By virtue of the ministry I have… to wounded ministers and churches… I’ve counseled and encouraged those who are wounded, staff who are dealing with difficulties, and church leaders trying to navigate through unexpected stress. Sometimes when a minister church relationship is ended the minister is at fault. Other times a small group in the church manipulates God’s people to push the minister out. And every now and then it is what I call “The Perfect Storm.” This is when no one thing brings things to a head, but the culmination of several things that make a parting of ways the best thing in a fallen world.
When a minister is asked to leave a church, there will be consequences that will linger for months and sometimes years. I served one church that fired five of seven Pastors prior to me. A state worker told me about this congregation that they were seen in the state as a “Perpetually Conflicted Congregation.” I served there 11 years, the second longest in it’s 167 year history… and was thankful when I went to another congregation.
But what is a church to do when the minister congregation relationship is hindered and/or dysfunctional? I have a few suggestions (From observation and experience):
First, be very careful, wise, prayerful, and discerning with what is done. Regardless of the situation or events grace, mercy, kindness, and compassion must drive all conduct and decisions. The Golden Rule is a good place to start as well as keeping in mind that harsh conduct will be judged by God one day.
My experience has been that the community watches church conduct closely in difficulty. The last thing a congregation wants is what Paul wrote in Romans 2:24, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Second, work HARD at reconciliation so as to heal whatever wounds have taken place. There will be need for confession, repentance, and forgiveness on several levels. Gal 6:1, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Last, if the only option is for the minister congregation to end BE gracious, merciful, loving, kind, and compassionate. After all, the minister is a brother or sister in Christ. Be generous in providing financially for them. Be patient as the minister and their family are going through a difficult time.
If there is going to be error… err on the side of grace for God’s glory.
Monday will be a post for the minister in difficulty…