I got in a little trouble last month with a post on a conference I never attended. Here’s what I wrote:
Last week, a speaker at our regional convention said, “95% of pastors are losers.” I wasn’t there, but from what I can pick up he was saying that 95% of pastors are not made of the right stuff to grow churches the way they need to be grown according to this model.
95%? That number could be a little low!
But here’s the thing. From what I can tell, God can do some pretty amazing things with losers. At least he can in my Bible. They seem to be the group that he likes working with the most, actually.
I don’t doubt that 95% of pastors are losers. To tell you the truth, it’s the other 5% I’m worried about.
You can read the discussion that followed if you’re interested.
I finally received the CD of the message in which the quote was made. Here, without further comment, is what Paul Borden actually said:
One of the reasons why I think our churches are turning around is because we have focused on leaders. We knew that when churches lose a pastor, it’s the best time to talk about change.
Now, because we’re in a Baptist church where I have no authority over the church, over pastors…We knew that if we wanted churches to change, we had to attract them to what was going on. So here’s what we did.
We’d go to a church. I used to call it my Monty Hall “Door Number One, Door Number Two” approach. I deliberately wanted to make one really bad and the other one really good so that hopefully if they had any brains they’d pick the good one.
I’d say, “Now, you can find a pastor the traditional way if you want to.” In our denomination we have a whole pastoral placement system. I’d say, “I can get you 100 names, I can get you 200 names, I can get you 300 names. However many you want, I can get them for you.
“Now, you’ve got to realize, 99.5% of them are losers, because they’re all looking for a job. It’s not happening where they are.” Somehow pastors have this idea that if it doesn’t happen here, I’ll go someplace else as though this is different. The problem they don’t realize is that they’ve just brought the problem with them.
We want pastors to stay. We want pastors to succeed. We want to see pastors make it. We’re convinced pastors can make it wherever they are if God is involved. And we’ll help you do it.
So I say, “By the way, we’ll give you the names, and you’re on your own. Pick the best possible loser you can.“
Now, I realize there are some people looking for ministry, but in my tribe they really are losers, I’ll guarantee you. That’s why we’re dying, we’re trying to sell our main buildings so we can survive another five years. We’re in bad shape.
Or we say, “Door number two is this: If you will work with us, we’ll take you through a church consultation. We’ll show you how to be healthy, how to grow. We’ll do an envisioning day for you. We’ll bring in an intentional interim. These are old retired pastors who understand how to do ministry. They’re my velvet-covered bricks. They can come in, and their job is make all the changes they can, take all the arrows possible, and then leave. And they do it. You talk about spiritual people, they do it.
But then here’s what we’ll do. We’ll go interview pastors who aren’t looking…who are in churches larger than yours, and we will recruit them to come interview with you. We don’t believe in hiring on potential; we believe on hiring on experience. And if this pastor has grown a church to 400 and you’re 50, we know that he knows how to get you to 400.
And we did that. We recruited now about 60 pastors who have done that, and 55 of those churches are growing. Now, to find those pastors…we’ve had to go outside of our denomination. Our denomination doesn’t have those kind of people. Two of our best pastors were United Methodist, but they went to Asbury Seminary so I knew they loved Jesus. I just said, “Could you just use a bit of water when you baptize, we would really appreciate that.” They said they could. And one of them – both of them have done a great job – but one of them has led a church from 70 to 1,000. And 500-600 of those people were not disciples of Jesus Christ three years ago. It’s all about leadership.
Turns out that the number is 99.5%, not 95%. Still, there’s some context. I hear some good things about Borden’s approach in some circles, and others (like my friend Andrew) have some concerns.
Thoughts? (Don’t be nasty!)