The expression "one and done" sometimes refers to young basketball players who finish high school and go play basketball in college. But instead of staying and completing their education, they only stay one year in college and then enter the NBA draft. Because they are so good at basketball they are "one and done." But athletics is not what's on my heart today.
When I use the expression "one and done" I am thinking of young ministers who become a pastor of a church. But their experience is so bad, they leave their first pastorate never to return to pastoral ministry again. They are "one and done."
The names and faces change but the drama of these ministerial casualties is always the same. It begins with an enthused young pastor who normally has a wife and children. They go full of anticipation and hope to their first church. Their honeymoon with the church is often short-lived. They collide with stubborn traditions and entrenched power-brokers. As the old saying goes, "Old age and treachery always beats youth and exuberance." But in church life everybody losses. The young pastor is wounded, carnality in the church is emboldened, and the kingdom of God fails to advance.
To be sure, it is not always the congregation's fault. Often young pastors make mistakes and must be challenged. But does it have to be a career ending stoppage?
What can be done to protect both churches and young ministers? How can we have fewer "one and done" preachers?
- We should talk frankly to young pastors about power structures and the wisdom of implementing change gradually not abruptly.
- We should talk to congregations about the need for innovation. Failure to change always brings death. Help them value young leaders and the fresh ideas they bring.
- We should train church leaders in conflict resolution. How do Christians "fight fair?" How can Christians discuss ideas without attacking one another?
- We should always model love, humility, and forgiveness.
I am thankful for the patience of my first church. To be sure, I was young and stupid. I wonder, where would I be now if I had been terminated from my first church?
My heart aches for similar young ministers today. Unfortunately, their first experience is not as forgiving. As they leave the church, will they leave Christianity? In their hurt will they be eaten up by bitterness?
And what about the churches? Are they learning that if they disagree with their pastor they can just run him off?
There are some in college basketball that don't approve of the "one and done" phenomena. They firmly believe young men need more nurturing and growth before going out into the cold hard world. I certainly agree with that, not just for basketball players but also for young pastors.