The Coaching Carousel and Pastoral Itinerancy

Billy DonovanLike many folks, I love to watch the coaching carousel go ’round and ’round waiting to see who gets a dream job and who gets booted for yet another losing season. Billy Gillispie is going from Texas A&M to the University of Kentucky. Bob Huggins has fled Kansas State for his home state in West Virginia. Surprise of surprises, Billy Donovan has chosen to stay put down in Gainesville, saying that happiness is more important than money. Sports radio is consumed by all the changes taking place this time of year, and I follow right along.Will Willimon

Even though it doesn’t make ESPN, the evening news, or talk radio, similar talk happens among United Methodist clergy. We want to know who’s going where, who “took a cut,” and who has gotten their “dream church.” It’s enough to make me wonder if the same things fuel both conversations.

Presumably, we’re fascinated with coaches because we’re fascinated with success. The Billys of the world, Gillispie and Donovan, are to be rewarded for doing a great job at what they do. Both Billys won at traditional football powers and were offered jobs at one of the powerhouses of college basketball, Kentucky. We see this as an affirmation of their skills. They are getting the chance they earned, their achievements measured in the win-loss column.

Perhaps we think the same thing with pastors. Rev. Smith-Jones down the road really turned that congregation around. Isn’t it about time she get a raise and transfer? When will “First Church” come calling? Of course with pastors we talk more about gifts and graces than win-loss records, don’t we? Maybe.

I don’t really have much more to offer on this, because I want to know who’s going where too. Are these two conversations fueled by the same desires and motives? Should they be? Is it just innocent curiosity? What do you think?

4 thoughts on “The Coaching Carousel and Pastoral Itinerancy

  1. Matt – My personal desire is to never be a part of a conversation about the suitability of a particular pastor to a particular appointment unless:
    1. That pastor is me.
    2. I am a part of the appointive cabinet at some point.
    I think that conversations about – moving up the ladder, increasing in salary, getting a “better” appointments are not helpful in nearly every case.

  2. I think we are missing out by not having trading cards for exceptional pastors – something like baseball cards. And not just for meffadists, but for the whole spectrum. I know I’d like watching my Barbara Brown Taylor cards in vintage condition rise in value with her retirement from the pulpit. And my Max Lucado cards, too, now that he is stepping back from leading his San Antonio church.

    Of course, with my investing savvy I’d have hundreds of cards of pastors who were ever so popular until they went to jail.

    Maybe we’re better off without pastor cards.

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