The scenario is both common and painful.
You are being considered by a church to become the pastor or to fill a staff position. The church’s bylaws require a congregational vote to affirm you. According to those bylaws, the vote to affirm you must be at least 70 percent of those present and voting.
You receive a vote of 72 percent.
Should you go to that church?
It depends (I know; that sentence does not help at all).
Your first impulse might be to decline the offer quickly. And you may be right. But there are seven questions you might ask before you make a hasty decision.
1. Was the vote secret ballot or open vote? Secret ballot votes tend to be lower than show of hands or verbal affirmations.
2. What is the history of the church in voting to call pastors and staff? If the church’s recent history was three votes of 95 percent or more, your lower vote does not portend well for your future. But some churches just have more ornery members than others. They vote negatively because they can.
3. Are you replacing a well-loved pastor or staff member? It’s hard to follow a legend. And some church members can’t conceive of anyone being there but the person who left. They take out their angst on you through a negative vote.
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Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.