Congregations and pastors may not argue about where to squeeze the toothpaste tube, but after the honeymoon, they have inevitable conflicts that need to be resolved.
My wife and I had been separated by 3,000 miles of ocean for five years before our wedding. Our fragile relationship had been sustained by letters, cassettes, and occasional transatlantic telephone calls. When I finally arrived at her home in England for two weeks of frantic wedding and honeymoon planning, we felt frightened and pressured.
Fragile relationship, frantic planning—that's not unlike the beginning of a new pastorate. So, like couples, congregations look forward to the honeymoon. After the anxiety and excitement of calling a new pastor, they long to settle into an unhurried time where pastor and congregation can get to know one another.
But then what? After the first year, sometimes the first month, couples have to hammer out a working relationship; they must resolve the myriad of conflicts that arise in ...1