contacting a visitor's former pastor?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by nodak, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. nodak

    nodak
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    I don't want to hijack the thread about vetting someone.

    I freely admit I see two sides to this contacting a former pastor thing.

    Obviously if I were to ask to transfer my letter to a new church, they will be in contact with my old church. That would be the time for the pastor at the old church to raise red flags. I mean, maybe I was treasurer and stole money. Or was a child molester. Can't have that just swept under the rug.

    But on the other hand, I have seen some pretty heavy handed and vindictive folks trash someone's reputation. They could be leaving the old church just because they realize they disagree with its theology. Or have a personality conflict. Or loathe something being done in the service. (Yes, music, drama, poor preaching, etc would fit here.)

    They could be really good Christians and excellent church members just sensing God is leading them in the move. That doesn't make them bad or troublemaking or divisive. Of course, some preachers will consider anyone who disagrees with them about anything as "divisive."

    I will admit if I were just visiting and had not asked for membership and you called the pastor where I am a member to check up on me, and I found out, I wouldn't be a visitor at your church again. It smacks of attempts to control and blacklist to me. (But then again, I'm not in conflict or in trouble at church.)

    I would guess this would have to be a rare thing, and handled carefully, and only when someone applies for membership, has a bad reputation in the community, or is being divisive while visiting a new church. I'm not much on the idea a church can keep you a member if you have notified them you resign, either.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. HAMel

    HAMel
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    I've never provided a letter.
     
  3. PreachTony

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    I've always been of the mind that the only way a church can grant a letter of membership to a member moving to another church is if that member is in good standing, and in peace and fellowship, with the church. If they are not, then you have to examine the extenuating circumstances. Perhaps they had a falling out and could not remain at the church. Perhaps they disagree with a theological path the church has taken. That said, I don't believe it should be a time of airing dirty laundry.
     
  4. annsni

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    When we have someone coming to our church from another church, we inquire why they are leaving the other church. We can usually weed out the truth by speaking to them and speaking to the other pastor. Fortunately, most of the evangelical pastors in our county know each other well and get together monthly for prayer and fellowship so they are able to be honest with each other. It's been really helpful.

    For our own situation, we've had people leave with good and bad reasons and we will just be clear with the other pastor why they left. In one case, we did warn the other pastor about the high needs of the person who left and gave them some insights from what we've learned. I've gotta say that for those to play the church for personal gain, they don't get far around here!
     
  5. nodak

    nodak
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    I agree there are the "professional trouble makers." And if I felt led to move to a different church, of course there would be a time of visiting different churches and seeing where God was leading me. During that time, I'd sure hate a visit or two to merit a call to my pastor to check up on me. Who knows, the visiting might make me sure God WASN'T leading me to leave.

    And yep, should I ask to transfer membership, I would sure as shooting expect that if I were not in good standing at my old church, they would let my new one know.

    I guess I just figure that, assuming I am in good standing and behaving myself at my church, should I feel that voluntary association needs to be ended, that would be my prerogative.

    But then, like I say, I've seen instances where the church went in a new direction, some faithful folks did not feel they could in good conscience go that way, and started the search for a new church home. No divisiveness or rancor or gossiping or fussing. Just quietly leaving. And seen them told they could not leave until they were on board with that new direction. Otherwise they would be guilty of sin by leaving "not in peace" with the original church.

    I guess I just see church as a voluntary association, not something where once you join you have forfeited the right to withdraw at your discretion.
     
  6. Salty

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    just wondering if the thread title is a bit misleading.

    I would never check up on just a visitor - it would not be my concern until he made decision to join.
     
  7. sag38

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    A few times I have contacted the pastor of a person who is wanting to join the church that I am serving if that person is coming from a local church where I know the pastor. Here's why:

    #1: He may not be aware that someone under his watch may not be happy and is looking for another church.
    #2: I want him to know that I, nor anyone in my church, has been proselytizing members from the church he serves.
    #3: If there are problems: I want to encourage prospective members to go back to their former church and work problems out. If that isn't possible then I want to encourage the prospective member to make sure he or she leaves their former church on good terms.

    One time I found out that a member from my church had joined another church down the road a few miles. This member had been an instrumental player in splitting the church I serve a couple of years before I came. I was simply informing the pastor that he needed to be aware of this man's history in my church and to be wary.

    (I have never checked up on visitors. Visitors and those expressing interest in joining the church are different matters.)
     

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