Tuesday, May 3, 2016

By Action of the Board

I have attended many more church Board meetings than I have wanted to. That number would be something like all of them. When discussing my curfew, my father used to say, “Nothing good happens after midnight.” My personal experience says he was wrong. But I must say, nothing good happens at a church board meeting.

In my experience, generally speaking, there are too many people on the board, (I once served a church with an average attendance at Sunday worship of 65 and a Board of 66 people.) the group can’t keep on task and stick to the subject being discussed, many people are immature and tend to attack other people instead of attacking the problem the group is seeking to solve. At church board meetings I have endured some of the most hateful personal attacks of my life. In the name of “church business” I have been demeaned, cursed, verbally attacked and threatened with physical harm.

There are several reasons why church boards tend to act in such ways. I will not even attempt to address those issues in this blog. (If you would like to look at those issues I suggest you pick up a copy of my book, RENEW YOUR CONGREGATION; HEALING THE SICK AND RAISING THE DEAD.) Since I discovered a better way to do church, (Including much smaller boards.) church board meetings have become pleasant, invigorating and exciting. For years early in my ministry, as the monthly board meeting date approached, I became increasingly tense and on the evening of a meeting I was usually nauseated. Now I look forward to board meetings.

We had one just this past week I really enjoyed. It was short and to the point, just the way I like them. I have an excellent board chair who runs a great meeting. We start on time, have some prayer, do the business of the church, have a few laughs and head for home. Perfect.

This particular board meeting gave me a new experience I hope I never forget. Church boards do business. That is what they do. A business item is brought up, it is discussed, a motion is made to pass the motion and a vote is taken. In the board meeting this week a motion was made to do nothing. I have known churches that were doing nothing, but that didn’t stop the board from passing motions – from doing business. The issue we were discussing was whether or not to change the worship service time for the summer. We decided not to change the time; just leave it as it is. I thought that took care of it.  But no… someone made a motion to not change the service time and it passed unanimously. We voted to do nothing. And it was unanimous.

That says something, but I am not sure what.


Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ohio Plates

Yesterday I changed the license plates on my car.

I took off the Tennessee plates and popped on the Ohio plates. No big deal. Well, maybe a medium sized deal. I have trouble putting Ohio plates on my car and I have been trying to figure out why.

Part of the problem is that I am a native of Kentucky. Being adjoining states, I spent most of my growing up years making fun of people from Ohio. And they returned the favor. That’s just what you do. When I lived in Iowa we told Missouri and Minnesota jokes. In Tennessee we told Arkansas and Mississippi jokes. In Ohio we tell Kentucky and Indiana jokes.

For example: “What is the number one pickup line in Indiana?” “Nice tooth.” My favorite Ohio/Kentucky joke is: “Did you hear that a Kentucky pickup truck went off the bridge over the Ohio River connecting Ohio and Kentucky? Four out of six of the truck’s passengers drown. They were riding in the back and couldn’t get the tailgate down in time.” So, it wasn’t that I didn’t like Ohio; it was just that I had spent my younger life making fun of Ohio. So I didn’t want to drive a car that advertized the fact that I was an Ohio resident.

I had pretty much gotten over that problem, having lived in Ohio for over 20 years. But then I moved to Tennessee, bought a new car and tagged it with Tennessee plates. I ended up living in Memphis, Tennessee, for almost 3 years. And I loved living in Memphis. I enjoyed the culture of a southern city with much musical and good food history. Talented musicians were everywhere so I was able to hear lots of great music. The worship teams at the church I served (Lindenwood Christian Church) in Midtown Memphis were amazing – both traditional and contemporary. And then there about a zillion awesome restaurants available for meals. I was in heaven.

But the main reason I didn’t want to change plates was because to do so would be the last physical thing I would to sever ties with Tennessee and my friends. I knew we would always be friends; but it would also never be the same again. The folks at the church were some of the best ever. Intelligent, fun, kind and interesting; they were just great to be with. For example:

Morgan Parks: my associate minster, tour guide, lunch companion, provider of a family on loan and my best friend.

