As these words are written, the 2000 presidential election is winding into its final weeks. If the Postal Service does its job, you’ll be reading these words just a week or so before the nation goes to the polls to choose a new President. I can tell you’re all excited about it.
Actually, presidential elections are a very good thing for the country. If not for such elections, think of all the sign makers and pin salesmen who would go hungry! If not for the election, we’d be forced to watch commercials about soap and cars instead of those stimulating ads promising us each a secure future and a growing bank account if only we vote for this candidate or that.
(Reminds me of the old story from the late 60’s. A man recalls, “Everybody told me that if I voted for Goldwater the country would go to pieces, there would be rioting in the streets, and we’d be deeply involved in a foreign war. Well, I did vote for Goldwater, and by golly they were right!” Those of you who are in your 20’s and 30’s — ask your parents.)
And those debates! One candidate’s staff so expertly downplayed expectations that he laughingly observed later that he surprised everyone by remembering his own name! The other candidate gave new meaning to the words “obnoxious” and “overbearing.” Perhaps that overstates the case; actually he pretty much lived up to the old meaning of those words.
By now I’ve managed to make everybody mad, except for maybe the three of you out there voting for Ralph Nader. But think about this for a second: suppose churches called pastors the way our nation elects a president.
“Welcome to the bi-annual Old First Church Pastoral Campaign Debate. Tonight our two candidates square off against each other. Rather than have them seated at a table and being nice to each other, we have each one standing behind a pulpit. Speaking first will be Dr. Smith.”
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen of this wonderful congregation, for the opportunity tonight to share my ideas — nay, my VISION! — for this church, once you show the keen insight to elect me pastor.
“When I am your pastor, I pledge there will be heaven for every deacon and a pot-luck for every special event!
“When I am your pastor, the tithe will be reduced to seven percent and you’ll have guaranteed answers to all your prayers!
“When I am your pastor, every sermon will feature amusing video clips, even if they have nothing to do with the message. And speaking of sermons, you’ll be able to beat the Baptists and Methodists to the cafeteria every Sunday after my lean, mean, 12-minute express messages!
“When I am your pastor, the choir will sing only the latest contemporary Christian tunes, unless you prefer traditional worship, in which case every service will feature a Bach fugue. Unless you prefer something else.
“When I am your pastor, there will be only eight commandments — choose any three out of the last five. And when you elect me pastor, you’ll have the kind of bold, sensitive, youthful, mature, visionary, temperate pastoral leadership you’ve always wanted!”
The moderator turns to Rev. Jones, who simply says: “Never mind the election. I just want to be his associate pastor.”

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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