Appointment-making and Itinerancy!

As I write this our appointment-making cabinet is on lunch break, and I thought it might be a good time to write a few reflections. This effort tends to affect your desire to eat anyway. For me, it either makes me want to endlessly get up and graze at our snack table, or makes my appetite utterly disappear. I’m not too hungry today. Those whose lives depend upon what we do here, don’t let my lack of appetite freak you out. Things are going extremely well as we ponder the best match of pastoral gifts and graces and church needs. I appreciate so much Bishop Jonathan Holston, South Carolina’s new bishop. He is a keen observer of people and has already made significant relationships across our annual conference that informs this process. He is transparent, fair, and impresses upon the cabinet that the missional aspect of our appointments should always be foremost in our shared thinking.

We follow Wesley’s rules of “Do no harm. Do Good. Stay in love with God.” We are very careful to avoid harming churches and clergy (including their families). We sincerely want to do good for all involved. We especially want to honor and stay in love with God for whom this kingdom-building enterprise exists. This is hard work, exhausting work. We use every bit of information that we can muster identifying church needs and clergy gifts and family contexts. We pore over statistical data that churches supply along with their self-identified opportunities and points of concern. We try to look for laser-like clarity as we study the consultation information and profiles of clergy. We kill a lot of trees with putting together all this information about churches and pastors, plus we have all sorts of electronic information that we project on the screen in the room. It’s an arduous process and we need your prayers. The clergy and families along with the churches need plenty of prayer, too.

We are a sent-system of clergy deployment. Ministers are called by God when they enter United Methodist ministry and are sent from then on. Churches don’t call pastors, and preachers don’t self-select their places of service. We try to make for good matches so that Jesus is glorified and God’s grace is more effectively shared. I have even pondered if we might spread the Word better if we moved all of our church members and left the clergy where they are. That would be missional!

I can remember the times in my ministry when I have really wondered about the wisdom or apparent lack thereof behind appointment-making. Everyone in United Methodist itinerant ministry and all the churches who have been receiving pastors over the years have been burned more than a few times. We have probably all wondered, “Did the District Superintendent listen to us?” After seven years as a DS I know that the answer is “Yes!” Sometimes that listening doesn’t provide an answer that’s either expected or desired. My experience on the Cabinet is that we try our very best to be faithful to this ministry for the good of all and for the glory of God.

A lot of you, clergy and SPRC Chairs, are going to get expected and unexpected phone calls at the end of the week. Please know that you are appreciated, prayed for, and loved. Let’s all continue to bathe this process in prayer. Every day we have appointments to keep. As United Methodists this takes on special meaning during this time of year. What does God want you to do today? As we make appointments, my prayer is that we all keep our God-appointments today. May our walk with God empower all of lives to be fruitful wherever we’re sent today!

Addendum: I just grazed at the snack table and was sifting through the mini-candy bars and felt something unusual. It was a Baby Ruth all sealed up with nothing but air inside. All kinds of thoughts and sermon uses have popped into my head, plus some thoughts about some of our churches and clergy and appointment-making. Before you take offense, no, of course, I’m not talking about you! Nevertheless, what sermon titles or appointment thoughts pop into your mind? “All Dressed up, but nothing inside,” “Nice Wrapper…,” “All Show and No Dough,” “Looks Good on the outside, Empty on the inside,” …. lots of possibilities come to mind. Tell me your thoughts as it pertains to the church! Congress is off-limits!

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31 thoughts on “Appointment-making and Itinerancy!

  1. Thank you, Tim, for your prayerful and thoughtful attention to this important task. You, the Bishop and the other cabinet members are and have been in my daily prayers. Shalom.

  2. 7th year as a DS? The term is six years. Are you afriad of going back to the local church?
    Did you make a special deal for yourself at the expense of the other clergy?

    1. The normal term is up to six years, but it may be extended up to eight at the discretion of the bishop. Quit being rude (and misinformed).

  3. A thought about the Baby Ruth package: The world sometimes gives us a nice package with nothing of importance on the inside, God gave us a package, in the form of Jesus, with our salvation, through grace, inside.

  4. Tim, my wife came across your blog and passed it on to me. Super thoughts! Even though I retired a year and 1/2 ago as a D.S. I still pray for our cabinet and all the cabinets working on so difficult a task as appointments. I don’t think anyone can know how hard cabinets work at this until you serve on the cabinet. Blessings to you from an old friend from our D.S. training together. Duane Miler (Detroit Conf.)

    1. Duane, Thanks so much! Miss you and pray for the “Junaluska Seven.” I don’t think anyone knows the burden for all the churches and clergy that DS’ bear except someone who’s been one. God bless y’all and keep praying. Our bishop is absolutely wonderful and the whole cabinet is bearing the load together. A great group! Peace, tim

      Sent from my iPad

      On Mar 7, 2013, at 7:57 AM, “A Potter’s View”

  5. I really appreciate this one Tim! As for the candy wrapper, we’re nearing Easter. It would have to be the Empty Tomb. I can imagine Mary coming to the tomb much like you approached the table only to find both empty. I can already see a sermon discussing “the church leaving the building, to be in the world.”

  6. The Baby Ruth wrapper story is so good. I’m preaching on Luke 11:37-44, Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees this week. That story may just work its way in there. Thanks for all your work!

    1. Paul, Thanks for the prayers and a real deal Baby Ruth! tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Mar 8, 2013, at 7:56 PM, “A Potter’s View”

  7. Tim,
    I can’t help but think of the tremendous number of ministers that I’ve been exposed to and that have influenced me through the years. Sometimes the ones that didn’t have a great impact at the time have greatly influenced my actions at a later time. Each experience and each person we’re exposed, to are building blocks that make us who we are today and who we will become tomorrow

    1. Terry, God bless you and the same gift of wisdom works both ways, clergy to laity and laity to clergy. Your kind heart and Christ-like demeanor are a wonderful reminder to me! tim

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