again and pitched a fit.” Bob Bennett shrugged. “You just don’t need to change things that are working.”

“I tried to help those kids with music, but they played those new songs.” Betty shook her head. “There is noting like the hymns we all grew up with. Besides, all of our members are seventy and up.”

Bob Bennett admits there are some challenges. “Sometimes she doesn’t remember what song people call out, and she plays the wrong one. Truthfully, half the time we don’t know if she’s playing Amazing Grace or Beulah Land. But hey, it’s all about heaven anyway.”

Local Pastor Offers Choice Seating to Tithers

pews for tithers

By Henry Brown

“It should never have happened.” Mr. Moony said. “I have been the Sunday School Superintendent here for twenty-seven years and this has caused many to leave the church.”

In accordance with the by-laws of New Yellow Creek #3, this announcement had been in the bulletin for six weeks and the church passed it by a vote of 16-13.

The choice seating is now called “The Tithing Section.” There are even small gold plaques with names, and how many seats are available to each tither. They even are offered visiting family seating in those best seats.

“This is unheard of. For the pastor to offer the best seats in the house to the people that tithe is purely favoritism.” Mr. Moony shook his head. “Now I don’t know what we will do.”

Mr. Moony took a deep breath. “Where will visitors sit? We had a visitor two weeks ago and she sat in the tithing section. Think of Easter and Christmas. This could be a melee.”

Two new people showed up last Easter Sunday and Mr. Moony is concerned they may go some place else next year.

“The tithers hatched this plan with the new pastor. They wanted those seats and the pastor had to make them happy. There really isn’t anything anyone can do because most of the deacons are tithers.” Mr. Moony hung his head.

“I really don’t know if the church can recover. We have lost three families. Nearly a third of our church is gone.” Mr. Moony said.

The Tithing Section takes up the back two rows of the church and the overflow room which doubles as the fourth Sunday School class. That is part of Moony’s concern.

“People have sat in the same seats for decades, and now we are changing everything. Some of the tithers don’t come to Sunday School and they stand in the overflow room and wait for the Senior Adult Women’s class to let out.” Moony sighed.

“You know people go crazy for the best seats in the house.” Moony shrugged “But I don’t get to sit there anymore.”

Moony turned slightly then exclaimed, “What if everyone tithed? What would the church do then?”