Monday, May 5, 2008

The Next Appointment

After months of wondering and waiting for God to open a door of opportunity to serve another church as an intentional interim pastor I can now announce that I have agreed to serve the Neighbors Grove Wesleyan Church in Asheboro, NC as their intentional interim pastor for the next two years.

I will be going to the church under district appointment rather than by a local church call. Our denominational structure is such that probably many of the intentional interim assignments that I receive may be of this nature. The District Superintendent did have me meet with the Local Board of Administration to discuss this “arranged marriage”. After this meeting the board gave their endorsement to this decision. I was very frank and open with the board about what the intentional interim process would be like. The board members all agreed that the church needed to do something different to try to get the church back on the right course.

So what do I know about the Neighbors Grove church? I wouldn’t say everything I know but I will quote you part of what the District Superintendent said to the congregation on the morning of April 27th.

“I have known this congregation for more than thirty years. It seems like every five to seven years this congregation goes through a cycle of self-destruction.

That has to stop. We are all weary. Asheboro is weary. The District is weary. You are weary. We are all weary of the abuse you heap upon each other in this place. I speak for the District Board of Administration, former district superintendents, the many pastors who have suffered through unkindness and mistreatment, those pastors’ wives and their children, and all the people who have been hurt in this place across the years. This has to stop.

We find ourselves once again in this ugly turmoil. The issues are different this time. Maybe the people are different this time. The pastor is different this time. But it feels the same. And the roots of the disruption are the same:

1) A pastor who does not live up to the expectations that people place on him.

2) People who will not give up control.

Two years ago, on Sunday evening, April 23, 2006, I met with you in a congregational meeting to try to resolve your conflicts. At that time you were given two options – that Pastor Larry Moore continue as pastor, or that the church ask for District intervention. You chose the first option. I informed you that we would go forward with your desire, but that when we come to the time to change pastors, there will be District intervention at that point.

I am here this morning to inform you what that intervention will look like. Although it has been unkindly and unfairly characterized as ‘the District taking over our church,’ you will see that it is a well-crafted plan to get us on the path to healing and health.”

The District Superintendent then laid out a four fold plan concluding with:

“The fourth and most critical piece of the plan is to appoint an Intentional Interim Pastor. This plan comes fully and overwhelmingly endorsed by your local board of administration. The appointed pastor will be Pastor Doug Dennis, a man who has a Wesleyan Methodist background, is trained in this specific strategic ministry, and has the heart for Neighbors Grove church that will be necessary for this plan to succeed. Pastor Doug will be with you on Sunday, May 18, to preach in the morning worship service, and to further explain the Intentional Interim Pastor concept.”

So, I have two more months of service at Bessemer City First Wesleyan. My last Sunday here will be June 29th. I will then take 3 weeks of vacation and get moved to our new home in Archdale, NC. July 21st will be my first day in the office at Neighbors Grove Wesleyan. Their Vacation Bible School is scheduled to start that night so I will spend each evening that week getting to know as many families as possible.

Please pray for God’s wisdom and guidance as I conclude our time at Bessemer City and make the transition to Neighbors Grove.

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