Reformational Delusions?

Two pastors at the church I attended up until a few months ago were just fired (”asked to resign”) for no reason other than the Senior Pastor “felt God leading the church in a different direction.” He did not consult the Board of Elders, the general congregation, or the other pastors before making this decision.

One of the two pastors has been there more than 15 years; the other, 11 years tenure (with three children under the age of 7).

This church of 2,000+ congregants has seemed unhealthy, unstable, and disconcerting for a few years now. In fact, I could not go to a service without hearing grumblings of disatisfaction or even disgust with the leadership. Clearly, all was not well.

For all my ranting and raving about the state of the Church in America, I’m a people-pleaser at heart. I don’t like disagreements and I don’t like telling anyone what they don’t want to hear. But with the dismissal of two healthy, prolific pastors who were loved in their vibrant ministries I couldn’t keep silent. “God taking the church in a different direction” wasn’t enough explanation for me.

I’m open to pushback here: I don’t know that my actions were the “right” ones to take, but I felt that inaction would be a greater sin…

I e-mailed the 9 pastors and 2 staff members, warning them that I believed “one man was dictating the mind and will of God without quantifiable accountability to an empowered, balanced board of elders, much less directly to the larger body of congregants who are intimately and spiritually affected by his whims or mandates.”

I said, “I think the Body of Christ can do better than this.”

The responses from several of the [remaining] pastors ranged from vehement disagreement with me (the Senior Pastor carefully pasted in the CC line so he could see their defense) to a sort of dejected, “I respect your opinion - you should sit down with Pastor and talk it out.” The Senior Pastor himself said I was sowing seeds of dissention and division. Another pastor said I was being immature.

And that “immature” comment is the one I resent most, because it seems to imply that any disagreement with the church heirarchy would be due to a lack of maturity or wisdom. In fact, three of the pastors used their Senior Pastor’s 22-year tenure at this church as “proof” that he was annointed by God. Is church tenure always because of spiritual truth and faithfulness?

I don’t know. Maybe I am being immature. I could probably admit, in part, to an attempt to “sow seeds of dissention.” I want to start a revolution here!

I talked with Leonard Sweet today, and he reminded me:
Every “leader” needs a Nathan. But the “speaking the truth in love” is a perilous spiritual enterprise… often Nathans have to take Jesus’ Sacrament of Failure - to shake the dust off of one’s feet and go to the next house.

But that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Could I have handled this better?

read more about my thoughts on Christianity in the real world at


Brent said...

I have been equally upset at this decision. But I have seen something past this First Assemblies. I believe this decision will push those who have been stagnated at this church out into other churches in town where they will want to be involved. This decision is not good for First but and the pastor will probally be dissapointed with what happens in his own congregation. But God has blinded this pastor to the 2 pastors incredible usefulness to increase His flock as a whole and not just at First.

HCJoel said...

Nice work, dude. The only alternate approach would be to meet face-to-face with these alleged leaders. People like to talk shit through e-mail or on the phone because it's less personal or completely faceless. I experience that all the time in my job. Sounds like you were on the right track and didn't let yourself get caught up in name-calling or slander. Bravo.

I found the comment about the pastor's long tenure to be hilarious. I have witnessed multiple career pastors who demonstrated Sunday after Sunday that they had no business being in the pulpit.

Sometimes, all you can do is address people directly and make efforts to hold people accountable. The Holy Spirit will work as He will. He just needs us to be faithful and speak when He prompts us to do so. We are not responsible to bring about conviction or repentance. Keep up the good work.

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