dismissal from the pulpit

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Jensen, Jul 7, 2004.

  1. Jensen

    Jensen
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    I am a "new" pastor and was wondering what are the usual (and unusual) reasons for a pastor to be dismissed (or fired, asked to resign, etc.) from his duties. I "hear" that this happens "all the time" but don't hear much about "WHY?" it happens.

    Can anyone share some stories or personal experiences to shed some light on this matter.

    Thank you for your comments.
     
  2. USN2Pulpit

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    That's a big question, with as many answers as churches have personalities. Just be sure to know going in that churches have two leadership structures:

    1) Official - or elected
    2) non-official - the few that really run the church - the "power brokers"

    It will be in your best interest to know who these people are.
     
  3. Jimmy C

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    I have seen pastors dismissed because they were lazy, dishonest or did not exhibit a love for the chruch they were pastoring.

    My two cents, as a layman, are as a pastor you are all about building relationships with your congregation. Preaching is important, but I can put up with bad preaching if I know that my pastor cares about me and my family. My advise would be to visit every family in the church at least once/year - and within the first two months of first coming to the church, I would further advise you to go to every sunday school party you can, go to childrens camp, youth camp and be involved in VBS. I would especially advise to to be at every meeting your senior adults have! By spending time with your congregation in informal activities your folks will know that you care about them as individuals. It is much harder to dismiss someone the congegation has come to know and love than it is to dismiss the latest preacher boy.
     
  4. HappyG

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    Jensen,

    Some churches have people who like to be "big fish in little ponds." Meaning some people like to have a place in their life where they can throw their weight around a little and have some power. Most people don't get that opportunity at their work, so church can be a place where "small fish try to be big fish."

    Thus you can get fired or pushed out in political battles or because certain people think the pastor is to "perform" or "impress" or make them happy. Or because some people don't like to be told or led by anyone.


    You don't want to keep your job by being a politician or even a manager. You want to keep your job because you are a leader with a vision for where you want to take your people and your church.

    I would suggest you read some good leadership books, develop work habits that would make you successful in whatever line of work you were doing. Prioritize the things that are most important to your ministry and your personal core values. And if a certain church "boots" you out, you won't have a hard time finding another one who recognizes and values a true leader.

    One more thing as a pastor you have three jobs. Get the right people on the bus. Get the people on the bus in the right seats. And get the wrong people off the bus. Most pastors don't do the last of those and thus they struggle in accomplishing things.
     
  5. Jensen

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    Thanks (so far) for the responses. My church (my first one) is more than wonderful!!!! They show their love to me on a daily basis and I pray that I do the same back, however, a friend of mine was just called to his second church (was at his first for about 6 yrs). He was just told to resign by the deacons after being there only 3 months. I don't know exactly what all had occured, but the deacons told him that they were not moving forward (despite 60+ professions made in the 3 month period (church runs about 90 in SS).

    I know that it is often advised not to change things too quickly after arrival at a new pastorate, however, can things move too slowly (even in only 3 months!)? Or maybe that was just an excuse by the deacons to say because they didn't like the changes being made? My friend wanted them to put a sign up at the end of the road to "direct" people to the church, but they didn't think it was a good idea..????? (Maybe it might bring in those "other" people) I don't know... I'm just wondering if this kind of thing is in the minority or that I am just overly blessed by being in such a wonderful church? It makes me wonder about ever leaving!

    Comments????
     
  6. blackbird

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    You see, Jimmy C---the fella in the story wasn't given "time" to even start any sort of "visitation" or even to start any lasting relationships---while your suggestions are good and valid in the long run---I believe the problem with the preacher being asked to leave after just 3 months---is more to be blamed on "inner" struggle----

    They probably "liked" the poor dude until it was time for him to "make the first decision!"---and that first decision didn't involve the "upper crust"---the "Power Brokers"--as USN2Pulpit so eloquently put it--

    To me---too many churches have these "Power Brokers" who are so out of the will of God and out of the word of God that its pitiful---they don't have a clue as to how God intends for the church to be run---by Theocracy---with the Chief Shepherd being the Lord Jesus Christ followed by the UnderShepherd being the Pastor---they just don't have a clue, do they??

    Blackbird
     
  7. GODzThunder

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    A pastor can be fired for failing to fulfill his pastoral duties. those who never study or never visit lose members. those who fail to fulfill the great commission or lose sight of the vision that God has for that Church can greatly affect attendance and can cause the members and leaders to doubt the validity of the pastor.

    other pastors have been fired because they preached a truth from the pulpit that offended or exposed an influential member in the church and they saught revenge by trying to oust the pastor.

    still others have been fired because they have been caught in sin. such preachers have committed adultery or were caught stealing.

    you will see a good many preachers fired simply because a Church has an overly high or wrong expectation of what a pastor is. a good friend of mine pastored a church for six years in our area. he was recently fired with the claim that he was not up to standard of what a preacher should be. The truth be told he was an outstanding pastor and a great man of god but despite all his efforts he was unable to sucessfully grow his Church. This was the fault of the deacons of that Church who refused to allow any change of any sort. they also were very adament as to what was and was not to be preached in the pulpit. All they saw him as was a hired staff member and he was treated as such. when they made a mistake he was given the blame despite whether he had a say or not in the issue. The leaders took a long hard look at the Church and saw no spiritual growth but refused to take credit for their own failure and pushed the blame on the pastor.

    this is in my opinion the number one reason a pastor is fired from a church. an expectation of a pastor that is impossible to live up to creates the illusion of failure in the eyes of the leaders and members.
     
