Another Sad Church Story

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This story is not over yet, but I figure I better check in before people start wondering what’s happening with me. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have read about my pastor and church. It’s a long story, and one I hope to tell one day, but for now, I am grieving another difficult church experience. It has wiped me out physically – probably because of all the emotions. I feel betrayed, deceived, sad, angry, confused, and who knows what else!

In this case, it is my pastor and his family who has been harmed, and in the process, many people from church also have been hurt because of how it was handled. My pastor was forced to resign from his position. He’s been in full-time ministry for 25 years and senior pastor for over 15 years.

Our elders did not communicate well with the congregation about this, and many of us were led to believe he would be back in the pulpit. I spoke with different elders each week asking tough questions. I don’t think that restoration to his pastoral position was ever part of their plan, sadly.

I’m still kind of stunned. The Sunday before last, our pastor gave his resignation. Last Sunday, the elders had an informational meeting where they shared a timeline of events and had a time for questioning. Our pastor never had an opportunity to share his side. In fact, we’ve hardly heard anything from him that didn’t include words that the elders wanted inserted. I have a problem with this. A big-time problem.

And now the question is: what next? Ugh!

 

34 comments on “Another Sad Church Story

  1. Did the elders allow any questions that were not submitted in advance or did they continue to control the conversation? How frustrating that all of you still have not heard the whole story. Trust has been broken and is most likely beyond mending.

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  2. Words seem so inadequate when this kind of crap just keeps repeating itself in christian organisations, but I am so incredibly sorry that you are in the midst of another really horrible church experience 😥

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, they did allow other questions. I had a few words, but they were completely dismissed by the moderator who claimed to be unbiased. Claimed was the key word in that sentence.

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  4. Well I can certainly relate to you when this kind of church chicanery goes on. Church ought to be the last place on earth for this to happen, but of course it does. Church politics. Awful, and discouraging. Maybe some kind of cold comfort that the early church had it share of problems as well. Immorality in Corinth that was even worse than the debauched pagans around them.

    Is there no disinterested third party, a bit like a baptist superintendent or an Anglican bishop, who can be appealed to in these circumstances?

    I have briefly prayed for you that you may have wisdom in knowing what to do and how to act in this kind of situation. (James 1 : 5 is one of my favourite verses!)

    One last thing, and I hope you won’t misunderstand this. Assuming the church knows you run a fairly widely-read blog, do think it would be a good idea to ensure all know that the internal goings on in the church will not end up on the internet? I’m not implying you would betray confidences, but this might make a situation where there is already a lack of communication worse if the eldership fear this is a possibility.

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  5. I’m so sorry, Julie Anne. I know this sort of this is hard.

    Thinking back, I have seen assistant pastors pushed out twice, once for porn and once because they were getting too popular. So good reasons and bad. I can’t recall an occasion where the senior pastor left. I hope you find good information for making decisions on your church going forward.

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  6. KAS: “Is there no disinterested third party, a bit like a baptist superintendent or an Anglican bishop, who can be appealed to in these circumstances?”

    Our pastor brought someone in to assist in the process. While he seemed to be impartial at first (according to reports), at the informational meeting in which he was supposed to be unbiased – and he said he was unbiased – he clearly was not. It made me sick.

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  7. KAS: “One last thing, and I hope you won’t misunderstand this. Assuming the church knows you run a fairly widely-read blog, do think it would be a good idea to ensure all know that the internal goings on in the church will not end up on the internet? I’m not implying you would betray confidences, but this might make a situation where there is already a lack of communication worse if the eldership fear this is a possibility.”

    I’m not worried about anything I say. Everything I have said publicly, I have received permission to share or has been my personal opinion or observations.

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  8. I am truly sorry for your loss Julie Anne. Our family has grieved the same loss of our pastor this year. He was not only our pastor but our sons’ best friend. Other controlling people were involved behind the scenes for many months leading up to his resignation. Our family openly wept when he made the announcement. I understand your living in the “what next” stage. I will be praying that God gives you a peace that passes all understanding and that he holds you close as The Shepherd until HE reveals the next steps for you and your body of believers.

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  9. Julie Anne, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing with us. Even if you had been slightly aware of this coming, you still have been blindsided. It’s one more experience of power play, lies, manipulation.

    Very sad for your pastor and his family.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think the church is awful at dealing with these sorts of situations. I think the primary driver is a lack of patience. Once they’ve identified the “Achan” there seems to be a one-month timer to resolution before the big guns come out.

    If this pastor is truly unqualified, I think there should be significant effort to work through that, and people in the congregation should be aware what is happening and why. The pastor isn’t God and pastors have issues just like the rest of us, so if a pastor is struggling with, let’s say, addiction, why can’t the congregation come alongside and help. The best split would be one where the pastor and the leaders get up and say, we all understand why this can’t work and here’s what we’re doing.

    There’s too much hidden, behind-closed-door politics and negotiation, and usually there is a plea bargain which is “we won’t bring this out in public if you resign”. This is anti-Biblical, where the goal of Christian community is to support each other in challenging and removing sin, and if someone is a danger to the community, then all should know the danger before the person is removed.

    My counterpoint to KAS is that our political leaders rightly expect video cameras and public broadcast of all their meetings. If our church leaders are more godly and more righteous, then what reason would they have to be afraid of public scrutiny? If, on the other hand, the way the church deals with sin is prejudiced, biased, political and unjust, then, of course, they would never want what happened behind closed doors to come out.

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  11. Hang in there. Knowing a touch about you, gracious hostess, I’m guessing that it was not a moral failing on his part, but rather something else dressed up as if it meant he were “unable to teach”.

    I’m thinking this is a byproduct of our modern notion of having one “big man” running the show in churches. If eldership/leadership is shared, then one man getting older, or one man not bringing in the numbers or some such thing, does not matter as much. However, if it all falls on one man, then the business types on the deacon/elder board are going to treat him like a (generally decidedly underpaid) chief executive of a business.

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  12. What you described is so sad and truly appalling but, unfortunately, probably not as rare as we would like to believe. Something is seriously wrong when we see such a heavily stacked attack. What you describe is inconsistent with a well-reasoned revelation of truth but reflects a deliberate demonizing of an innocent man for political or personal reasons. The truth will be revealed in God’s time, whether in this life or the next! And I pray that your pastor finds support from those who know him and others who have experienced similar injustices. May he not lose heart but finds strength and conviction to press on in the light of truth…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Yes, Carmen, it was very enlightening. I learned a lot about them. I’m still learning about them. I’m not done. As far as getting real information about what was going on – no. I didn’t get a thing.

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  14. Mark, I appreciate your comment. I have learned a lot in this process. I have a great compassion and now understanding what pastors and their families go through in a case like this. On Twitter, I learned from many pastors that coercing pastors out of their position is not uncommon. And it is devestating.

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  15. BB, there was no moral failure here. I will go into what happened at some time because I think this is a situation that probably many pastors have faced. I think this sad story is very relevant and should be discussed.

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  16. BB – “are going to treat him like a (generally decidedly underpaid) chief executive of a business.”

    I was on a non-profit board once and we all got copies of a non-profit board manual, and unfortunately, that is EXACTLY how it works. I was quite upset, to say the least with how we as board members were told that we were hands-off. We were not allowed to have any “non-official” contact with anyone in the organization other than the CEO, and was to direct them up their food chain to resolve conflict. I was only to use the board-approved evaluation documents to judge the performance of the CEO, and so on and so forth.

    So, when you’re in that mentality, when things aren’t working in the organization, the only recourse is to fire the CEO. Of course, the board wouldn’t do that because the only people allowed on the board, for the most part, were cheerleaders who were afraid of holding people accountable. The reaction I got when I brought up some tough organizational issues told me that I didn’t belong.

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  17. JA, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse might be worth another look. The main flow is about leadership abuse of congregants, but there is a sub-theme about how pastors can be abused as well by manipulative leaders.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “…at the informational meeting in which he was supposed to be unbiased – and he said he was unbiased – he clearly was not. It made me sick.”

    That’s what happened to me, too. It became clear (too late) that the “impartial” board members who were asked to help mediate during one of our church’s leadership crises were highly partisan and didn’t care how their favoured candidate had behaved – they’d already decided he was “God’s anointed”. Made me sick, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Yes, he had a host of legitimate issues that were problematic, such as creating a difficult work environment, not a good administrator, missed appointments, fractured relationships, depression, etc. But the way in which this was handled was very wrong and caused so much damage – damage that some may not be able to get over.

    I’m still sorting out things.

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