True Confessions of an Interim

May 2, 2024

By the Rev. Dr. Carl Grosse

Ashton (our new Office Administrator) and I have a weekly one-on-one to go over his work and address any needs or questions. Some tasks are becoming more routine for him, which means they get done a little faster and with less stress. He’s working out ideas for improving the Weekly Word, our website, and our social media presence. The financial side of things has a steeper learning curve, yet he’s already run payroll and gets manual checks ready and signed in a timely manner. There’s always time for general comments in our weekly meeting, and during the last one he talked about how “selling people” as a recruiter was so different from the church office administrator job. I agreed, the world out there tends to commoditize people. Do churches ever treat people that way?

We tend to practice what we learn growing up, or what we see others do. If your mama used a cast iron skillet, you probably will too. You might have caught yourself using a phrase your daddy used to say. When your coworkers leave five minutes before quitting time, or answer emails on vacation, it’s likely you will too. If your church experience includes a good dose of terms like “pledging families” or “giving units”, then it’s understandable if that’s how you approach your involvement beyond sitting in a pew. King David got himself in real hot water, and you’re probably thinking about that Bathsheba thing. That was not his finest moment, but even worse was his census. God gave him a choice between three different punishments for that egregious lack of faith.

Of course, church leaders need to plan and use resources effectively. How many bulletins should we print? How much food should we prepare? But if the people to whom you give those bulletins, or to whom you serve that food, mean as much to you as cows going through a stockyard, then you crossed a line. In Jesus world, every one of those people has a story, needs love, is made in the image of God. You can forget those facts in the “real” world and do very well. But Jesus is our king, and how we do church better look like it. Personally, I think Fountain City Presbyterian does a very good job at treating people like people. We can always do better; in fact, pursuing that goal can keep us from going backward. If you haven’t met Ashton yet, stop in sometime and say hello. He’d love to meet you!