Pastors, what would you do?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Pastor_Bob, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    I would respectfully asks that this thread be limited to replies by pastors only. I am seeking the pastor's perspective on these questions. Thank you for your understanding.

    There is a church in our county that is going through a pastoral change. The issues involved in the decision are irrelevant, except to say that the pastor agreed to and accepted the church's SOF prior to being called.

    About 2 years ago, the church began to see the pastor's position changing on some issues that they felt were key issues. They went to the pastor and presented their concerns to him. He began teaching his people regarding these issues to help them understand his position more clearly. Let me state here that this pastor stated that he believed these issues before he was called as pastor. About six months ago, the pastor admitted that he held his position on these issues before he took this church.

    Three weeks ago, the Board of Deacons approached the pastor and asked him to resign. The pastor refused to resign. This past Sunday evening the church voted to terminate this pastor. The vote was right at 60% to terminate 40% to retain. The 40%, I am told, were largely new members that had come since this pastor began.

    1. What would you have done in this situation? Would you have resigned at the first request? Would you have taken it to a vote? Would you take the 40% and start a church across town?

    2. Do you feel that the church was justified in asking this pastor to resign and then subsequently voting him out?

    3. Do you feel that this pastor was dishonest with the church while he was being considered as pastor?
     
  2. PastorDave

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    From the information you have given I would say this pastor came in under false pretenses. I think that in and of itself is sufficient enough to warrent asking for his resignation. Even though we are not told what these issues are, the very fact that he misrepresented his position is critical in this discussion. So yes, I would say based on this information the church would be justified in voting this pastor out.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    Your third paragraph is a bit confusing: Let me state here that this pastor stated that he believed these issues before he was called as pastor. About six months ago, the pastor admitted that he held his position on these issues before he took this church. Is his current position (and old one) different from what he told them he believed?

    If what he said he believed when he came is still what he believed, then that's one thing. If he said he believed one thing and actually believed another, he should have resigned, and if he didn't, they had the right to vote him out.

    So ...

    1. Depends.
    2. Yes, justified in both.
    3. Yes, if he said he believed something that he really didn't. If he later changed his mind, then that is different.
     
  4. go2church

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    Are these issues related to salvation or are they secondary issues? If I had folks coming to me and asking me to resign and 60% didn't want me around anymore, I would be packing!

    If he believed these things before he came to the church, yet was NEVER asked about them or it NEVER came up in his preaching/ teaching and it is only covered in general terms in the SoF, I don't see that he did anything wrong, but I would still leave, asking of course for time to find another position.

    Does the SoF have general guidelines or is it specific on every topic?
     
  5. TomVols

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    Obviously, there are levels of importance to the nuances of our doctrines. For instance, I can abide with a three or four or five point calvinist because there is a tremendous amount of agreement for the most part. However, if a man denies the sinlessness of Christ or the inspiration of the Bible, well, we just can't play in the same sandbox because we're using two different kinds of sand [​IMG]

    I say that to say that part of my response would depend on the level of doctrine we're talking about. Regardless, if a man says he wholeheartedly believes an entire SoF, knowing he does not, he is a liar. If a man says he can support the SofF and not teach contrary to it, though he holds differences of opinion, then so be it. It's also a much different animal if the man has come to different doctrinal conclusions over the course of his ministry at the church and now finds himself unable to believe and/or support the church's SoF.

    For your questions:
    1. It depends on the doctrines at hand and how torn up the church is. Even if these are minor doctrines, if the church has rendered a ministry ineffective because of their factiousness, then resignation and seeking a new church might be appropriate. I would not seek to start a new church unless the circumstances were important enough to warrant; that is, is the doctrine that important? Is the old church so marginalized that genuine worship and ministry is not possible?
    2. Yes, if the pastor lied to them and/or the doctrine was major. No if this was over whether or not Paul was married or (what just got a pastor fired across town) if his understanding of one of the birds in a parable is different from what some deacons think.
    3. Depends. If he held incongruent views and said he'd support the SoF, then I think there's some latitude there. If he said he believed the SoF while knowing good and well he didn't, then he was less than honest. If his position changed, well, who among us hasn't had that happen to us? I started pastoring as a 20 year old boy. My opinions have changed over the years. I'd say that's true for about all of us.
     
  6. FWBPastor

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    I'll keep it short.

    1a. Probably
    1b. Possibly
    1c. That would be up to the 40%. Personally, I would never ASK them. If they came to me, I would respond positively.

    2a. Yes
    2b. Yes

    3. Yes, he was being dishonest. Any differences he had with SOF should have been discussed BEFORE he accepted the call.

    Bill
     
  7. StefanM

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    1)I would resign, and I would not try to split the church.

    2)Yes, to both.

    3)Yes, he should have been honest about his convictions.

    What issue was it?
     
  8. Pastor_Bob

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    He told the church that he believed just like the SOF read. Then, after a about two years, he began to preach contradictions to what he said he believed. We pressed on the issue, he admitted that he did not believe exactly like the church, and, in fact, he didn't when he came.

    Here is a hypothetical situation that is not the issue at hand, that might explain it better:
    The pastor was asked about his view of the Lord's Supper. The pastor stated that he believed as the church believes in "closed communion." After two years, the pastor began indicating in his preaching that he believed in "open communion." When asked by the deacons, he admitted that he believed in "open communion" even when he said that he believed in "closed communion."
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    Then he needs to go and the church was right to vote him out.
     
  10. StefanM

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    I agree with Pastor Larry.
     
  11. TomVols

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    Agreed, so long as both sides are clear on the meaning of the terms. I believe who can participate in the Lord's Supper is not on the level of Bibliology or Christology, but it is tied so closely to Christology that it is not mere ecclesiology. "Allowing" (and that is a whole other discussion) unbelievers to take communion is letting people testify to something and attempt to partake of something they cannot rightfully or experientially use. If we're talking about the difference between "close" and "closed" communion, I'd really have to ask why is division necessary over such? The church could allow the pastor to belive his beliefs, yet the church should be allowed to maintain its practice until they have studied it out better and fully determined how important to the life of the body that such a division is.

    Lloyd-Jones, Mohler, and others have articulated a kind of "levels of importance" theory of doctrine. There are non-negotiables. There are areas that are important but since we "See through a glass darkly" we can hold different opinions. Then there are trifles. Far too many pastors are slaughtered and churches split over the latter.
     
  12. gb93433

    gb93433
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    There may be two sides to that problem.

    It is possible that the same thing happened to the pastor as happened to me. One church I pastored gave me a statement of faith and represented it as though they wanted me to make some changes. The chairman of the pastor search committee even told me about the proposed changes the deacons wanted to make. I agreed with the changes. But then later when the congregation started seeing those changes they were not so sure they liked what they saw, partly because of many in the congregation who did not know. Early in the interview process the chairman of the pastor search committee represented to me as though the other leaders wanted the changes he spoke to me about. What I found out later is that the chairman had a personal agenda along with t he deacons but didn't stand up and accept responsibility for his talks with me. I was left holding the bag. It became rather vicious even though the church was exploding with growth and new believers. Our youth group more than doubled as well as the entire church. I was the one who had to go because of one person in the interview process I trusted to be truthful who led the way.

    The church today exists but is steadily dying and complacent. Some of the deacons have resigned and the church is stagnant.

    [ October 26, 2005, 01:53 PM: Message edited by: gb93433 ]
     
  13. Pastor_Bob

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    I can assure you that this is not the case. I knew the former pastor of this church. I know many of the members personally. This new pastor did a complete 180 on the issues that he was called on.
     
  14. exscentric

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    Just a note, this is not all that uncommon. Men coming in agreeing with the soff and then preaching something else. I have run into churches where the church was taken over by the man with his new people that he has taught. Depending on how the church government is set up at times the man is thwarted due to roadblocks he didn't see coming.

    There has been a lot of concern in independent Bible church groups that seem expecially prone to being taken over by reformed/covenant men. Just things I've read online over time and some talking with people in churches where it has happened.

    Ethics are lacking, in my opinion.

    One church called a man, he built it up with his family and soon had a majority and made the decision to merge with a denominational church in the area against the wishes of the older members that weren't family. The denominational church had no building, but suddenly they did. Guess where the pastor found a new denominational church to pastor.

    As to starting another church - mixed feelings. Know a church that has split four times and there are now five fairly good churches.

    At the same time it causes problems in other situations. May depend on how the people on both sides end up spiritually, whether they settle things with the Lord or not if there are such problems.

    Also, I'm not sure that the lost are positively impacted with splits etc. In some areas the lost get very turned off by the chuch bickering.
     
  15. gb93433

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    In my case the members of the church did not know. It was never told to the church by the deacons and chairman of the pastor search committee. The blame was put on me and I chose not to reveal the personal agenda of the deacons.

    If it were me I would directly confront the pastor in person with another person first to find out what really happened. I believe that according to Mt. 18 he deserves a confrontation. Then if it is really a case of bait and switch then whoever caused the problem must go.

    I have seen too many casees where I thought I knew all the facts until I got more of the facts by talking with each person individually. I remember one case well where I weaqs totally wrong. When I talekd with the person who I thought was the problem it turend out to be someone I didn't even guess would be.

    You may be totally right and the congregation may be totally right but the man deserves a confrontation before any decision is made. That kind of thing will help everyone involved. It will leave out the guessing game and people who might wonder.
     
  16. Pastor_Bob

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    I have chosen to not get involved personally. The only advice that I have given any of the churches members is simply, "Talk to your pastor."

    NEW QUESTION

    If you agreed with the pastor's theology, which I can say that many here would, do you still think he was wrong in trying to introduce teaching that the church had already stated they were against? Would you have taken this church in the first place?
     
  17. TomVols

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    Again, that's hard to answer since we don't know the level of importance of this particular doctrinal tenet. On balance, I'd say if it was a non-essential, why touch it since you've already agreed to abide by it? If it's a non-essential, you are under the compulsion of the Word to proclaim it's fullness.

    Would I have taken the church? Hate to sound like a broken record, but I'd have to know the importance of the doctrinal issue. Again, if it's a non-essential, we ought to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. But if it was important, no.
     
  18. PastorDave

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    In my view the importance of the doctrine is irrelevant to the whole of this discussion. I can't get past the part that this pastor stated his agreeement with the church prior to coming when in reality he did not agree. That is an issue of character. It sounds like he was willing to say anything to land this particular church. How can this church trust this man's word when he so readily lied from the outset.
     
  19. StefanM

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    Even if his teachings were true, he should have been honest from the beginning.

    He should have never taken the church.
     
  20. j_barner2000

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    The man should have been up front in his disagreement. The church I now pastor had a prior pastor add the KJVO stance to their SOF. I came filling the pulpit and I typically preach out of the NASB as I did that Sunday and all but 1 since I have been pastor. (The exception was as a tribute to a mother's love on Mother's day when I preached out of a 60 year old KJV.) They decided to ask me to candidate as pastor knowing I am not KJVO. We are growing spiritually and numerically together, even though there was a disagreement between their written SOF and mine. The KJVO stance was removed by the membership as they state they never ratified it and God is blessing. If the man came under false pretenses, then he was wrong and should have resigned or been released.

    If the church wolud have stood on the stance, I may have accepted it with the understanding that I do not agree, but will use the KJV from the pu;pet, but I can not teach what I don't believe.
     

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