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I have a friend who is fond of saying, “Getting fired is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

In the long run, his sentiment may very well be true … but it sure doesn’t feel that way at the time.

When I was pushed out of my position as senior pastor of an impactful church, I could not see what God was doing.

Six years later, I have a much better … and broader … perspective.

If you are struggling with why God allowed you to undergo the horror of a forced termination … or if you know someone who has endured this experience … maybe the following words can provide some insight and comfort.

Why does God allow pastors to be terminated?

First, the pastor has done something that disqualifies him from church ministry.

Many years ago, I heard about the moral downfall of a nationally known preacher.

This man had been called to lead a megachurch where some family and friends of mine had once attended.

When the news broke, I channel surfed until I found a well-known entertainment program.  One of the show’s reporters interviewed that pastor outside his home.  The pastor told the reporter, “Because of what I did, I have no business being a pastor.”

The host of the program commented, “The minister’s attitude is refreshing.”

I have a friend who served on that church’s staff at the time, and he told me that surveillance cameras confirmed that inappropriate behavior on the pastor’s part had taken place.

Being human, pastors occasionally engage in moral failure.  When they’re caught, they usually repent and resign.

But sometimes pastors are successful at dodging congregational surveillance … but they can never escape the watchful eye of Almighty God.

A pastor can be guilty of sexual immorality … plagiarism … alcoholism … criminal behavior … drug addiction … lying and manipulation … or any number of other offenses against God and His people.

And if a pastor’s spiritual and moral integrity are compromised by his actions … especially if he’s unrepentant … then the best thing for everyone involved is for the pastor to leave … and hopefully, repent and receive God’s forgiveness for his actions.

While pastors do disqualify themselves by engaging in misconduct, this is only true of 7% of all terminated pastors.

Just as Peter denied Jesus three times but was restored to ministry, I believe that God can restore and use a once-disqualified pastor again.

Second, the pastor was leading a spiritually hollow congregation.

No matter how devoted a pastor is to Jesus … or how hard he works … or how much influence he has … some churches are never going to grow or have much impact in their community.

In fact, some churches are filled with professing Christians who have rarely if ever grown spiritually.

Unfortunately, I’ve met my share of these people.

For example, the first church I pastored … in Silicon Valley … never should have gotten off the ground.

The congregation began with 38 members … all refugees from other churches.  They had one thing in common: they wanted to attend a church where they could control the decision making.

The church was financially subsidized by a denomination.  The basic rule-of-thumb is that a church needs to become self-supporting after three years.  If not, those outside funds are usually cut off.

When I arrived, the church had been in existence for five years … all five subsidized by the denomination.

Looking back, there was little spiritual vitality in that church.  The leaders were full of bitterness and legalism.

Two years after my arrival, a sister church invited us to merge with them, and my first church passed out of existence.

That church never should have been started … never should have been subsidized … and was never going to last very long.  In fact, they probably hurt more people than they helped.

I wasn’t terminated from that church … I ended up pastoring the merged church instead … but I can only imagine what it’s like to pastor a spiritually empty church for years.

It’s probably better that the pastor goes first than that he goes down with the ship.

Third, the pastor was delivered before things became much worse.

When I counsel pastors who are under attack … or who have undergone a forced exit … I often quote 2 Peter 2:9 to them.

Speaking of Lot, Peter says, “… the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials …”  Another version states, “… the Lord knows how to deliver the righteous …”

Sometimes when a pastor initially comes to a church, the wind is at his back.

But by the time he leaves, the wind is blowing directly into his face.

When I first came to my last church, I felt the wind at my back.  It seems like every idea I had … every sermon I preached … every ministry I started … had an impact.

But by the time I left, almost none of my ideas had been adopted for months … many of my sermons were falling flat … and the one ministry I wanted to start was soundly rejected.

The wind was blowing in my face … hard … and I could feel it.

Was I the problem?  Possibly.  But to be honest, I didn’t know how to work with some of the church’s newer leaders.  I was oriented toward outreach, while they were oriented toward survival and maintenance.

Looking back, it was inevitable that we would clash.

Had I stayed even another year, I believe my soul might have been severely damaged.  God in His mercy knew exactly when to remove me.

Did I like the way God chose to do it?  No.  But I wholeheartedly agree with His timing.

Months after I left, someone told me that if I visited the church again, I would no longer recognize it.  A friend visited and told me, “The spirit has gone from this place.”

I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it.

Fourth, the pastor has been given a more suitable assignment by God.

I don’t like to demean my former calling, but pastors are a dime a dozen.  There are thousands of pastors all over America … and thousands more who wish they could be pastors.

A pastor may be special to his congregation … and maybe his community … but in the Christian world, pastors aren’t treated with much respect or dignity simply because there are so many of them.

I believe there are times when God surveys all those pastors and says, “I have some assignments that I need to have fulfilled in the days ahead, so I choose you … you … and you to carry them out.  But first, I need to remove you from your present position.”

If God didn’t remove us … and use some pretty forceful means at His disposal … we’d hold onto our pastorates for dear life.

I have met scores of former pastors doing significant kingdom work.

One man was forced out of three churches … and now he does conflict mediation for churches.

Another man was forced out of two churches … and he now trains Christian leaders for short-term assignments all over the world.

