The Rev. Joel Carwile speaks of change in the church at Campbellsville University’s Church Relations Council. (Campbellsville University Photo by Joan C. McKinney)
By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University’s Board of Trustee member, the Rev. Joel Carwile of Louisville, talked about change, criticism and the pastor’s response during the two-day session of the Church Relations Council March 21-22.
Carwile, pastor of Valley View Church in Louisville, was the keynote speaker at the annual banquet and also at the closing session. He is also a member of the Church Relations Council at CU.
Carwile said some churches are reluctant to move forward “because our past has been so good. This can cause great difficulty in going forward.”
He said, “Everyone keeps looking to the good ole days rather than anticipating what God has next.”
Carwile said his church, which has 5,200 members, made a transition to elders and followed Southeast Christian Church’s model. Southeast Christian has 25,000 members.
“We tried to pattern ourselves after someone else’s template rather than seeking out our own unique expression of leadership,” he said, comparing it to what happened to David on his way to fight Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.
Carwile said with all change comes criticism. “The criticism will come from enemies and from friends,” he said. “Some of the criticism will be true, some of it will be false and some may be outright malicious. But it’s coming – if it hasn’t already arrived.”
Carwile said a pastor can expect criticism for many reasons including: his own sin; limitations to his gifting, meaning there will always be weaknesses in his leadership; below-average sermons; people can be proud and ungrateful; and expecting criticism is part of God’s sanctification process – a tool that He uses to reveal idols and accelerate the pastor’s growth in humility.
Carwile said criticism hurts, and he urged pastors to work toward change while trusting in the sovereignty of God.
Carwile quoted pastor Jay Childs who said: “Healthy churches also plateau, decline and receive pruning from God’s hand.”
He said we live in a church culture where “bigger crowds, bigger budgets and bigger buildings define success. This is not the culture of Biblical Christianity or New Testament ecclesiology.”
Carwile said it is imperative that pastors invest and believe in the next generation. “Do not resent the next generation,” he said. “Find it your calling to help the next generation succeed.”
He said the next generation is not the church of the future; they are the church today. He urged pastors to give the next generation permission to make mistakes – they are different, not wrong, he said.
“When you delegate tasks you create followers, when you delegate authority you create leaders,” he said.
“Your community, your church needs for you to have the moral courage to not only make right decisions but to also be the right leader at the right time,” he said.
Carwile pointed out the theme of the Church Relations Council’s 36th annual meeting which is “Standing Firm in the Faith” based on 1 Corinthians 16:13 – “Stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
“We must continue to show the love of Christ in this community, this city, this county and our Commonwealth. They will know Campbellsville University by our love,” he said.
He said, “Our university is committed to Christ-centered higher education. We have never been stronger. As we ‘stand firm in our faith,’ we remain committed to the “missio dei or mission of God.”
He said, “We are training a generation to train other generations.”
At the meeting, which was presided over by the Rev. Steve Scholar, in the absence of chair, the Rev. Mike O’Neal, 12 new CRC members were welcomed including: the Rev. Chris Gray, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Monticello, Ky.; the Rev. Eric Gilbert, pastor, 3Trees Church, Russell Springs, Ky.;
The Rev. Jeffrey Brown, pastor, First Baptist Church, Albany, Ky.; the Rev. Robert Langlois, director of missions, Taylor County Baptist Association, Campbellsville;
The Rev. Ray Gilder, national coordinator, bivocational/small church leadership network, Tennessee Baptist Convention, Brentwood, Tenn.; the Rev. Frank McGee, senior pastor, North Madison Baptist Church, Madison, Ind.; the Rev. Randall Robertson, pastor, Locust Grove Baptist Church, Huntington, W.Va.;
The Rev. Barry Fields, pastor, Hawesville Baptist Church, Hawesville, Ky.; the Rev. George Naylor, pastor, New Bethel Baptist Church, Verona, Ky.; Dr. Bill Patterson, director of missions, Green Valley Baptist Association, Henderson, Ky.; and the Rev. Rusty Thomaston, pastor, New Life Baptist Church, Auburn, Ky. Their terms expire in 2014.
Future meeting dates of the Church Relations Council are: Aug. 1, 2013, April 3-4, 2014 and Aug. 7, 2014.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.