Need help...Deacons > Pastors?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Jkdbuck76, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. Jkdbuck76

    Jkdbuck76
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    Hello, folks. I need some Godly and Biblical advice on a problem we have at our local church. I shall call our church "XYZ Baptist Church."

    I am the chairman of deacons. The Pastor has a vision for our church and how it needs to grow. He said that God gave him this vision after much prayer. He said as much to me personally and in letters to all the other deacons. I've read his plan and vision and I think it is good stuff. The Pastor feels so strongly about this, that he's taken a stance on it such that either two things will happen: Either the deacons support him or if not, he will resign. Or, those deacons who will not support him need to step down.

    Our oldest deacon responed to the aforementioned letter in writting. He addressed it to the rest of the Deacons and to the Pastor. Some excerpts are below and I'd like your sincere comments and advice.


    Dear Deacons and Paster John Smithie:

    I am writing this letter and requesting that it be read at the December __th meeting in lieu of me attending in person.

    First of all, the Pastor does not "lead" XYZ Baptist -- but is the Spiritual teacher to the congregation. The Deacons should be the leaders and the congregation are the financial supporters, without these, the Pastor's roll (sic) would not exist.

    You have requested in your letter that everyone come prepared to the meeting to answer the three questions:

    1. Do you believe without any doubt that God has called me (the Pastor) to lead XYZ Baptist at this time?

    I believe that you are called to spititually feed and teach the word of God to the congregation...at this time, but it should be a full time service versus part time based on the time you spend going to school.

    2. Do you believe without any doubt that God has called you to serve as a deacon under my leadership?

    Yes, except I am serving as a deacon under the leadership of God and not the Pastor and plan to do so until God chooses for me to do something else.

    3. Are you going to be able to faithfully support me as your pastor as we seek to lead XYZ baptist in the future?

    Yes, I will continue to support you and XYZ Baptist as I have in the past by continuing my roll (sic) as a Deacon, Sunday School teacher and my financial support of tithes and offerings to XYZ Baptist.

    Due to the fact that I have not always agreed with some issues in the past at Deacons meetings and was not supported by those in attendance with my opinion, I opted to not attend the meeting in person.

    In God's word, it states that there will be disagreements, and even though I do not agree with all issues that are made at XYZ Baptist, I do continue to support the Pastor's direction and spiritual teaching. I have no desire to resign as a deacon of XYZ Baptist and will continue God's work as He so leads me.

    I have given this serious thought and spent much time in prayer and felt it on my heart to share.

    May God bless all of the leaders, teachers and the congregation of our church as we seek God's vision for XYZ Baptist in 2009!



    1st Issue: The Pastor read the above this morning and said that the Deacon's stance was unbiblical and that the deacons are the servants of the church and not the leaders. And that the Pastor is the leader.

    I know the Biblical role of the Deacon and I do not see that they are leaders, except only by example in the way they live their lives...I do not find "Bosses of the Pastor" in Acts.

    2nd Issue: I love our Pastor, but I am having a hard time with him taking such a hard line on this. I mean, the man's direction seems to be good and it is based on reaching the un-churched and un-saved, but my personal misgiving is his way of basically saying "we all had better agree on this, or I shall step down or you as a deacon shall step down."

    I mean, should I be happy that I have a Pastor with some conviction, or am I heading into Jim Jones territory?

    So any kind and heartfelt advice would be greatly appreciated.


     
  2. canadyjd

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    You haven't told us how long the pastor as been at your church. One of the things a new pastor must learn, IMHO, is that he must spend time with his current congregation, gaining their trust and respect.

    Even without knowing all the particulars, it seems wrong, IMHO, for the pastor to give such an ultimatium on this issue. Any time someone tells me that God has told him to do "such and such", I ususally respond that any communication they have with God does not necessarily commit me to do anything.

    It also seems the deacon in question has taken a rather hard line himself. I do believe he has taken an unbiblical position concerning his role as a deacon. I believe scripture favors an elder led congregational form of polity, with the pastor being first among equals among the elders. Deacons are servants of the church.

