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Time to Retire?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Salty, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    I visited a church this past week.

    The pastor is 82 years old, unable to drive and is in poor health. In addition his wife is in a nursing home, which concerns him greatly.

    It appears that his time as an effective pastor has passed.

    How should a church approach such a man to recommend/inform that he should retire?
     
  2. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus Well-Known Member
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    One of the hardest conversations to have is with an aged minister who is simply not able to effectively administer the duties of his office, yet has the desire to remain (whether that's driven from a true sense of calling or, honestly, financial realities.)

    Not too long ago I was asked about this by several faithful members of a smaller church in our area that was seeing the same thing. Their 74 year old pastor had been there for 45 years and seemed to desire to die in the pulpit (or something similar.) I told them to think about the challenge the Green Bay Packers had in letting Brett Favre go. The similarities are profound.

    In the end, I usually encourage a concerned group of faithful members to ask a close ministerial friend to begin approaching the pastor about this and not make it a point of gossip. The longer he lingers the more damage it does to a local congregation. Though he might truly desire to remain in the pulpit, any pastor's calling is, in part, to ensure the most effective leadership for a local church is in place.

    If that doesn't work, then the lay leadership, a small group at first, needs to approach the pastor and be honest about the realities and where they need to go. Sometimes these are hard conversations and need to be handled gracefully. Yet, this aging minister has already had them in his own life and knows that his effective days are past. Making the pastor an emeritus position is often helpful, and then being sure that a transition is in place that he can help (though not direct) with is important too.

    Hard times for any church to be sure.
     
  3. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Perhaps taking the approach PiJ suggested, with the offer of a "pastor emeritus" status would ease the transition, making it clear that such a title does not place him in leadership, but only advisory status, and then only when asked.
     
  4. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    My advice has not been asked - so I don't plan on giving any. (but its good to be prepared.) However, there is interest in me possibly being a guest speaker if needed. I gave them my business card.

    I think Preach gave some excellent advice - especially approaching from the position of an offer of Pastor emeritus .


    Salty
     
  5. 12strings

    12strings Active Member

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    I think if our church ever has a really difficult situation, I'm going to pm preachinjeses for advice...
     
  6. DHK

    DHK <b>Moderator</b>

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    It is sad but it happens quite frequently in our society, both in the ministry and in the secular field, that people come to the age of retirement and find that they can't retire. All of their life they have lived on minimum wage. They have never found a way to save or have not had a retirement fund. They have nothing to retire on. Unless the church takes care of them what will they do?
    There are some ladies in our church approaching 90 still working.
    It is amazing that they have the health to keep on keeping on.
    To some extent it is their decision, but OTOH, what would be their quality of living without the extra income?
     
  7. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    But what is the quality of the spirituality of the church?

    I am not familiar with the church finances, however, I have a feeling this particular pastor may recieve very little from the church. He does (or did ) work outside the church. For 14 years, he was a VA Chaplain
     
    #7 Salty, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
  8. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills Active Member

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    Just speaking in generalities, not this specific situation, and I'll prob get beat up for this but??

    (1) Shouldn't a pastor (out of anybody in a church) be humble enough to recognize its time to let it go.

    (2) Shouldn't a pastor (out of anybody in a church) be forward thinking enough to have helped groom younger men in the church for the future, knowing that this life is but a vapor.

    I definitely am not saying there is ever retirement from service of the Lord, but point being the health of the church is most important in these situations, and a mature pastor could gracefully exit knowing that the Lord would provide.
     
  9. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    TH - you are so correct!

    I'm just wondering if part of the thinking is "But If I retire, who will take over?"

    or some similar thinking of the church.

    When I was a driving instructor, I had a few senior adult students who had to repass thier road test to retain thier license. One of them was my anut. I am so glad it was DMV who took her license. She was not fit to drive anymore - I just didnt have the heart to tell her.

    And I think its the same with pastors - its just so hard to tell someone the truth.
     
