Volume 4 Issue 4
I’m a new pastor. How do you effect change in a church where certain views held by the congregation are different from your own views?
Although your question is a real-life question, it’s one we are all a bit uncomfortable with and seldom discuss. But at the risk of rushing in where wise men dare not tread, I’ll make a comment or two.
Hopefully, congregations and newly-elected pastors have established the absolutes with respect to doctrines and such. Belonging to an organization would indicate to a congregation or church board that you hold certain general (corporate) views. Your own ethical standards and character come into play here. If you accept the pastorate knowing full well that you do not share the basic doctrine that the church has held traditionally, then you have violated personal ethics that should have caused you to step up and reveal this about yourself, whether you were asked or not. If a congregation finds you’ve been dishonest in this sacred area, you’re just marking time. And the congregation’s anger would be justified.
On the other hand, there are many things that new leadership may change regarding general views that do not involve absolute doctrinal points. In this case, the new pastor, over time, may bring to bear his arguments that will then affect people’s concepts. This is positive and represents good leadership. Being honest, prepared to answer questions, thoughtful and sensitive will help you accomplish much. However, being ruthless, overbearing, demanding, and unwilling to create dialogue privately or publicly will doom your efforts. A word of caution should also be noted: When one draws a line in the sand and calls for a fight over some trivial aspect of church life or disciplines, he runs the risk of losing more than he would gain.