Cindy and Carol: support staff, constant source of entertainment, fun to be with, my best source of information, providers of wonderful smiles.

Phil, David, Chris and Courtney: Ministerial/program staff, good people, fun to hang with, psychotic IN A REALLY GOOD WAY, made for great and laugh filled staff meetings, and were hard working and loyal.

And then there are church members too many to mention. When Bob and I met we instantly bonded because we each spotted a kindred spirit. Harold and Sarah we the best friends and neighbors a guy could hope for. I had three of the most wonderful Board Chairs while I was at Lindenwood; smart, hardworking and very intelligent. Harold and Joe are retired ministers in the congregation and two amazing guys who were always there for me. Connie is hilarious and tended to think like me, which I found interesting and a little disconcerting. Anna, the chair of the Elders, who became a true spiritual sister. There were many who allowed me into their homes and their families: Cyndy and Harold, Morgan and the girls, John, Jeri and Megan, Bill and Ann Morris and others. And dozens of just wonderful friends: Karlyn and Nancy, Teresa, Joe, Kevin (He’s another whole blog J) and Beth, Ryan, Davey, Carolyn, Gene, Jonas, Ken, Charlie, Clay, Wayne, Herb and Beth, Carter, Sally, Chuck, Terry, Mike, Michelle, Brian and Emily and Lela and Steve and more.

What a wonderful group of people.

And they are why it was difficult to change my car tags.


Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Angelic Cop

As a church project, church leaders were asked to write about a God encounter/miracles we may have experienced. That, of course, got me thinking and I was surprised how many I had stored so far in the back of my mind I had just about forgotten them. Allow me the joy of sharing one with you.

My wife and I endured/enjoyed long distance dating for a few years before our marriage. I lived in Kentucky and she was living in central Illinois. We discovered one had better really like someone if he or she is willing to drive several hours just to spend a few hours together. We became huge fans of the Waffle House… not because of the food but because it was open 24 hours a day and the employees didn’t seem to mind if we took up booth space long after we had finished our meals. Over time we fell deeply in love and met some really interesting people.

It was during one of those long drives that I experienced a miracle. I understand that one man’s miracle is another man’s coincidence. But I was there and it looked like a miracle to me.

I was driving a 1980 something Honda Civic. It got great gas mileage so it was my car of choice back then. I had very little money back then. By that, I mean I was living well below the official poverty level. On one trip to Illinois, with the wind to my back, I got a little over 50 miles to the gallon. Good gas mileage was a high priority and always on my mind. And my pursuit of good gas mileage was why I met my angel.

It was a clear, cool Saturday morning and I was on my way to Brownsburg, Indiana, to meet my honey. In my never ending quest of better mileage I was drafting a semi. For those of you for whom that statement made no sense let me explain. Of course, a semi is an 18 wheeled tractor trailer truck. Drafting is a technique developed by race car drivers to conserve gasoline during a race. Official definition: Drafting or slipstreaming is a technique where two vehicles or other moving objects are caused to align in a close group reducing the overall effect of drag due to exploiting the lead object's slipstream. Especially when high speeds are involved, as in motor racing and cycling, drafting can significantly reduce average energy expenditure required to maintain a certain speed and can also slightly reduce the energy expenditure of the lead vehicle or object. In order to reduce drag, I was neatly tucked up under the backend of an 18 wheeler. We were about 4 feet apart and doing about 70 MPH.

After enjoying a few miles of his help, I noticed a set of blue lights flashing in my rearview mirror. It was an Indian State Trooper in an unmarked car seeking to engage me in conversation. So I dutifully pulled over. At that time I was still working on the Oldham County (KY) Police Department and was aware of how a traffic stop worked.

I was surprised when the trooper approaching the car was not in uniform… he was wearing plain clothes and as he introduced himself I saw from the badge clipped on his belt that he was a Lieutenant with the Indiana State Police. I was surprised because I knew that ranking officers don’t usually work traffic stops. He was on his way to do something else but had felt he had to pull me over. I was intrigued.

