Moderator: Welcome to the last of three debates arranged by the bipartisan Pastor Search Commission of Old First Church, I’m your Moderator, Bob Quill, editor of Old Church Times.
You may recall that our first debate was led by a panel of Christian journalists. The second and this last debate will be led by a single moderator. This arrangement was at the request of our three finalists in the Old Church Pastor Search Campaign. Let me introduce them now.
First is our incumbent, Pastor Dave. Our next candidate is Pastor Don, who serves at a smaller church in our area and has decided it’s time to move up. Then, in an unusual situation, we have a third candidate, Mr. Bucks, chairman of the Deacons at Old First Church who has decided to run for Pastor.
Thank you for being here tonight, candidates, and now the first question. Since you became pastor, Pastor Dave, the church hasn’t grown much. What do you have to say about that?
Pastor Dave: Well, Bob, I’m glad you asked me that question, because I think some of the local media has completely distorted my record on this point. Of course, we haven’t grown as much as I’d like. You’ll remember that the Church Board raised the price of fellowship meals a couple of years ago and that has been a real drain on the membership. I begged them to reduce the price, not raise it, but they wouldn’t support my “Church Growth” package of membership incentives. I reluctantly went along with the increase, and you see what’s happened. So, Bob, it’s really not my fault. And if you compare our stable membership at Old First Church with the big membership declines at neighboring churches, you’ll see that we’re in great shape and positioned for big growth during my next term as pastor.
Pastor Don: That’s what these incumbent pastors always do — blame it on the Church Board. I think I can work with this Church Board, and together well grow this church to new heights. I pledge to reduce the price of fellowship meals to the majority of members; well do that by raising the price to our rich members.
Pastor Dave: Isn’t that always the way with these theological liberals? And did you folks know that as a seminary student, Pastor Don went to Union Seminary and did a project on liberation theology? Come on, Don, level with the congregation!
Pastor Don: Pastor Dave is trying to avoid the real issue, which is his sorry record as pastor. My background has nothing to do with being pastor!
Moderator: Please gentlemen, can’t we ….
Mr. Bucks: Bob, let’s get this thing settled. I can solve it. It’s easy. No problem. Like jumping off a log. Here’s the solution: Pastor Dave, 111 buy you out. Here’s a check for $300 million; take early retirement, start a mission church, whatever. Pastor Don, here’s $300 million for you. Go start a seminary, run a denomination, whatever. And I’ll get things fixed up here at Old First Church.
Pastor Dave: Gee, I think I can live with that. Thanks for the check.
Pastor Don: Me, too. Can somebody drive me to the bank?
Moderator: It seems as if this debate has ended, and we have a new pastor. At the conclusion, I’d just like to say ….
Mr. Bucks: Wait a minute, Bob. I’ve changed my mind ….

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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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