Many people seem to think that we could just “hire” a minister to solve the problems in our church. I hear this comment often, and I’m rather uncomfortable with the word “hire” and its implications. In our church, we have an unusual tradition, “since we don’t hire ministers, we cannot fire them.”
This sounds very strange at first, and you might say, “What if the minister turns out not to be a “good” one?”
Well, why didn’t we have a good minister? Did we pray enough? Did we seek God’s will enough? The church founders had a basic simple assumption that God would provide us leaders or pastors in His time. It wasn’t the conventional “hire a pastor” approach. We could be on the lookout for good leaders but we trusted God would be the prime force to send us a leader. Idealistic maybe, but it lasted more or less during my decades at the church. We felt that the church should not be an employment agency for pastors, but should be more like a family. We “don’t hire”, nor are we supposed to “fire” our parents or our spouses.
So, a lot of times the issue in practical terms is how we go about trying to find a minister. If we try to use secular ways of evaluating the skills and competency of the minister, we may downplay the spiritual qualities, the inner strengths of the minister. But if we go about it in the same way that we are supposed to seek the will of God in finding our spouses, knowing full well that we will never divorce, then in searching for the right minister, we will be super careful to emphasize the spiritual qualities, the integrity, the long-lasting characteristics, rather than any dramatic secular “professional” skills and competencies.
因此，当我们寻找一位全职传道人，如果我们用世俗的方法以他们的经验，学历，和他的背景为标准来甄选，我们就会不重视他的属灵的品质，和属灵的成熟。如果我们选择我们的配偶；作为一个基督徒，我们应该寻求神的旨意，我们知道选配偶是一辈子的事， 不应该离婚。如果我们以选配偶的心态来选择我们的传道人，我们将会非常的小心，我们会特别注重属灵的品德，属灵的完全操守，在基督里的执著。 这些特质比起那些世属选择职业的标准为其重要的多。
In our church history, every time we looked for a minister, we took a long, long time over it, even to the point of frustration of the candidate and church members, because we understood that it was the will of God that we were seeking, and therefore we should not try to hurry the decision. We checked the background thoroughly and meticulously, and especially we valued those who have come from within our own ranks, since that we would know the person really very, very, well. All it would take is one scandal and all the good work would be destroyed.
But then you say that no one’s perfect. So, what about the minister that really is not doing a good job? If the minister is “not doing a good job”, there might be many reasons for that, including the responsibility of the congregants. It would mean that members, and especially deacons and elders should sit down together with the minister and talk it over, to figure out what the problems are. Every minister, I’m sure, wants to do his best work, and so therefore we should sit down and try to figure out how help him to do so. This is just like in a family: if any part of the family is not doing so well, we need to have a family discussion to try to fix the problem. And the problem might well be a misfit in responsibilities given to the ministers; it could be misplaced, unrealistic expectations; it could be some skill that could be enhanced. The discussion might be awkward and even difficult, but addressing the problem is necessary, and it does produce some very good results. We have used this approach for many years and it has worked extremely well, so we have had no major rifts; definitely no ministers that have resigned in disgust or anger, nor have we ever “fired” any minister in all these years in all my 46 years serving the church.
你也许会说世上没有一个人是十全十美的， 如果一个传道人，他所做的事工不是很完美，其中有不同的原因. 是否教会会众也要付上部份责任，教会应该与传道人坐下来，找出问题的癥结。我们知道任何一个传道人都希望做个好传道人。大家，特別是教會的執事和長老，应该一同坐下来帮他找出问题所在，帮他能做个好传道人。像一个家庭，如果其中任何一位成员有问题，一家坐下来讨论如何解决。是否我们将一些非其所长的教会事工缴给了我们的传道人，或许对传道人期望太高？也许可以在某一处可以加強或送传道人去上一些课学习。这样做有时大家会觉得尴尬或为难，但这是必经之路。 我们以往的经验，也都印证以这方法来处理会得到非常好的效果。我们的教会和传道人从来没有发生过重大不愉快的经验，也从来没有过因为传道人做得不愉快而愤怒从我们教堂“辞职”的事情发生过。在这以往多年中教会历史也从来未 “解雇” 任何一位教会的传道人。
Another way we try to encourage the ministers is to have regular “accountability sessions” among all the ministers and elders, since we consider elders and ministers as having similar responsibilities, except that elders usually have a “secular” job in addition to their church responsibilities. Therefore, elders and ministers can sit down together frequently to work on matters of church and personal accountability. No one is perfect, and if we come together in this way, we reinforce each other and encourage each other, in a responsible and loving manner, in the true spirit of mutual accountability.
The concept we like is that “God hires the minister”, since every true minister should only come in answer to God’s call. So it’s “God’s call”, not “ours”. He is the employer, not us. And so the key is to carefully seek God’s will and to discern if He has truly called the minister. If the minister is employed by God, then we are simply the venue and support system. If he is employed by God and not us, we have no “power” to “fire him”.
With this “no hire, no fire” tradition, we have been able to manage a church that has grown to more than 500 people, including 100 youth, which gives us a strong foundation for the future. We truly do not have any history of major breakups and high tensions that seem to plague many (including Asian) churches. Maybe you could try this approach! Don’t hire your ministers!