I vividly remember “Baby Blue” pulling away from the curb with the LRBC pulpit committee inside. I do not remember exactly what transpired in the days after my trial sermon, but somehow I eventually wound up in Crossville for an interview.
Because we were engaged Shannon was invited to be a part of the process. I had no idea how it all would go, but I remembered Bro. Wayne axiom #3, “Whatever they ask you will reveal what they didn’t like about the previous pastor.”
The evening began in a relatively old local buffet restaurant with wood panel walls. Our party would occupy the back room. After making our first visit to the buffet, Shannon and I were seated in the rear of the room with our backs to the wall. The six members of the committee sat across from us. There was no escape, but I was ready. I guess I expected some friendly chat over course 1 which generally includes some sort of modest soup or salad. I didn’t want our first impression to be pig. There was only a limited amount of chat before the questions began. The surprising part was that none of the early questions were directed at me. They were Shannon’s. Shannon is a relatively slow eater. Having to field questions made eating nearly impossible for her. While her salad sat dormant the questions kept coming - for a while. They questioned her so long I was beginning to wonder if they were interested in me.
Given the number of questions directed at Shannon and the fact that she was apparently chosen to be the lead off hitter, Bro. Wayne axiom #3 meant that the previous pastor’s wife must have been a trip. I finished my first modest course, desperately wanting more, but again there was no escape. I ate little to nothing. Shannon ate nothing to little.
After her borage of questions an elderly lady showed up on cue. She took Shannon away. Shannon’s salad stayed. They questioned her. Now they were going to kill her. No more buffet visits for Shannon. I was left alone.
The only thing I remember about the interview was that it was long. I was hungry. Shannon was gone. What started in daylight ended in darkness. It was relatively late when the questions ended. The last remaining order of business was to retrieve my fiance; maybe.
Shannon had not been killed. Instead she had been quarantined to the home of a nice elderly couple that lived a few blocks away. After wrapping up the marathon evening with some small talk Shannon and I drove away and spent hours trying to interpret exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Given Bro. Wayne axiom #3 we attempted to decode the interview all the way to Chattanooga.
Apparently the interview went well as the committee eventually extended to me an invitation to preach at the church in view of a call. I will share this story next. The interview also taught me a lesson. If you want to be a pastor, study Greek and be ready to answer questions for hours. I would be reminded of this again 6 years later during the interview process with Ridgecrest. Comparatively the interview at LRBC was merely a 10k. As long as it seemed at the time, it would be nothing compared to the marathon process with Ridgecrest. I will get to that story eventually, but it will take quite some time.