BUMPED TO THE TOP: This Saturday comment thread is starting to get active, so I'm bumping it up.
Donald W. Haynes has a list of arguments against clergy itinerancy:
* Clergy do not and cannot escape the realities of culture—we live in a two-income world. The plaintive cry I hear most often is, “My spouse cannot move or our family budget will be devastated.” Itineracy is creating “weekend marriages” where the spouse in secular employment stays behind during the week.
* Itineracy harms innocent victims. It separates patients with precarious diseases from access to their doctors, increases the burden of caring for aging parents, interrupts institutional care for children with physical or emotional handicaps and uproots people who provide childcare for grandchildren.
* Local churches no longer reflect the old pattern of cookie-cutter uniformity that used to make it easy for bishops to move pastors around. Because of today’s varying worship styles, demographics and church size, what works in one parish will be foreign to another, resulting in great frustration and conflict.
* Church analysts recognize that effective parish ministry calls for the transformation of congregational culture. This takes time—a long time. Researcher Lovett Weems defines culture as, “The way we do things here.” The pastor who is never in one place long enough to understand the culture cannot be a visionary leader.
* Americans are rallying around the word “change” in this election year, but what is the content of this change? In the itineracy model, change for laity means, “Just send us a new preacher,” and for clergy, “Just move me to a different charge.” But revolving-door itineracy never gets to the heart of church dysfunctionality. The old comic strip “Pogo” said it best: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Real change often requires not medicinal salve but major surgery.
* Baby Boomers and Millennials increasingly resist models of authoritarianism. Even the corporate world today has few models of itineracy: management-level leaders change jobs rather than move.
* Local pastors are often used to fill the demand for pastors today. They are not forced to itinerate and many have compelling reasons for not doing so.
* Ordained deacons have neither guaranteed appointment nor required itineracy. The parallel “rails” of the two orders are indeed no longer parallel.
What do you think? Should the itinerancy system be phased out or modified?