  8. Jimmy C

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    No argument with you Blackbird, situations like that are quite sad, and horrible for the pastor and his family. I can only pray that that young pastor finds a new congregation and is able to stay in the ministy.
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    Church constitution must have some guidelines for hiring AND firing a pastor. Personally, I would tell the deacons THEY were fired!

    Congregational rule is that - not the pastor nor the deacons - the body decides. I would ask for a special meeting to discuss it.

    The only time I've seen a pastor asked to leave after 3 months was for moral/legal problems. Now I've seen churches that KNEW within 3 months they had made a horrible mistake in calling of the pastor, but they laid it before God and the situation worked out within the year.
     
  10. Major B

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    OK, now that you have given your explanation for the duties of a pastor, compare with Acts 20:17-36, 2 Tim 4:1-5, Titus 1:1-11, 1 Timothy (whole book), and Ephesians 4:11-16. Do you see a problem here?
     
  11. Jimmy C

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    Major

    I have no disagreement with any of the verses you cited, in fact I am in total agreement with them. However, in order to be a pastor - in my opinion, you must love the people you are pastoring. That love must be communicated in tangible ways, ie spending time with them, getting to know them, finding out where they hurt, and what thier spritiual needs are. You can do all the "right" things, but if the congregation does not feel your love for them, they will have a very hard time hearing your message.

    I have had all differnet stripes of pastor over the years, all of them conservative preachers of the Word. The ones that were most beloved by thier congregation, and effective in thier ministries were the ones that knew thier pastor loved them.
     
  12. HappyG

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    Jimmy,

    How many people do you think you can "hands on" love by yourself?
     
  13. TomVols

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    A very wise post. Well said and worth saying.
     
  14. Jimmy C

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    Happy

    How hard is it for a pastor to spend time with thier people? I have had pastors that have invited different sunday school classes to his house once a month, attended sunday school parties, and intentionally visited five to ten families/week until he had visited every family that are regular attenders.

    Lets say your church has 400 folks that attend regularly (a pretty large church - or at least on the large side of average). How many families is that? Assume 5/family, thats only 80 families - he could visit them all in 8-10 weeks. After that a pastor would only have to intentionally visit one family per week that he does not have regular contact with.

    But you would have to ask my pastor - who does a good job of this, if that is to much.
     
  15. USN2Pulpit

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    Congregations should take measures though to prevent such hard labor that the pastor's family suffers from the lack of a father & husband's presence in the family home. It is worth noting that churches ought not to place unreasonable expectations on the pastor - if the pastor fails in his family life, how can he then led the church? Church bodies, then, are responsible for the pastor's family well-being.

    Jimmy C, if your pastor is truly doing all those things, as well as fulfilling all scriptural duties, it is your (read: personal and corporate) responsibility to encourage and support him and his family with words and in more material ways. If your church family does not take care of him, he will be susceptible to "burn-out" from the hectic pace he's running.
     
  16. TomVols

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    The problem is most families don't have 5 people in them. Many have just 2. Plus, you're also expected to visit four or five families each who don't attend your church but are related to or know or work with one of the families represented by your flock of 400. What about shut ins? Suddenly, the pastor of the average congregation has about 750 people he may be expected to provide some type of pastoral care for.
     
  17. Jimmy C

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    To try an visit one family a week is not a major time commitement, nor is attending class parties. I would also hope that your church has some sort of shut in ministry, and that your deacons are involved in hospital visits etc.

    Being in sales I know that the only way I continue to generate income from my clients is to visit them on a regular basis - it is part of my job. Some take more, some less, some I see at conferences, some I have to make special trips to see. If I just sat in my office and waited for orders to come in, without developing those relationships not much would happen. I agree that there must be balance between your studies, administrative duties and relationship building - but if you ignore the relationship building, your ministry will suffer.
     
  18. TomVols

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    I don't think anyone is arguing with relationship building or visitation. I was simply highlighting the difference between the Biblical expectations, the spoken congregational expectations, and the underlying expectations that can often be the divisive issue between pastor and flock.
     
  19. Jim1999

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    Attitude is often the culprit in pastoral dissatisfaction. It may be in either camp. The first consideration, in my mind, is that the local church is theirs and not yours. Don't start rocking the boat by introducing new things. I happen to be amillennial and arrived at my new church ready to do business. The first thing I noticed was that almost every member carried a dog-earred Scofield Bible. Now it would be a bit foolish of me to start off preaching against dispensationalism. I preached the second advent in common generalities.

    I followed a simple rule in every new church: "Be friendly to all; familiar with none." Then, I sat down with the Board of Deacons and set forth a plan including visitation, outside commitments (funerals, weddings, and responsibilities)and MY expectations of the church body.

    Always keep in mind that you will be compared with the previous pastor, and if you try to mould yourself accordingly, you will be in deep trouble at the outset. Be yourself, and don't change. They called you, and not the reincarnation of the former pastor.

    We talk about the various gifts and forget that we too may be limited by our specific gifts; some preachers, some teachers and some masters at visitation. We cannot be all things to all men, and stop trying. Do what you do best. God will take care of the rest.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. SaggyWoman

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    I have seen a pastor dismissed because he spoke inappropriate words from the pulpit. Not that his messages were, but the words he chose to use were inappropriate.

    I have seen an associate pastor removed because they terminated his position. Some thought he had no tact.
     

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