i am big on community [ginktionary on community]; heck, i am huge on community; ok, i will admit it, community is almost everything for me. i believe it is so important that i see God in relationships and how those relationships play out in community; it is so big in my book because i believe jesus walked in, lived in, eat in, taught in community. i believe decisions are best made in community, and and not by those outside the community. i believe local people solve local needs, those outside the community do not see the relationships that live in community. i believe this so much that when i got an email from a friend, i was sure how i would respond, but i did not desire to be negative in my response. here is a question i got from a friend who is looking for a position:
"What do you think about companies, like 'Ministry Search,' that are contracted to find a Pastor for a Church?"
ok, here is what i think, ready? i do not support them, at all. first, let me share with you a bias of mine - because i am certain it does give weight to my answer. i find any for-profit organization that calls itself a "ministry" [implying that it is a non-profit] is not very cool. at some level i think it is dishonest and misleading to imply a ministry, when profit is the actual drive for the organization. this is my bias, and i just needed to express it and to be open.
now, let me explain why. if, and only if, community is important to a "church" or community of faith, then these kinds of ministries do not have much in developing community. let me share some points, keep in mind that i was just emailed this today, and i have not completely processed my thoughts [and just so all know, the person is well aware that i am bloging about this email].
"ownership" - community should not only own the process, but also the outcome. when we "outsource" the important process of bringing aboard a staff member we outsource the center of community, and the responsibility for the selection. if a "bad" selection is made, one can blame the organization and not the community.
"time" - if, the community is too busy to gather and search for a person to be on staff, they should re-examine their understanding of community. yes, it takes a great deal of time to pick a staff person, but that time is needed to help in the process and in the understanding of what community can be.
"location" - if we look at the organization listed in the email as an example, one has to ask, "what do they know about us and our area?" think of it this way, "ministry search" is located in texas, so what do they know about the culture of southern california? what do they know about the culture of new york? what do they know about the culture of orlando?
"just one" - bring anyone on staff is too important for just one person, no matter the experience that person has - or what the educational value is of that one person. keep in mind, that even when "interviews" are done, and certain things are shared with the person collecting resumes, that one person is the one selecting which person "gets by" and who is finally interviewed.
i believe that communities of faith that by-pass the process of looking deep into what God is doing with them, and allow for the process to form in community, are missing some great opportunities of growth. to gather in community, to pray over the possibilities in community, and to all God to speak to a gathering in community are valued lessons God desires for us. to give that over to an "outsource" is not being in God's call for us as people of community.