There are a few situations where termination of a minister is the right thing to do (Click here). They are… 1. Heresy, 2. Immorality (Adultery, etc), 3. Egregious law breaking (Stealing, etc). Some would say that ethical improprieties are grounds for termination (Stealing sermons from the internet). Then there are “lesser” reasons for breaking the relationship between minister and congregation such as the inability to lead.
In my little world the pastor (Note I didn’t write “minister”) is to first be judged in relation to fulfilling his call to preach The word and disciple the church. He may not be able to do the others as well as some would like, but his PRIMARY call is to preach and teach the Gospel. If he is capable of doing those things well, everything else is secondary. At the same time, if he is adept at leadership… visiting… etc, but cannot preach and teach, he is not qualified to serve as pastor.
But for sake of argument, lets say the relationship between minister and congregation is not working… it just doesn’t jive… the two just don’t fit. What do you do then? At this point I have a few suggestions…
- Pray FOR the minister, don’t prey ON him (Get it?). The God who answers prayer is powerful. HE can change the heart of the minister AND/OR the congregation! If people would pray for rather than prey on ministers, who knows what might happen!
- Be determined to help the minister succeed. It is odd to me how many congregants are willing to quickly criticize the minister but are unwilling to participate in helping him… and the church… succeeded! As I once read… to criticize without offering a solution is calling whining. And… If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Well said. Be a helper, a healer, not a destroyer.
- If the situation cannot come to a win/win conclusion… the congregation should be merciful, gracious, and loving regardless of the minister’s conduct, words, or attitude. Here the Golden Rule applies. Be generous if a severance package is needed. Be merciful if time is required for him to find a place of ministry. Be gracious when the minister is spoken of in the community. Remember: We will all give an account for our actions before God one day…
- The minister must (!) be merciful, gracious, and loving in his conduct when a congregation does not follow what is mentioned in point #3. He is to… Turn the other cheek, forgive, do good to all, and love everyone… regardless of the situation or circumstance.
Why do things like this? Because the world is watching! Because God is watching!