Shortly after the decision to fire my brother-in-law (the preacher), one of the men in the church had a thought. He knew that many in the church would be leaving, and he wondered if there was any interest in keeping some together. He made arrangements to host a meeting at a local community center and got the word out. Then he waited to see who would show up.
About 80 people were there.
The group decided that they wanted to stay together if possible. They were not interested in a legal battle for the current facilities of the church. Instead, they started meeting at that very same community center on Sunday mornings. One of the men in the congregation who had previously been in the ministry was asked if he would preach. I was asked if I would teach a joint adult Sunday School class. We both said yes.
At some point (maybe a couple of months?) into the venture, we were asked to switch roles. Again, we both agreed. Not to long after this, they started to look forward. With such a strong starting base, and offerings with little overhead, they began to look for a building. One was located and purchased. Again, looking forward, they wanted to hire a full-time preacher. Yay! Or so I thought...
I was asked if I was interested in the position. I said no. I felt that since my training was in Youth Ministry and that I lacked experience I was not the man for the job. But they were persistent. They argued that I was already familiar with the congregation and well thought of. After discussing it with my wife, I applied for the position.
As they went through the process, they looked at several candidates. They informed me that their desire was to narrow it down to 3 and have all 3 presented to the congregation for their selection. I told them that was great, but that I wanted to withdraw my application. I did not feel that this was the way to select their leader, by a popularity vote. I believed that this would only open the door for more division. They asked me not to, and assured me that they agreed with my thoughts.
It was about a week later that they asked to meet with me on a Tuesday evening. As I came into the meeting, I sensed something was up. They told me that they had narrowed their serach to 3 candidates, and that those 3 would be speaking on 3 consecutive Sundays. I was also informed that I was not one of the 3. Splash!
God is funny. I don't know why I was put in that situation. I felt that I had done everything right. But I was also relieved when I was not chosen. Even though I would rather they have let me withdraw my application, it all worked out. Looking back, I now know without a doubt I was not ready for that job.
Next: The tide goes out.