Monday, November 23, 2009

Chewing, then spitting out a pastor.

OK ... a bit of venting time.

I'm eclectic in my blog reading. I like to read blogs of all types, and have an affinity for blogs of those who are female pastors, as I have a few close female friends who are or were in seminary. In all cases, I wish those who write their blogs well, and pray for their ministry.

Well, this past Sunday, someone who I follow on a semi-regular basis was fired by the Congregation she currently serves. The timing is impeccable, just before Christmas, but it sounds like the Session of this church is composed of a bunch of CEO's more used to giving orders, than doing anything themselves, or thinking about the consequences of their actions.

I quote:
What really happened is that the chair of personnel told the congregation that I was incorrigible, disobedient, and did not toe the line according to what his committee told me to do. He outlined his program of requirements designed to "tally, compute, and account for my effectiveness as a CEO." He related that I had failed all of the required activities as measured by 1) an increase in members and 2) an increase in offerings.

Of course, all this because the Pastor was trying to bring the Session along into a model of shared ministry. Does this Session think that mega-churches grow only because of the pastor's efforts? Its obvious no-one there did any research on how Rick Warren's Saddleback Church operates.

Again I quote:
I outright refused to encourage the leadership of our congregation to become emotional and spiritual cripples, which was what I was ordered to do. I was told repeatedly over the last eleven months that the session had no interest in participating in ministry, since that was what I was paid to do.

Someone commented on the post that the 'congregation was rooted in the 50's'. Thinking about that, I understand it to mean that at that time, it was the church staff who did all the work, because the church at that time had enough members and contributions to pay someone to do it.

Those days are over, if they ever existed. Today churches grow only through the shared ministry of the Pastor (or pastors) and the leaders and membership of the church. It is a fact that most people visit a church not due to a great website; although having one that is easy to navigate is a good thing, or the big sign out front, but by a personal invitation to come to worship.

If the congregation and their elected and ordained officers do not take ownership of their own growth, then the Presbytery will take ownership of the empty building in about 15 years.

..... and so it goes !


  1. Calvin tells us that we ALL have a vocation to the Christian life, joining in His work in the world (i.e., Ministry). The Priesthood of all believers and all that stuff. This isn't about a business model, but about failed discipleship and a complete lack of understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

    (word verification: rolestr -- I guess I care about the roles in our churches :) )

  2. I follow this blogger, too, and I've been as appalled as you are about this situation. I can't imagine the COM in our presbytery permitting what went on here.

    I do think the analogy to the '50's is not correct, though. In the 50's most of the work of the church was done by the stay at home mothers of the congregation and the older women, not by staffs.

  3. Having served on and chaired a Committee on Ministry I am left scratching my head over this one. I know this is just one side of the story, and I know from experience there is another side too, but some of those comments seem detrimental to the peace, unity and purity of the church. This is not to deny there may be problems but to chew up and spit out a pastor in this way sure seems to set up the next one for failure, or at least an uphill climb, as well. I hope they get a good interim.

  4. I think you know that I follow this blogger too. Like QG, I've been appalled and apoplectic that the COM & Presbytery would permit this to happen like it did. I can't imagine that happening like that in the Presbytery where I labor.

    Dave & I worshipped at one of the PC(USA) churches in Salt Lake City last Pentecost. It's a beautiful, neo-gothic sanctuary. We know the pastor there. In his sermon that day, he spoke of an Antiques Store in Arkansas (I think). The clincher was that this building used to be a church. His message was essentially that if we don't get about the Great Commission then that beautiful church is going to be nothing more than an antique store in the future. I think if we all don't get to reaching out, then Presbyteries all over will be taking possession of empty buildings and future antique stores.

  5. There are a few of those empty churches here in Plodding Presbytery.

    Of course, some of them are due to the fact that every other street corner had a Presbyterian church prior to the mergers of the 20th century !

    That said, there are many declining churches here, full of members who don't see the declining membership, and will not change their current ways of doing church because if they did those other people may come in !!


I'm not one to moderate comments, as I try to moderate my own at other blogs. That said, I will remove offensive, defaming and otherwise inappropriate comments when needed.