He approached my window, introduced himself and asked the magic question: “Do you know why I pulled me over?” I didn’t have a clue and told him so. He smiled and asked me if I knew what drafting was. I confessed that I did and, yes, I knew I was drafting. He said, “I understand why you are doing it but it is very dangerous. I must insist that you stop immediately.” That was it. No ticket. No warning. He just walked back to his car and pulled out. I wish I had gotten his name. And what makes me think he was an angel? Allow me to finish the story.

I, too, pulled back on to the interstate to complete my journey. About five miles up the road the traffic began to back up and finally came to a standstill. It had all of the signs of a bad accident. We continued to inch forward and I finally had my turn to view the cause for the delay. It seems that a semi was pulling an oversized trailer that was too tall for the overpass. It was wedged tightly under the bridge. As I pulled past the wreck I realized that it was the same truck I had been drafting. A strange feeling came over me as I realized that if that trooper (angel) had not pulled me over my car (and I) would be neatly crushed under the truck. He saved my life.
I believe with all that is within me that God sent that trooper to save my life.
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.
He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon
 
 
 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Change Your Sign

Many churches were among the first to join the movement of buying signs with changeable letters so we could share information with the public driving past our properties. For many of these churches, this was a good idea gone bad. Unfortunately, many of our good church ideas seem to go bad.


A church I served in Kentucky many years ago decided it would be a good idea to have one of these signs. I informed the Church Board that I would not be responsible for changing the message on the sign. One of the young men in the congregation volunteered for the job, but lived to regret that decision. It is very difficult to come up with a new meaningful or witty phrase on a regular basis. He began purchasing books and magazines in search of new material. Not to seem too critical, it was the general opinion that as time went by his postings became weaker and weaker. Finally he just posted the service times. It wasn't long before he moved out of town. Moving seemed a bit much… I would have accepted a simple resignation. With the message no longer changing regularly the church looked stagnant to the community unfamiliar with the workings of the church. Suddenly our wonderful sign became a problem and a negative factor to the image of the church.


Like church bulletins, church signs can and do often say unintentional things. Sometimes inappropriate things are posted. Such as:


Okay, so I think it’s funny. But it strikes me as more than just a bit inappropriate.



Then there are the ones that don’t end up saying what the person responsible for maintaining the sign intended.




A message meant for a few gets displayed for the public.




 
Perhaps you just want to tell it like it is. Or at lease how you see it.







 
This is a great public service announcement with a funny twist.






And there is nothing better than a good old misspelled word to make the church look bad (Or interesting.).






But worst of all are the “Welcome” signs that are anything but welcoming.




 
For years I passed a little country church that, I am sure, wondered why they were failing to grow. They were friendly people, had a nice building, a spacious parking lot, a ministry for children and, doubtlessly, preached the Gospel. Out by the road they had a very nice welcome sign that said:


Everyone Welcome


KING JAMES ONLY


The reality is, not everyone is welcome… only people who think like them. I know I didn’t feel welcome.


Some of the signs churches  put up say things to the unchurched we don’t intend to say. The church I serve has a small parking lot next to the building. One space is reserved for me (the Pastor) and one is reserved for a handicapped person. I have never understood reserving a parking place for the pastor. I am a almost always the first person to arrive Sunday mornings, so I don’t need a reserved space. My suggestion was that we put up signage at the entrances to the lot that says: Sunday – Reserved Parking for Guests and Handicapped. The regular church goes could park on the street and make room for convenient parking for guests.


Our church also hosts several voting precincts on Election Day. This year we drew quite a crowd. As is our custom, the ladies of the church prepared baked goods and offered them for sale to the voters that were waiting in line. That is what churches do. We have special events when we invite to community to our facilities and then attempt to sell them something – baked goods, chicken dinners, the junk from our attics, etc.


Is that the message we intend to give our communities… that we just see them as a source of income? Wouldn’t it be better if we changed our signs? Instead of having a Bake Sale, we prepare a few pots of coffee, set out our baked goods and hang a sign that says: Welcome. We are so happy to host you today. Feel free to help yourself to some fresh, homemade baked goods and coffee. Sounds more like the message I want the unchurched in my community to hear from my church. Perhaps they would be more inclined to join us in worship.


Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.
He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Campaign Cringe

I will freely admit that Presidential campaigns cause me to cringe. Each election cycle viscerally reminds me how broken our system is. Unfortunately I majored in Political Science in college. There I learned how our political system was set up and it was a great system. Many folks don’t know any better and believe the system we now have is the system our founding fathers intended. It is not even close.

For example: Separation of Powers. The legislature was designed to keep the President from becoming an elected King. The Supreme Court was supposed to hold the Legislature’s decisions in line with the Constitution. Instead of appointing Supreme Court justices because of their constitutional knowledge, they are appointed because of their political leanings… leanings that should, in no way, influence their decisions. Instead of working together to keep the republic running properly, each branch has become separate, renegade and power seeking entities. To hell with the Constitution, to hell with the health of America, nobody gives a crap about Joe average citizen. It is all about getting one’s way, pleasing one’s voter base, getting reelected and gaining and exercising power.

For decades our Presidents have been running over the top of the Legislature and acting as elected kings. The defense for this unconstitutional activity, as ridiculous as it is, has been, “The President of the other party did it while he was in office.” The fact that others have done it doesn’t make it right for such behavior to continue. And Congress has consistently lacked the gumption to do anything about it. Remember that members of Congress are only interested in one thing – being reelected. The solution to this particular problem is term limits. Term limits would bring to an end to the power and influence of lobbyists, special interest groups and big business giving huge amounts of money to reelection campaigns and thus controlling the votes of our legislators. Term limits would free legislators to do what they were elected to do – vote the will of the people, instead of concentrating on being reelected. I have had people tell me that if term limits were implemented our present system would no longer word. I am concerned when I must point out the obvious to these people. Our present system is already not working.

During the past century a shift took place that has changed everything and made the election process a chaotic, “I can give you more” slugfest. Originally the government was designed and empowered to do certain and limited things. In the 1900’s the politicians added something to that list. I am not privy as to why. I wasn’t there. It could have been for the best of intentions or it may be an effort to control the electorate. Whatever the reason, it became the government’s job to take care of everyone. As far as I can tell it started with Roosevelt’s response to the great depression. His response was Social Security, welfare and government jobs. Many people think these were the greatest things to happen in the history of our nation. I don’t. Especially since his programs didn’t work. Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t solve the Great Depression; our participation in World War II did.

 The government has proven itself inept at caring for those in need. It is not even close. Over the years our government has consistently funneled huge amounts of money into government programs to solve poverty and social problems and have made almost no discernable progress. Decades of antipoverty programs and billions of dollars have been invested and still we have almost nothing to show for the effort. I would call that inept.

While on this train of thought, I honestly can’t understand why such a large majority of African-Americans vote consistently for Democrats. In general, under Democratic regimes, the economic plight of African-Americans has consistently grown worse. Is there some kind of magical thinking involved here? I would suggest that looking at the results of your vote… what your candidates did or didn’t do… should inform your future votes. Is our voting just a knee jerk reaction; a habit; a case of not paying attention; thoughtlessly believing the same empty rhetoric campaign after campaign? Good old practical Jesus put it like this: “You shall know them by their fruits.” What do they produce? Ignore the rhetoric and look at the results. If we, Republicans and Democrats alike, were to judge by the fruits of our politicians, we would vote them all out of office. Are we too ignorant or too frightened to vote such a change? We, as a nation, have been set up to fail by our thoughtless, uninformed voting patterns. My dad told me that my grandfather McConnell was a “Yellow dog Democrat.” When I asked him what that meant he said, “My dad would vote for a yellow dog if he was on the Democratic ticket.” Unfortunately there are “Yellow dog Republicans”, too. Such an approach to the political system is not only dumb, it is dangerous. We can and must do better.

It is unclear who first said this, but not knowing the source doesn’t lessen the truth it holds: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to a loose fiscal policy… ”

I don’t know what that the collapse will lead to but it won’t be good. When writing the part about voting ourselves money from the government treasury the author is right on target. We have been doing it for years. Just listen to the politicians as they work at outdoing each other in promising to give us more in return for our votes… election after election. And this election the candidates have taken this approach to new heights.

