Friday, February 16, 2007

ode to chris

Do you really settle for the status quo as you get older? Do older pastors increasingly play it safe? That was the point of a recent article by Abram Book:

"The expectations people have of pastors to always have answers and be competent to do almost anything just tends to shut pastors out from being open about who they are with somebody else," says McBurney. "This may not be as true as it used to be, but many pastors were taught in Bible college and seminary not to get close to their people because it can create problems of jealousy and tension in the church."

Over a long period, this makes pastors guarded. Barna's study found that pastors' potential for risk-taking drops off after 20 years in ministry. Pastors who spent 20 years or more at the same church were found to be particularly risk-averse.

"Most people in most careers tend to train during the years when they're 20 to 30 years old, try to grab the entire world by the horns when they're 30 to 40, and then 'settle in' from 40 to 50, or after about 20 years. It's no different for pastors," says Dr. Neil Wiseman, a former professor of pastoral development at Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs. "Since a pastor will have bumped up against all sorts of resistance during the years between 30 and 40, and since he's had to deal with every new idea imaginable during that time, it's probably not a surprise that after 20 years, he's tired of taking risks."

Wiseman also cites as factors the sense of career boredom and lack of motivation that some pastors feel after 20 years, and the notion they often feel that taking risks will get them fired. "After a pastor has been in ministry that long, it's hard for him to start over again if he's terminated. With that in mind, most pastors who've been around that long just figure it's better not to take chances."


As I read this article, it brought to mind our most recent addition to the pastoral staff at Faith...Chris Hinterman. Prior to joining us, he had been a Senior Pastor for nearly 30 years. He had a comfortable job and the respect of his peers. But his heart became unsettled. He hungered to take new risks and reach out to the world, touching the needs of a new generation. He dreamed of being on a church team that refused to settle for status quo.
May we never prefer comfort over passion.

In the 1990's there was a catch phrase for Michael Jordan. People said, "I wanna be like Mike". But now Jordan is just a rich pleasure seeker, resting on the laurels of his glory days. Well, Chris may be 20 years ahead of me on the journey, but I can say without reservation that when I hit 50, "I wanna be like Chris".

We are honored to have him at Faith Church. (Although we all know that his wife Marcia is the real rock star of the family!)