About Ron Ethridge

Ethridge Ron (1)Through Trials And Tribulations To Blessings (Acts 14:22-B)

Ron has been married since 1984 to Pam with three children, Amy, Trey, and Britton who are married to Austin, Hailey, and Missy. Ron graduated from Samford University with a B.S. in Accounting, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, and Beeson Divinity School with a Doctor of Ministry degree. He has served churches as pastor since 1989 in Mississippi and Alabama. As you survey his ministry journey you will find a unique mix of joy and difficulty which gives him an ability to identify and encourage ministers and others who struggle.

An old saying goes, “Don’t judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” I have probably walked in the shoes of most minister’s difficulties. Thus, by God’s providence and mercy, I can empathize with hurting ministers… which I hope lends credence to suggestions I make elsewhere to “comfort others with the comfort by which (I) have been comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3-7).

Here is a chronology of my ministry journey: NOTE: I have chosen to be honest in this presentation and not “Pad my resume” as that would be deceiving. If a minister isn’t honest about his ministry path, he hides a good portion of the grace God works in his life.

Antioch Baptist Church (Prentiss, MS. 1/1989-3/1990. Seminary Pastorate)

Preceding pastor was terminated. God grew the church from 20 to 70+. Giving was in the black for the first time in decades. Led association in baptisms. Called elsewhere after graduating seminary.

Central Alabama. 3/1990-7/1994

Preceding pastor was terminated. God grew the church from 100 to 225. Giving was in the black for the first time in 20 plus years. Called to pastor in another city.

East Central Alabama. 8/1994-7/2005

Preceding pastor was terminated (I noticed a pattern at this point). From 1953 to 1994, 5 of 7 pastors were forced to resign… not including support staff. A denominational worker mentioned the church was known in the state convention as “perpetually conflicted.”

God grew the church from 315 to 650. Giving was in the black for the first time in over 20 years, for 9 straight years. Built a $3.2mm building.

I was asked to consider resigning due to a power struggle in the leadership and conflict among staff. I also made mistakes that hindered my ability to minister (Nothing heretical, immoral, or unlawful). I was given sufficient time to find another place of ministry.

NOTE: At this point I made changes in ministry and leadership style because of the pattern I noticed of following terminated ministers and evaluating my own ministry style. I also decided if I ever served a church in significant conflict I would resign rather than contribute to God, Christ, Christianity, or the congregation suffering disrepute in the community (Jer 23:1; 1 Cor 6:7-B; Ro 2:24). My view is that The Church is the Bride of Christ and is to be treated with great love and be protected at all costs if possible.

Northwest Alabama. 8/2005-5/2008

Followed pastor of 27 years, 8 months after he retired. Church fired the pastor prior to him and split. God added 167 to the church in 23 months and giving was in the black for the first time in over 20 years.

Several deacons and staff objected to my “Philosophical direction” for the church. They would not elaborate. As best I could I worked toward restoration, and reconciliation, but my attempts were rejected by opinion leaders on deacon body. Over the course of months church unity deteriorated to the point I chose to resign. The pastor after me was terminated.

Northwest Alabama. {Interim}. 8/2008-1/2010

The Pastor, Worship Leader, and Youth Pastor were all pressured to resign 12 months prior to my arrival. My time as Interim Pastor was peaceful as God healed a hurting congregation and helped me through difficult days by His people’s love. By far this was my most enjoyable time in ministry.

Central Alabama. 10/2010-11/2012

Followed 4 ten-year pastors… the third of the four was forced to resign. This is where I was baptized as a child. Attendance had declined from 1,100 to 300 in the 20 years prior to my arrival (Due to a changed community). Giving had not met budget for 20 years. Average age of membership was 70+. Staff salaries were 73% of budget (Pastor, Administrator, Music, Senior Adults, Youth, Children, Two Secretaries, Two Janitors). 75% of the congregation drove in from outside the community to attend. Thus there was frustration and fear in the fellowship regarding their future when I arrived.

The Stewardship Team asked me to form teams and present a plan to address the situation. After a six month process, the congregation voted 81% to 19% (On recommendation from a team of Deacons) to partner with an ethnic congregation while looking for a place to relocate.

Some members and staff opposed what the church voted for causing significant disharmony to infiltrate the fellowship. Attempts were made for restoration and reconciliation (Mt 18:15-17 and Gal 6:1-2), which included outside denominational help at my request, all failed. The Personnel Team asked me to resign, in opposition to the Deacon leadership in November of 2012… which I chose to do (Jer 23:1). My resignation was for the purpose to speed healing in the fellowship because I served in three churches that fired the minister prior to me that left deep wounds and doubt in the community. I had many that wanted me to stay at the church and just as many that wanted me to start a new congregation, but those things would not have been best for the reputation of Christ… in my view… at the time.

Muscle Shoals, Alabama 2013 to Present

God willing, I am building Redemption Ministries to help, comfort, and encourage wounded ministers to make the best use of my experiences for God’s glory. I have had the honor of encouraging many ministers as they walk through difficult situations in their ministry positions. I have also been interim pastor in central Alabama and preached for other congregations as they navigated through difficult times. I have a weekly radio program on 106.3 FM (WBTG) titled “Dancing In The Dungeon.” I also wrote a book titled “Dancing In The Dungeon: Suffering With Hopeful Joy For God’s Glory.”

Time and space prohibits me from relating all the stories behind events. Not included in the narrative were deep emotional wounds expected in the world, but not the church… from Christians… which included: Betrayal, abandonment, slander, misrepresentation, malicious attacks, political manipulations, and lies about my wife and children.

To be fair, in every congregation I served, there were encouragers and Christian friends who were blessings during days of adversity. I thank God for every one of them.

Now please read conclusions I’ve settled on from these experiences. They are separated into reflections for pastors & ministers and congregations. I pray you will experience God’s comfort.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. First RM Blog Post | Redemption Ministries - August 14, 2013

    […] other than I anticipated when I was much younger and began serving congregations as their pastor. During my ministry career (Scroll down for the highs and lows of serving Christ) I have experienced great joys and profound […]