Are our present political and economic systems screwed up? Obviously. Does our present governmental system have a snowball’s chance in hell of fixing it? Absolutely not. First we have to fix our system. Business as usual will not work. One more time – TERM LIMITS. That won’t completely solve the problem, but it would be a great start.

Copyright © 2016, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is Senior Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.
He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Friday, February 12, 2016

Seminary Cemetery


In this blog I am going to be critical of seminaries preparing men and women for ministry in the local church. I do this understanding that it has been a l-o-n-g time since I attended seminary It should be noted that I appreciate my seminary education. My professors were wonderful men and women of God. The entire faculty participated in praying for the students every morning at 4:30 am. (I didn’t know this until my senior year.) I entered seminary prepared for law school and I knew nothing about Christianity or ministry. Nothing.
I think I was the only student in a school of 750 students who didn’t know there are 66 books of the Bible. In the youth group at the church I grew up in they served a small meal before the meetings began. When served each kid had to respond with a Bible verse. Each week I repeated the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” Like I said, I knew nothing. At least, nothing about what they were teaching. The professors often said words that were completely foreign (Often Greek.) to me while everyone else in class obviously knew exactly what he was talking about. As my dad often observed, I was a lost ball in the high weeds. So, to say seminary was a challenging experience for me with a huge learning curve would be an understatement. I started out knowing zero.

Unlike many seminaries, the seminary I attended taught some courses that were practical and useful in pastoral ministry. During my three years there I took classes on prayer, church administration, evangelism (That’s talking to people about Jesus.), Bible study, and Bible content, pastoral ministry (Talking to people about important, personal stuff.), stewardship (giving), Christian education and counseling. I did take a butt load of classes loaded with information that I have not used at all in ministry. Some of those provided some foundational information that helps me think methodically about scripture, praying and just basically doing the work of the church.

I am comfortable stating that presently seminaries are failing.  I feel comfortable making such a sweeping statement because over the past 60 years the mainline denominational church has been tanking, doing it rapidly and speeding up every year. The quality of seminary education, obviously, isn’t the only reason for the decline of the church. But seminary is the one place where pastors could be trained to reverse the trend. But that is not happening. The course work is often times not practically applicable to pastoral ministry. Many courses are developed around the most talked about social issues of the moment. These classes may be fascinating and challenging but often are not material that interests people who are not involved in the academic community. This approach is founded in the idea that because we are educated we are smarter than the common people and we must be prepared to go forth and educate them (get them straightened out). I still believe the New Testament model of going out and meeting people where they are and introducing them to the God who can change them. Have we lost faith in a God who can change lives?

A second basic mistake many seminaries are making is not providing leadership training. Churches must be led. Without dynamic leadership, churches will just naturally follow the lifecycle of the church and die. It is normal and natural. But it is not good. Pastors must be trained to love, care for and bless the flock but NOT be people pleasers. Most of us have been trained and it has been modeled for us that if the folks in the church are unhappy, we have failed. Trust me, the church is made up of sinners – I am one – and they often seek comfort and happiness outside of the will of God. In addition to a pastoral ministry, we have a prophetic ministry. We are obligated to lead people to God’s truth. And sometimes that is a difficult, unhappy and unpopular task. It takes courage. It takes a leader.

A third basic mistake I believe seminaries are making is who they hire for faculty members. As in other graduate schools, it is commonly believed that the only people qualified to teach master and doctoral students are people holding Ph.D.’s from reputable and accredited schools. I have no problem with a Ph.D. degree. I have met some brilliant people with Ph.D.’s. But I have met others who couldn’t teach someone to sharpen a pencil. My concern lies in the fact that a Doctor of Philosophy degree is an academic degree. They have learned who to study; how to do research and how do write on subjects that very few people care about. If you doubt me on that look up how many doctoral dissertations hit the best seller lists. My brother’s, something about modeling in glass furnaces, sold a copy or two because my sister and I bought some. My thesis, “The Biblical Basis of Nouthetic Counseling”, didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Ph.D.’s are trained to go to school, not to teach pastors how to do ministry effectively.