  10. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills Active Member

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    Not saying these situations shouldn't be handled gracefully but, in your post above your describing a prideful attitude by the elderly pastor, and an idolatrous attitude by the congregation.

    A co worker who attends a local church had their longtime pastor retire several years back, when I asked her about the new pastor, the comment was something to the effect of "we tried as much as possible to get someone like Bro. So N So (retired pastor)."
     
  11. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Have the church place him in a pastor emeritus status giving him the ability to preach from time to time. The difficult issue here will be the size of the church. In churches that small they ususaly do not have nay seasoned leadership to lead in such a transition. They will need some outside help.
     
  12. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    IMHO - yes they do.
     
  13. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    ...so IYHO - would that outside help happen to be you?

    [never mind]

    "I gave them my business card."

    ...missed that...
     
    #13 kyredneck, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
  14. DHK

    DHK <b>Moderator</b>

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    Every situation is different. In some cases perhaps a younger pastor with the ability to work part time (a tent-maker) could share and/or take over the duties and the church see that the Sr. Pastor's needs are still taken care of until such time comes when the church grows enough that he doesn't have to work at all.
    Doesn't it come down to the question: Is it the responsibility of the local church to care for their retiring pastor?
     
  15. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    Just a willingness to preach. At this point I am not offering anything else. In fact, it was the pastor who asked me for my card!


    Doesn't it come down to the question: Is it the responsibility of the local church to care for their retiring pastor?[/QUOTE]
    Good question. I believe he has been there 7-10 years. The pastor before him died.
     
  16. padredurand

    padredurand Well-Known Member
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    Where is his Aaron and Hur?
     
  17. JamesL

    JamesL Well-Known Member
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    Amen. That was solid
     
  18. righteousdude2

    righteousdude2 Well-Known Member
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    We don't often agree, BUT ....

    This is a difficult time in the life of all pastors! Most of us know when to hang it up, while others would prefer to drop dead in the middle of a sermon on heaven!

    I have several pastor friends who went by way of your Pastor Emeritus" suggestion, and they love it and are fitting in well as they discover their new pathway regarding the ministry! That would have been my suggestion, and I would encourage all churches to work towards this with a stubborn, again pastor!

    As for me, I found a new life in the cyber ministry world and love writing books. Sure they're not New York Best-Seller List quality, but in my heart of hearts, they are doing amazingly well, and blessing people I may never have blessed had I remained the pastor of a medium-sized church!

    Of course, for me, I spent the last twenty years of my career in social services for the state government, and only pastored on weekends at small churches, as well as preaching and singing at churches and ministries each weekend too!

    Like you said, these are difficult times for not only the older pastor, but the loving congregation! Prayers to my brother who asked the question in the OP!
     
  19. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    When it came time for me to pass the mantle, due to my age, heart, and MS, I stood aside in favor of a young man who had worked with us for over 15 years.

    The congregation already knew him and he had worked with our deacons and other leadership for all of those 15 years.

    At first I simply stepped aside and allowed him to take a greater and greater part of the pastorate. After it was obvious to me, to the deacons, and to the congregation that he was the man for the job, we did a formal "passing of the mantle" service which marked his becoming the senior pastor and me being fully retired.

    The next week my wife and I moved to Texas. It was better for him and for the church to have me gone so the people would have to look to him for their pastoral counsel and leadership.

    After 26 years at the same church it was very difficult to sever those ties, but for the well being of the church family, and the pastoral staff, it was better that I not be there.

    Such decisions are always very hard to make. Especially when we have invested so much of our lives in that ministry. It is hard to let go. But we have to think of the well being of the church family, and put their well being ahead of our own emotional attachment to the people and ministry.

    Now we are in a great church in Texas where I have opportunity to teach an adult sunday school class on a "fill in" basis, and my wife and I will sing an occasional duet for special music. Last week it was "Joyful, Joyful." I may be old, and sick, but there are still things for me to do to keep my hand to the task God has called and gifted me to do. "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." :)
     
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