    You have, essentially, a battle of wills over control of the direction of the church. Without some attempt at reconciliation, it will almost certainly lead to factions and a church split.

    Good luck.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  3. drfuss

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    drfuss: We should keep in mind that the biblical arrangements between Elders and Deacons involve having a plurality of Elders and not just one senior pastor in the place of a number of Elders.

    Most churches today have only one senior pastor. Since this is not the biblical pattern, we should rely on the agreed upon procedures and responsibilities in the church constitution and bylaws.

    Anytime a Christian gives an ultimatum involving relationships with other Christians within the church, there is something wrong with the motives of the one giving the ultimatum. It appears to me that the pastor is using his "vision" as a way to become the boss, and to get rid of anyone who may have an opinion different than his.

    Concerning the response of the oldest deacon, I would have to know the temperament of the pastor. If the pastor is the type who responds agressively, the letter may be the best way to perform his responsibility to the church and at the same time avoid an emotional explosion which could make the situation worse.. I think the deacons have a responsibility to the church to prevent the pastor from becoming the dictator.
     
    #3 drfuss, Dec 7, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2008
  4. preachinjesus

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    wow...pretty strong stand.

    man, I completely disagree with this view of the role of the Deacon. Somebody seriously needs to have a sit down Bible study about the role of the Deacons in the NT. This isn't biblical imho.

    This view of the Deaconship is exactly what has held many good churches back. It needs to be addressed. It isn't healthy or biblical. You have my prayers.

    Methinks there is more to this guy's issues than meets the eyes. I hope his last comment isn't glossed over. They are pretty direct and undermining.

    Wow pulling the I was here before you, have contributed more than you, and am the reason you're even around card. This guy has some serious issues that need to directly addressed with church discipline.




    Wow again. How long has the Pastor been at the church? Because I think not long. He's cruisin' for a bruisin'. Why would he address this on a Sunday morning? I mean if I were a guest or new attender I'd be headed for the door. I mean this is a bomb ready to go and he's playing with matches.

    His questions were pushing the point. I don't see this as awfully good leadership.

    I'm with you on this. He's being a jerk right back at the other guy. If he sent out the letter with the questions (as bad as they were) why would he openly confront this person (I guarantee my salary many in the congregation known who he is) from the puplit. That is being a bully and abusing his spiritual authority.



    Some kind of intercession is needed here. The pastor is heading for a cliff and dragging some good people with him. It doesn't help that the Deacons are willing to push him off. Man I hate seeing this happen in churches.

    Leadership, on both sides of the spectrum, begins with serving each other and being charitable. There is a notion in Baptist churches lately that the pastor is the absolute leader and can take out anybody that stands against him. I disagree with this notion when it is obvious the pastor is using his personal desires over the unifing will of God. We, in the clergy, are often too willing to abuse our spiritual authority and push people around. Leadership by any means seems to usurp God ordained humility and service. But we also see that the pastors who are pushed on the celebrity level are guys who are more than happy to push people around and abuse them.

    You have my prayers. I hope this doesn't blow up. You've got to bulls squaring off and a whole congregation sitting between them. It might be messy if they either of them doesn't back down. :)
     
  5. Revmitchell

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    The test for the Pastors leadership should be scripture and that alone. If it stands the test of that measure then there should be no argument. If it fails then it should be taken to the Pastor with love and care.

    The deacon is overstepping his biblical role. he should be given the opportunity to lay out his scriptural support for his position. And then he should be addressed based on his biblical error.

    These situations can split churches in a New York Minute. Much prayer, fasting, and the word should be employed to address it.
     
  6. Joseph M. Smith

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    The theme that I reiterate constantly in the seminary class in Baptist Polity that I teach is:

    Pastoral authority without the informed involvement of Christ’s people is tyranny; but church government by nothing more than majority rule leads to ineffectiveness.

    And so I agree with those who have said that this situation exhibits poor leadership on the part of the pastor. He will never take the people into real discipleship unless they are encouraged and empowered rather than bullied. And does he not care about each of the deacons' spiritually, especially the one who wrote the letter? This pastor needs, as has been said, to serve people and impart his vision in such a way that the deacons and others almost imagine that they themselves thought of it!