My suggestion is that seminary students should be taught by teachers who hold a Doctor of Ministry degree (a practical degree) and have a proven, successful track record in ministry in local churches. Let those who have shown they can do church well teach the next generation of pastoral leaders. Perhaps then things will turn around.

I realize what I have written will not go over well and will attract many negative comments. The academic community has much invested in what they are now doing (Jobs and investment in buildings) and academic communities are notoriously slow to adapt and change. I understand that. But it looks like we don’t have time to slowly change.

Copyright © 2016, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is Senior Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Monday, September 21, 2015

Saying Goodbye

I am entering my final few days serving as the Interim Senior Minister at Lindenwood Christian Church in Midtown Memphis.
It’s hard to believe that just under three years ago I showed up at Lindenwood, during one of Memphis' famous ice storms, filled with apprehension and not knowing a single person I met. It was a church full of strangers. Well, the first day, it was a church filled with no one. The church was closed because of the weather. Nancy and I showed up because we have spent several years living in the snowy regions and didn’t find the roads all that frightening or challenging. After driving in Memphis a few years I now know we were blessed that day with empty streets.
I drive to dialysis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 4:30 in the morning. Normally the streets are almost deserted. One morning the roads were icy and I only saw two cars all the way to dialysis. And those two had managed to run into each other and were waiting for the police to show up. Only in Memphis.
Three years in Memphis and I have come to love the town. Lots of cool places to visit, some great music and music history, lots of great places to eat, great water (I would rate ice cold Memphis tap water as one of the 10 best drinks in the world.), and wonderful people. Like most America cities Memphis has some problems. But it is beautiful, diverse and filled with great people.
The church I have been serving is amazing. When I say that, I am, of course, talking about the people because the church is the people. I am finding it very difficult to say goodbye to them. Like most churches, some of the members think I walk on water. Others pray daily begging God to kill me. And most people in the middle aren’t really certain what my name is. There is no doubt that some people who don’t now attend worship will return upon my leaving. They have been lying in the bushes just waiting for my exit. Some don’t like my personality; some don’t like my leadership style and some don’t like my sermons. I remember talking to a lady who had left a church I served as pastor and asking her why she had left. She said, “I left because I don’t like you.” Supporting her premise, she didn’t like it when I found our conversation humorous. Like most ministers, I used to obsess over the people who don’t like me. I expended great amounts of energy trying to get them to like me. And they just didn’t. This worried me until the day I remembered some of my mother’s wisdom. On more than one occasion she said, “If somebody doesn’t like me, there is probably something wrong with them.”
Some people in the church are put off by my straightforwardness. Most likely most of the pastors within the realm of their experience probably had a tendency to dance around issues and make sure no one was upset. Early in my time here I had a conversation with a long time church member who had come to tell me what to do and made it clear that if I didn’t she would be very unhappy with me. I wish I had a camera handy to take her picture when I said, “You need to understand that I am completely comfortable with your unhappiness.” I love people but I have learned to not let them walk all over me. I’m nice but I don’t take much crap. I am always willing to listen but there is a good chance I won’t do what you tell me to do. Not to sound too egotistical, but what makes an average church member at a church in dramatic decline think they know how to do church better than someone who has been doing church and studying church for over 40 years? Who, of those two, is egotistical? When you to come talk to me about the church, you would do well to come armed with a better plan and I will receive it joyfully. But if what we are doing is not working, I am always in favor of changing what we are doing.
So I am leaving and some people really hate to see me go. What they fail to realize is, they are going to miss me – one person. I am going to miss them – a few hundred people.
I am so thankful that God led me to Lindenwood Christian Church. I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know scores of wonderful people. I have made some new lifelong friends. I have shared in some deep and profound spiritual moments. I have received literally thousands of warm and loving hugs. I have wept and I have laughed so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. I have met some of the most intelligent, interesting and insightful people ever. This experience has been a gift from God for me. And I will be eternally grateful.
Please know that I will remember you, love you and pray for you. Thank you.
Copyright © 2015, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is Senior Minister at Lindenwood Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press. He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon.