When should a senior pastor be fired?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Jason Garrett, May 20, 2005.

  1. Jason Garrett

    Jason Garrett
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    First, I'll reference a post made by a brother on another thread:

    "I had a very similar problem 20 years ago when I took my present church. I just kept preaching and pretty soon the trouble makers either got right with God or they realized they couldn't run me off so they left. I have had 18 years of peace, growth, and the moving of the spirit. We have started 5 new churches out of ours, and we presently have 3 church planters on the field planting 3 more new works."

    Now, its obvious those in his church who criticized him and left were not close with the Lord. Why is it obvious? Because his church has flourished. God will not thrive and grow a church for a significant amount of time that is not honoring Him.

    Ok. Here's the situation I was in 2 years ago. Our senior pastor of over 30 years retired. He left the church in not too good of shape. The youth ministry was highly neglected, there was no real emphasis placed on evangelism, and the membership and attendance was shrinking (1998 there were approximately 1,200 in attendance on a given Sunday, 2002 there were around 550). During that decrease there were no scandals or anything crazy that would result in a mass exodus. There were simply other churches in town, both SBC and Non-denom, which were on fire for the Lord.

    Now, the search process took a couple of years, but we finally found a pastor. The situation he was coming in to was a little tense, as one of the associate pastors was on bad terms with the chairman of the deacon committee. Anyhow, the chairman of the deacons was also the chairman of the search committee. As soon as the new pastor arrived, the first thing he did was fire this associate pastor of 25 years for allegations of having a bad temper and damaging the public perception of the church. However, the allegations were never founded, never investigated, etc. I know this because I was a Deacon at the time. It quickly became obvious to many deacons that there was a power struggle going on, and our chairman had an obvious agenda to get rid of this assoc. pastor.

    To add fodder to the fire, another associate pastor, the youth pastor, was the son-in-law of the other pastor who was fired. Funny, because our chairman also had a beef with the youth pastor. He felt the youth pastor was too mean to the youth. He would do things like ask youth to leave Sunday School and Wednesday night activities because they were being very disruptive. I volunteered for the youth and I saw this on many occasions, including on several occasions to the son and daughter of our chairman. Obviously the chairman's beef with the youth pastor was personal and not Biblican.

    So what was the next thing the senior pastor did? Fire the youth pastor.

    Over the next few months, myself and several other deacons requested to meet with the senior pastor to find out what was really going on. He refused such a meeting every single time. He would preach sermons on how if you cause disagreements in the church or disagree with the pastor, God just might kill you, and brought up a couple of stores of "real" people who this happened to (or so we were told).

    Anyway, many, many, many people left that church and are now at others throughout the city. I saw our chairman at a Wal Mart several months after that and he had the gall to tell me, "Our church is praying for those of you who left. We hope you will repent and get right with the Lord."

    Are you kidding? I did not say anything to the man and simply walked away.

    So, my question is this. Do pastors think they are ALWAYS right? Is it possible for a pastor to be caniving and have questionable motives? If so, is it wrong for his congregation to hold him accountable, which is what we tried to do?

    Because of all this, I will never, ever again be involved in the inner workings of a church, as deacons and elders are. I want no part of it.

    But please, pastors, reading the story I presented, how was I/we wrong? I just can't see where we erred.

    Thank you.
     
  2. exscentric

    exscentric
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    "Now, its obvious those in his church who criticized him and left were not close with the Lord. Why is it obvious? Because his church has flourished. God will not thrive and grow a church for a significant amount of time that is not honoring Him."

    Some flaws. Bad churches grow just like good ones do, just depends on the situation. God isn't the only one that grow churches, the Devil loves to grow them :-( Those leaving can't be judged on what the church did afterwards.

    "So, my question is this. Do pastors think they are ALWAYS right? Is it possible for a pastor to be caniving and have questionable motives? If so, is it wrong for his congregation to hold him accountable, which is what we tried to do?"

    Yes, yes, and no. However not always :)

    "Because of all this, I will never, ever again be involved in the inner workings of a church, as deacons and elders are. I want no part of it."

    Trust you don't close the Lord out of that decision, he may have a great board for you to sit on in the future :)

    If you prayed and felt you were doing what was right, that is all you can do - get on with your life. Churches aren't perfect, people aren't perfect, nor is all this verbage from me :)

    I know your frustration, and you should know many have walked this path before you :-(
     
  3. gb93433

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    How does that compare to Robert Schuller?
     
  4. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    I think it is customary that all the staff offer their resignations when a senior pastor is hired. That allows the senior pastor to find the staff that works best with him. He may or may not accept their resignations, but they should be offered.

    In this situation, hearing only one side of hte story, it is difficult to offer any perspective, and we would all be wise not.

    To answer your questions however, No, the pastor is not always right; yes, he can be conniving, and no, it is not wrong to question him and hold him accountable, provided it is done in the right spirit.

    There are also times when things a pastor knows that requires firing or dismissing someone cannot be made public. In the bottom line, IMO, if you don't trust your pastor, then he shouldn't be your pastor.
     
  5. WallyGator

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    Larry,
    You took the words right out of my mouth. Strangy, most churches or incoming pastors don't request staff resignations anymore. From experience, I can tell you it would ease future tensions if they did.
    WallyGator
     
  6. Jason Garrett

    Jason Garrett
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    Can you please educate me on why it would be beneficial for junior staff to offer their resignations? Seems to me every pastor on staff has their own ministry within the ministry, and are leading their specific ministry based on God's leading. It just doesn't make sense to me. Thanks in advance.

    CC
     
  7. Karen

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    We do come from different traditions. I had never heard of this before this thread.
    No SBC church I have ever been acquainted with does that. Each staff member is called separately.
    I have heard prospective pastors asked if they could work with other current staff members. A yes answer worked in their favor. [​IMG]
    I would think automatically expecting resignations would actually increase tensions. Besides, it is not the senior pastor who hires other pastors, it is the church.

    Karen
     
  8. exscentric

    exscentric
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    I see the good in resignations - allows the new man to get a fresh start if needed, but then there is the other side, all should have been sought out by the Spirit, prayed over and called to the ministry they are in.

    Knew a small school where the faculty had been lead to the school by God to apply - all felt they were there at His call when the board got heavy handed and ran the entire faculty off.

    One of the board members was complaining a few weeks later about all the work that the board had to do, and one of the faculty members over heard him, walked up behind him and quietly said, "I was called to do all this work, were you?"

    I think we are forgetting, at times, who is in charge. Not that I might not like a few resignations if I was the new guy on the block :)
     
  9. TexasSky

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    Too bad we can't get the "my way or the highway -pew" to resign along with the old staff.

    Seriously - I often see staff hold churches together during that difficult transition period. I don't know if they offer to resign or not, but I've never seen a total staff turn over before.
     
  10. GODzThunder

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    Well I just was made to resign from my pastorate due to a power struggle between myself and the former (now deceased) pastor's wife. No matter what I did or how I did it she would ridicule and deride it. It finally got to the point where she slandered me and derided me behind my back to get just enough influential people, four others, to send me on my way.

    I am not bitter over this even but I do resent the fact that a few good people were hurt in the crossfire.

    I believe that a senior pastor should be fired when he stops walking with God. I have seen too many godly men fired over petty diffences and squabbles. I am sure that God frowns upon many a church member over their pettiness.

    How do you know when a pastor is rightfully terminated? When you do not have to seek to remove him secretively and underhandedly. When you do not have to rally people behind you and cause a split of opinion. If God is ready for him to leave God will open the door and remove him personally.
     
  11. Pastor Larry

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    Why would it be beneficial? Because the senior pastor is the senior pastor. He has a set of gifts and abilities, and the staff needs to complement that. He needs to be able to choose those who work with him in the ministry. He may choose to retain some or all of current staff. There could certainly be benefits to doing such. But he should not be forced to work with a staff.

    It is also dangerous for staff to be called by the church rather than hired by the pastor. It creates divided loyalties and holds great possibility for tension among competing views. An assistant is an extension of the pastor, and he should not be put in a place where he can be played against the pastor. The job of an assistant is to support the senior pastor's ministry.

    I think much of this stems from a faulty view of the pastor. The Bible describes the pastor as the overseer of the church. As such, he is the manager, and the decisions about who will work for him belong to him. The Bible does not prescribes assistants or staff positions. In its infancy with house churches, it did not address larger churches with multiple elders. The assistant pastor is a function of the modern church, and they serve good purposes, but they are extensions of the pastor's ministry. He should have the authority to hire and fire his extensions. He would be wise to move slowly and carefully, seek input from others, but in the end, it is his decision to make.

    The church staff does hold a church together during transition times to be sure, and an incoming pastor would be wise to have an extensive consideration process before making any moves relative to staff. But a pastoral staff member should offer his resignation to the new pastor if he so desires it. It would be perfectly appropriate for him to say something along the lines of "I desire to stay and would be honored to continue if you would have me. But I will resign if you so desire." I don't know that I have ever see a total staff turnover, but then I have never been around a church during a time of transition. My pastors were always very long term and I was in a church only once during a change, when the assistant became the pastor.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    It seems to me as well, that a potential pastor who says he could work with the ones currently on staff lacks the kind of judgment I would want in a pastor. How could he possibly know that, unless he were currently on staff being considered for the sr pastor position, or unless he were a current member of the church? Do you really want a guy who promises he can work with people that he doesn't know?

    If someone were to ask me that, I would say "I don't know." I would have to sit down with them, have extensive conversations about theology, philosophy, gifts, abilities, passions, desires, etc. There is no way to know whether or not you can work with someone until you have taken the time to get to know them.
     
  13. Sularis

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    Umm Larry - regretfully in today's world - you are supposed to get along with everyone sight unseen.

    and may God have mercy on your soul if you dont!

    Because you sure as golly gee gosh cant work with a Christian organization if you cant put up with consistent homosexual jokes, cursing, put downs, and physical threats from your co-workers. Because if you cant you arent a team player!

    Its silly I know - Lord knows there are many pastors that deserve to be fired and tarred and feathered - like the ones who think Im the manager of the church. ;)

    No he's a pastor - different - VERY different - I think you have a much different reading of what a pastor's duty is then I do.

    However since yer powermad ;) and a pastor Larry - I assume - many will toe your line.

    However for the sake of curiousity; why dont you start another thread about the role of the pastor - and we'll disagree with each other as usual.

    See you on that thread Larry
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    Your post doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Perhaps there are inside jokes that I am not getting, but I am very confused as to what you are saying, and waht do you want to start a thread about? The Bible says that the elder is the overseer, or manager of the church. That is his job. I am not sure why there is confusion about that.
     
  15. patrick

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    Sen. pastor? Where do we get that title from? sounds very CEo like to me. I have served in ministry for several years. Asking staff to resign sounds as if it is a power play to me. God tells me when my job is done. God led me to and he will lead me from. You are asking people to resign affects peoples families. You folks need to get a clue. Would I resign? Only if that was what God wanted!!!
     
  16. TexasSky

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    Patrick,

    I agree with, "Asking staff to resign sounds as if it is a power play to me."

    God calls each person to a special mission. It seems unlikely to me that God would suddenly decide that everyone on a church staff is "unfit" to do the job He called them to do.

    Now, if you get in, and you find that you really CAN'T work with the current staff, talk, pray, and then ask for resignations.

    But never, ever forget - it is about God.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    NOt at all. Senior pastor is the term used to refer to the pastor in the church who is the head pastor. It is used to distinguish his position from the assistants.

    God speaks through other people, particularly in his body. We know God's will for a church by what the body votes for. God led you to that church through the call issued by the sr. pastor or the church, depending on how it is set up, and he leads you away by the same means. God uses the authority in your life to tell you what his will is. There is no power play involved. How can there be a power play when the new pastor isn't even there yet? This is a matter of practicality.

    You say that asking people to resign affects their families. So does asking them to stay. EVerythign affects their families. Asking them to stay in a situation where they do not fit philosophically, theologically, or in terms of spiritual gifts affects their families. Using that reasoning, you can never ask a person to resign or fire them because it affects their families. I am sure that you didn't put much thought into that and consider the ramifications of what you are saying.

    Again, understand that there is no bibical direction on this either way since assistants are not addressed in the NT. This is a matter of how things work practically and what is considered to be accepted. It is different in different places, but as a general rule, a sr pastor should be allowed to surround himself with the people who can work best with him. If that is people already on staff, then so be it. If not, then let them go.

    But understand it isn't about power, at least from my perspective. It is about ministry.
     
  18. LarryN

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    Pastor Larry wrote: "...as a general rule, a sr pastor should be allowed to surround himself with the people who can work best with him. If that is people already on staff, then so be it. If not, then let them go."

    Larry, what factors would or could indicate that existing staff would not work well with a new Sr. Pastor; and how much time should be allowed to make that determination? What I think I'm really getting at is: can a new Sr. Pastor make such a determination prior to working with staff? I would assume that there would be no theological differences involved, given that those who hold to distinctly different theology are unlikely to be on staff or hired at the same local church. So are we speaking simply of personality differences; or are there possibly other factors involved?
     
  19. Sularis

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    Sorry Pastor Larry - was referring to certain instances in my past where I got along well with a man who physically threatened me and cursed me repeatedly - but I didnt get along well with a man who made homosexual and other inappropriate jokes about me and my country; while cursing and swearing at me. I was later told that I wasnt a team player

    But lets get back to the point I was trying to make

    A pastor is NOT in charge - a pastor has NO authority - a pastor is NO higher then an elder.

    In the NT church there was not man in charge of each church by himself but rather elders who shared the preaching and teaching load

    I focus on 1Peter 5:1-3 and heavy emphasis on verse 3

    Matthew 20:25-26 - 23:8-10
    2Corinthians 1:24
    3John 1:9-10
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    There are a lot of factors, and there may be no "one right answer." A pastor might be able to tell after a conversation or two whether or not a good working relationship would exist. An incoming pastor might have a philosophy of ministry that an existing staff member doesn't have (e.g. youth, music, small groups, counseling, etc.). That would mean one or the other would have to go. An incoming pastor might have a view on soteriology that a staff member does not have. There oculd be a lot of factors.

    As I said, an incoming pastor might be wise to keep the staff the same, but he should be given that option.
     

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