Friday, October 5, 2012

College Ministers and Alcohol.....My Most Commented On Blog Ever

If you perform or attend many weddings and the reception, you know the general feeling about the use of alcohol has changed among many Baptists. One pastor friend says he simply does not attend the wedding reception of those weddings he performs to avoid everyone's discomfort.

Through the years it has been my priviledge to work with several churches in calling a College Minister and I currently serve on a College Minister Search Committee at my church. For many years the assumption has been that if you were a Baptist in the ministry, you did not drink. This has become a point of much discussion these days in college ministry circles.

One church in their search for a college minister were talking with a person just graduating from seminary. They were very high on him and ready to invite him to come for a visit. At that point, someone noticed that he had worked at a restaurant that served alcohol. When asked about it, he said yes he served it, but that he did not drink himself. The committee decided to not continue their conversations with him. Another church had a prospective person for a visit and were very pleased and ready to invite them to come back in view of a call, when the prospective staffer indicated they would sometimes drink wine with meals. The pastor felt with all of the problems with college students and alcohol, this would not work and they terminated the process.

Two more examples: a church invited a prospective college minister for an informal visit after running references,and representatives from the church visiting the prospect at the church where he was currently serving. When being shown around at the church, he asked the staffer doing the tour....."What is the church policy about alcohol? I don't drink any hard stuff, but I do drink a little wine and beer". This had not come up in any of the other extensive conversations. At another church a college minister was seen drinking alcohol at a very public event. Some in the church felt he should be terminated immediately. Other church leaders said, "How do we terminate him for violating a policy we have never expressed"?

I am from the school that says that alcohol is such a problem on college campuses that it is totally inappropriate for a college minister to use alcohol. Most campus rapes involve alcohol and one VP of Student Affairs in expressing her consternation over their problems with alcohol said, "All of the money we have spent on alcohol education has been wasted". She was looking for more help in that area.

So, what's my point? Don't assume anything. There are many different feelings and practices these days about alcohol and the ministry. Ask the questions that need to be asked and make sure everyone is on the same page about what the practice and expectations are. Don't find yourself in the position of enforcing a "policy" that has never been expressed or discussed.

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