    But then there is also the question of the peripheral issues that are coming out ... time away from the church, etc. The deacon needs to come clean with those things and try to separate them from his assessment of the vision the pastor presents.

    I have to say that I do not see this ending in anything positive as it now stands.
     
  7. Jkdbuck76

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    Quick notes:

    1) Teh Pastor didn't address this to the whole congregation this morning; just to me. So if I gave the idea that he called somebody out from the pulpit, then I was wrong in doing so.

    2) We had our Deacons meeting this evening. I and the next two oldest deacons are going to have a talk with the oldest deacon. I mean, he's 85 and maybe his state of mind was not so good when he wrote the thing.

    3) The Pastor has been here for 7 years now. When we got there, the Pastor apologized and explained that maybe he didn't use the right tone or diction in his letter; and that his major problem with the XYZ Baptist church is that we have become lukewarm and we aren't reaching people.

    4) We need YOUR prayers. I love our Pastor and I love this oldest Deacon very dearly and I'm willing to concede that perhaps age/health might have contributed to this. Or maybe when he saw the Three Questions, he reacted emotionally.

    I do NOT look forward to this meeting....no sensible man would. But I need your prayers.

    Jkdbuck76
     
  8. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    You seem to be working this problem out in a reasonable manner. Perhaps you and the other deacons and pastor are learning something in the process.

    By all means you should have a collective meeting with the pastor and all deacons and discuss the spiritual atmosphere of the church.

    In our Canadian churches, the deacons do play a vital role in the spiritual life of the church, and they should get involved. The pastors, in the main, do not spend their lifetime in a church. Some do, but most don't. The deacons should be giving soome direction with the pastor as a leader and spiritual "father" to the deacons, and not a dictator.

    All the very best to you, your deacons and your pastor.

    I am not so sure that age enters into the problem and if it does, perhaps he shouldn't be a deacon at all.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    The attitude of the pastor (from his letter and his comments as you recorded) show the most ungodly, self-centered and false view of eldership and servant leadership of a local church.

    If I were a member of that church I would immediately bring action against such a man.
     
  10. dh1948

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    This is not good. The deacon is obviously way off base in his understanding of the role of a deacon. Someone needs to schedule him for a "come-to-Jesus" meeting. Truth is, at his age, he will be very hard to convince that he is wrong. I think as long as the other deacons understand that he is wrong, his influence can be diluted.

    As for the pastor.....I would have guessed he was a newbie to the pastorate. Not much wisdom exhibited in his words. I think a pastor should believe he has clear direction from God regarding the future of the church he pastors. At the same time, he must have the sense to know how to "package" his vision in such a way that the church will "buy into it." Using threats of resignation is not the right "package."

    I predict that this pastor is on his way out.
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    Jkdbuck76, I, too and the chairman of deacons at my church. Your story is heartbreaking to me. Our church went through some serious conflict 25-30 years ago, mainly over relocation. It was so painful, I vowed I'd never be part of another church fight unless it involved heresy. Then I'd tear up jack. But not over who gets his way.

    When we relocated, just about all the opponents relocated to other churches. Our attendance dropped by 60%. 25 years ago, our average Sunday attendance was more than 350. Today it's around 60. We have wonderful unity and harmony, there is great love in our church, but the cost of getting there was dear. I have come to hate church conflict with a passion.

    That's why our pastor and deacons consider carefully any issue which has the potential to damage that harmony. This may be the appeal you make to your pastor and your fellow deacons. Is the pastor's vision worth dividing the deacons and dividing the church over?

    Further, I always am leery when God gives a vision to the pastor, but not to anybody else in the church--particularly the deacons (or other elders), who presumably are the most spiritual and wisest men in the church.

    On the other hand, since the pastor must give account to God, he ought to get the benefit of the doubt.

    And it is always the biblical ideal that what ever direction the pastor leads the church, they ought to go together. For a pastor to have to drag a church (and its deacons) along signals a larger problem than just the vision. We have a power struggle, and rarely does good from it.

