Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

As I continued my search for a new church home in the summer of 2001 I was invited to interview at a very large United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, LA.  I had participated in a very spirited and lengthy telephone interview with their search committee, and my interest had been piqued.  I had learned it was a nearly 6000 member church, with a thriving youth ministry.  The youth had their own building with a gym and multiple classrooms.  A Youth Ministry Team was already in place.  The Senior Pastor seemed to be a solid leader and preacher.  I chatted a bit with the man I would be following in the position, and he had glowing things to say about the church.  And they had a house for us.  After much prayer and discussion with Marilyn about the location, we agreed I should fly down and take a look.

At that stage of my youth ministry career, I was pretty much done with "candidating" at churches.  I had enough confidence and experience to feel like I was interviewing the church, not the other way around.  I had my eyes wide open for traps or situations that seemed destined to be trouble.  My last two memories at this point were The Pastor Who Shall Not Be Named in Kissimmee and a church where I didn't fit at all in Hinsdale. I was excited to be in Baton Rouge, but I was cautious.

As I began meeting with the search committee red flags started popping up everywhere.  The church did have almost 6000 members, but Sunday morning attendance was closer to 500.  The "thriving" student ministry was actually small and limited.  In fact, everything was scheduled around sporting events at LSU (although getting to spend some Saturday nights in Death Valley did sound pretty awesome!).  The Youth Ministry Team was still extremely loyal to the previous youth pastor, whom the youth building was named after. He was still going to be on staff.  In fact, he would be my supervisor.  AWKWARD!  The Senior Pastor confided in me that he was not planning to be there much longer.  The house they had mentioned MIGHT be available for us, but that was still in question.  The whole thing was a disaster- and yet I found myself hoping they would offer me the job.  I was tired of looking.  I was no longer seeking to be called by God- I just wanted out of Hinsdale.  Fortunately, God was still in control, and the offer never came.  I was rescued from myself.  Which left me free to make my visit to Wesley Memorial UMC in Tampa- and the story of my journey there will start next Monday.  Come along for the ride!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous2/02/2011

    I always hate when churches misrepresent themselves to try and draw you in- even if it is just to attend worship. Did they really think you wouldn't notice all their problems if you worked there? -Chris

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