Pastor Fired by Church

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Re-posted from 2011: Charles Stone introduces his book, ‘Five Ministry Killers and How to Kill Them‘ with a story of how a Church fired their Pastor. As I started the first paragraph, I thought it was a fictional parable used to kick off the main topic of the book.

I read a little further and started to feel a little awkward. Some of the issues were a little too close to home for me. Then, the surprise (for me anyway!). The pastor is a real person and Stone is talking about real struggles that defeat many men and women who are in Christian Ministry.

The pastor in question, faced difficulties with power struggles, salary controversies and questions about his leadership style. His visitation policy was considered questionable and he was accused of “not loving the people.” Why? Because he made a decision to concentrate on his strengths and gifts in preaching and teaching instead of following a routine visiting program.

After some time, one particular man lead a bullying campaign that would eventually see the pastor fired from his job. The pastor made a decision to introduce changes in the Church policy about the expectations of the character of those that wanted to become Church members. He was called to question for this stance. He was threatened with losing his job. He stood his ground and they fired him.

Stone closes off this account of the pastor, “Jonathan”, as follows:

Ten years later, because Jonathan had so graciously responded to his critics and his dismissal, one of his main detractors admitted that pride, self-sufficiency, ambition, and vanity had caused the contention. The pastor’s handling of his ministry crisis left such and impression that eventually the church publicly repented of their actions, exactly 150 years after they sent him packing.

Who was Jonathan? Jonathan Edwards, arguably America’s greatest theologian.

Dear Pastor friend, if it happened to Edwards, chances are you will face similar challenges. Are you ready to meet them with a godly, gospel oriented approach?

Dear Church Member friend, if you have a Pastor that has different ideas about leadership style and ministry emphasis are you able to model gospel oriented flexibility and serve alongside him for God’s glory?

Related Articles:

Ed Stetzer – Church Leadership Book Interview: Charles Stone on 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them

Check out this recent post by Don – a supplement to the comment he made on the original post from 2011.
Firing Your Pastor

Cannibals or Worms

One of my favourite missionaries is John Paton. When Paton wanted to be a missionary to New Hebrides, one of the men in his home Church famously criticised his desire saying, “You will be eaten by cannibals!” In reply John said:

Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.

John Piper has an excellent summary of the biography of John Paton.

The practice of the cross

by Michael Mckinley

We are called to be like Christ. How so?  We’re not Jewish itinerant preachers.  We’re not saviors of the world. But when the Bible talks about our similarity to Jesus, it talks about us taking up the cross like he did.

Ways we practice the cross

  • Sacrifice
  • Submissions
  • Self-denial
  • Service

The cross informs the way we live. Not “WWJD” but “WITWOTCITS”  (What is the way of the cross in this situation?).

  • Selflessness — Philippians 2
  • Perseverance in suffering — I Peter 4
  • Generosity — II Cor 8, I John 3
  • Patience with other believers —  Romans 1
  • Humble leadership — Mark 10

In a sense, every small act of service is a preparation for martyrdom in that it’s a dying to self.  Many of us would die for Christ but won’t clean up after other Christians joyfully.

Good theology leads to humility and worship

It’s rather sad that these two terms are not thought of today as complimentary. Instead, there’s a tendency of some theologians to speak down to others, boasting about their study and knowledge. Those of us who aren’t Theologians, in the technical sense, can also be a bit arrogant when we dismiss anything that sounds theologically complex as irrelevant. After all we aren’t religious geeks, why do we need to know anything about all those big words that end in “shun” (propitiation, expiation, redemption, justification etc)?!

In his book, Humility, True Greatness C.J. Mahaney, suggests that reading and studying theology is one practical means to cultivate humility. In particular he recommends focusing on God’s incommunicable attributes (there’s some more big words). He quotes from R. C. Sproul on the self-sufficiency of God:

The grand difference between and human being and a supreme being is precisely this: Apart from God, I cannot exist. Apart from me, God does exist. God does not need me in order for Him to be; I do need God in order for me to be. This is the difference between what we call self-existent being and dependent being. We are dependent. We are fragile. We cannot live without air, without water, without food. No human being has the power of being within himself. Life is lived between two hospitals. We need a support system from birth to death to sustain life. We are like flowers that bloom and then wither and fade. This is how we differ from God. God does not wither, God does not fade, God is not fragile. (pp. 88-89)

Good theology won’t give you a big head – if anything, it will make your head feel very small and empty. Good theology leads to humility and worship.

Some good books to help you think about theology.