    The pastor needs to reconsider his ultimatums. Everybody ought to back off and start over--on their faces before God.
     
  12. PeterM

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    Seems like there is error all around... The pastor (assuming we have all the facts) is oblivious as to how to lead people lovingly, gently, and consistently. As soon as you have to say, "I'm in charge", you have already experienced failure. The deacon(s) have completely misdefined their role and need to be instructed the difference between a deacon and and elder (which is all too common).

    I would think everybody backing up a step or two would be in good order for the sake of the body. This may sound silly, but as a pastor I think it's good to spend a good amount of personal time with deacons and leaders "off campus". I frequently take guys to lunch or share some time over coffee, NOT talking about church business... building relationships. I have found that when changes need to be made or a shift in directing is warrented, the trust and support I need is ample.

    Ministry=Relationships (healthy ones)
     
  13. saturneptune

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    I am a deacon under the Chairmanship of Tom Butler who posted above. His picture of the atmosphere at our church is 100% correct. We have not had any fights for 30 years, but have had differences. Just last night, we discussed the issue of open vs closed communion for our church. It was done in a very civil and Christ-like manner. Tom Butler is a very insightful leader, and keeps things running smooth.

    As to this situation, sometimes I think deacons forget they are servants, not a governing authority. If one wants elected represenatives to govern a church, then they need to switch from congregational rule to elder rule, which is up to the local church. At the same time, the pastor is not a dictator. If God is in this or that plan, then there will be a unity or near unity amongst the pastor and deacons.

    This is not a place for power plays. The pastor is called of God to be the spiritual leader of a church, and unless he is doing something unbiblical, then the deacons are there to support and uphold the pastor. At the same time, the pastor has an obligation to listen to the deacons.

    It seems to me the above situation is already doomed, as there is missing the unity of the Spirit, as everyone is focused on a human power play. God needs to get hold of that pastor and some deacons in that church. If a sense of unity and the Spirit cannot be achieved before the church is ripped apart, the congregation needs to get a new pastor and some new deacons.
     
  14. Palatka51

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    you and Tom have indeed given very wise counsel. :thumbs:
     
  15. Jim1999

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    elder and bishop are just other designations for pastor! The word deacon is only used about 6 times in the bible, and almost each time used with a different role. The chief role under the name of deacon was a server at a table,,a waiter, as it were.

    Modern day deacons should have spiritual responsibilities and leadership. Who takes care of things when a church is without a pastor? Usually the deacons. This is not negating the congregation of members, They all have a vote; deacons are also members.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  16. Jkdbuck76

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    You, sir, have our sympathies. :laugh:
    Just kidding.

    I appreciate everyone's input and prayers.
     
  17. webdog

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    I'm missing where the pastor said this...

    It seems like he has the right attitude that the elders are the spiritual leaders of the church per Scripture, and if the church doesn't agree, he would step down, or the deacons (who are NOT the spiritual leaders in the church) who think they are should step down.
     
    #17 webdog, Dec 8, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2008
  18. webdog

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    The deacon wrote the letter...not the pastor. I agree that action should be brought against the deacon.
     
  19. Tom Butler

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saturneptune
    I am a deacon under the Chairmanship of Tom Butler who posted above.


    Actually, he has my sympathies, too.
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    Quote:
    The pastor (assuming we have all the facts) is oblivious as to how to lead people lovingly, gently, and consistently. As soon as you have to say, "I'm in charge", you have already experienced failure.

    I half-way agree with you. If a church has an elder-led congregation, your point is well taken. However, most Baptist churches, mine included, have one elder--the pastor. We do recognize him as the spiritual leader of our church.

    And we deacons consider ourselves as servants, not leaders.

    However, in most Baptist churches, the deacons are also considered spiritual leaders by the congregation. It is the deacons who are looked to to provide leadership along with the pastor. That may not be the way we want it; that may not be the way it should be, but that's the way it is.

    If the deacons function as elders, it's because that's the way the congregation wants it.
     

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