I would like to have your input and comments on a very real situation that a church is experiencing. I am not a member of the church, but I do have some very close connections in the church. There are a lot of details, so bear with me. It is a Baptist church in its theology, though not in name. The current pastor has been there for about 15 years. He is very intelligent and has a Ph.D. from an Ivy League college. In my opinion his speaking skills are rather weak, but he has evidently been a good pastor over the years. Over the past 15 years the church has a very impressive record of growth and ministry. Attendance climbed from 200 to around 1000-1100 on Sunday mornings. The church has a multiple staff...10 staffers in all...that is mostly full-time. Among these are four pastoral staffers, with the pastor being the lead pastor. The staff works with a church leadership council that serves as a sounding board, plus it serves as a mediator over any staff conflicts. About a year ago, the pastor began to insist that he was to never be questioned about anything he did or said by the staff. He began to accuse some of the staffers of not being loyal to him. He soon began to lie to the deacons and leadership council about various things some of the staff had allegedly said or done. He started monitoring all emails and social sites postings. It was like he was paranoid. To get to the point, over the past year he has fired five of the staff members, including the four pastoral staff members. No one suspected anything to be awry with the release of the first two staffers, because it was reported to the church by him that these people had felt God leading them to resign, though neither had a calling to any other church. When the next three were fired over the course of 4 months, people started to ask questions. No one would talk. Not even the fired people. Why? Here was the deal offered to each staff member...they were given severance packages with the stipulation that they not publicly say anything negative about the pastor or church. They could not tell anyong they had been fired or had been given the option of resigning or being fired. If they did, their severance packages would be negated. No one was given a lump sum as a severance. The packages were spread out over several weeks. One of the staffers was fired on the spot and not given any severance. Of course the pastor announced to the church that the person had resigned. This staffer had nothing to lose, so they told the truth to anyone who asked. This started a ground-swell of curiosity about what really happened to the other staffers who "resigned." By the way, the leadership council knew the truth long before the church found out. Because most of the council members were personal friends of the pastor, they blocked information from being given to the church and refused to hold the pastor accountable for his actions. Over the course of the past two months, the pastor agreed to meet with various church members who wanted to know what was going on. The only thing he would tell them was that the staffers resigned because there were things they did not agree with him on. Several members of the leadership council have resigned, but those who stayed on are the ones supportive of the pastor's actions. No one seems to be willing to get this matter brought before the church. They know that many families have left and more will be leaving if something is not done, but the pastor seems to know just what to do to keep the church from becoming involved in addressing the situation. In fact, recently the church gave a reception for one of the staffers who "resigned." Another "resigned" staffer wanted to attend the reception. When they arrived at the church they were met by two city police officers who informed them that they could not enter the building. They were given no reason other than they were following the orders of the pastor. One of the fired staffers told me they planned to publicly "face the giant" on a recent Sunday morning and ask him why he could not seem to get along with the staff. I advised this person to not do that. I felt it would have only hurt them and could cause chaos during the service. I have been told that around 700 people in the church are ready for the pastor to leave or they are going to leave. His response? "If it will further the kingdom, it will be best for them to leave." (Close to an exact quote). He has succeeded in shielding himself from any accountability, using the smokescreen of God's will. Nobody who is in a key leadership in the church has the courage to publicly confront the pastor. Things are in a mess. I usually side with the pastor in the event there is a conflict between him and the staff and/or church. I can't do it in this situation. I know a lot more than I am sharing with you. I have no doubt that he is wrong. Anytime a pastor sets himself up as the untouchable potentate in his church, he is wrong. I apologize for the length of this post. I am interested in your responses.