Pastors who were once forced out of their churches now lead missionary agencies … serve as hospital chaplains … plant churches … engage in hospice ministry … serve as church planters … do interim pastorates … and even have writing ministries.

And yes, I know pastors who were once pushed out of their churches who have healed enough to become pastors once again.

For my colleagues who have been forced out of a church … maybe God wants you to look forward toward a new assignment rather than ruminating about the injustices of your previous assignment.

But expect for that process to take you some time.

Fifth, the pastor was pushed out because he was burned out.

Back in the mid-1980s, I did a lot of reading about the symptoms and effects of being stressed out and burned out in church ministry.

I especially devoured the book by Dr. Archibald Hart titled Coping with Depression in the Ministry and Other Helping Professions.

Over the years, I thought I was suffering from burnout on several occasions.  I visited a Christian counselor friend who assured me that I was not experiencing burnout.

But six years ago this summer, I visited a counselor who told me that I was experiencing a severe case of burnout, and that I was primed for a breakdown.

When I asked my wife, “How did burnout creep up on me?”, she said, “Jim, look what you’ve done the past few years here at the church.  You oversaw the construction of a building and you completed your Doctor of Ministry program.”

Just last week, I remembered two statistics that I had long forgotten.

First, I remember hearing that 70% of all pastors leave their churches within one year of completing a building program.

Our entire building program lasted at least four years, and I stayed four years after that.

By contrast, I know a pastor who told me that he left two churches that were in the middle of building programs.

Second, a professor from my seminary told me that 50% of all Doctor of Ministry graduates end up leaving the pastorate so they can pursue other ministry avenues.

I lasted two years after receiving my degree.

I think most pastors do what I did: they minimize all the energy they’re expending when they’re carrying out a task, but it eventually catches up with them.

My last few months as a pastor, I wasn’t myself.  I became detached … irritable … empty … and sad.  In fact, I was near tears almost every day.

I wish someone who knew me had intervened and said, “Hey, Jim, you don’t seem like yourself right now.  Is everything okay?  We love you and want you to be your best.”

For whatever reason, no one did that … until the counselor gave me his diagnosis.

I believe that burned out pastors probably need to leave their ministries so they can recover.  Their churches need more energy from them than they can muster.

But pastors become burned out because they work too hard and care too much, and it seems criminal to me to kick out a pastor in a mean-spirited way because he did his job too well.

So sometimes Jesus says to His weary servants, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

And He kindly calls His burned out pastors away from church ministry.

Finally, the pastor’s ministry in that church is over.

Several years ago, I visited a large church and was invited to sit next to the chairman of the board during the service.

Over the previous few years, the church had lost half its attendees.

The music was horrible (the full-time worship director led three songs by himself, without a band), the service was disorganized, and everything seemed irrelevant.

When I told the chairman that the pastor seemed to be preaching well, he said, “His last few sermons have been better because he’s retiring in several weeks.”

That pastor led that church for more than 30 years … but his ministry had ended long before he retired.

I wish that every pastor was given the ability to choose when his ministry in a particular church was finished.

The problem is … the pastor is often the last one to know.

And so God in His sovereignty sometimes says to a pastor, “You’re not going to leave here, are you?  You’re so very committed … and I appreciate that more than you could know.  But I can see the way ahead, and you’re not the pastor this church needs anymore.  You’ve done all that I asked you to do … so I’m going to remove you from office … and it’s going to sting.”

And it does sting … for a long time.

I served the Lord in church ministry for 36 years.  I hoped that I would get to retire on my own terms around age 65, but the truth is that God declared my ministry over nearly ten years before I would have stopped.

But I’m glad He did … because right now, I am far happier and fulfilled than I was as a pastor … and I’m still involved in significant ministry.

Jesus trained at least 18 years for a ministry that lasted only three.  In the end, even the Son of God didn’t get to choose when His ministry was over … the Father did … and the Son cried out from the cross, “It is finished.”

I wonder why God doesn’t intervene and stop innocent pastors from being terminated.

In fact, I’ve devoted my life to doing all I can to help pastors and boards part ways (when necessary) in a truthful, loving, and constructive way.

But regardless of how a pastor is let go … even when it’s done cruelly … every pastor can repeat what Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good …”

Let me share a little secret as to why pastors sometimes choose not to resolve every conflict they might have with someone in a congregation.

Pastors have a limited amount of energy.  They expend much of that energy – I’d guess a minimum of 50% – on the preparation and delivery of their weekly sermon … and that sermon is the most important thing they do all week.

Pastors also engage in staff management … board consultations … individual counseling … hospital visitation … special projects … social functions … conflict intervention … and an endless number of additional tasks.

And when pastors perform these tasks, they need to be at their best.  One careless word on his part … one misinterpreted action … and his imperfections will be spread all over the church.

Whenever a pastor has to deal with someone who is angry/hurt/offended, that encounter robs him of precious energy for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.  Such encounters can deplete his energy and paralyze him emotionally, affecting the pastor’s ability to lead … pastor … and even preach.

Many years ago, I served on the staff of a church where the pastor was under assault.  Being a sensitive man – as most pastors are – the criticisms devastated him.

He called me on the phone and told me that he was so distraught that he couldn’t focus clearly enough to study for his sermon … which was only three days away.

But pastors can’t allow themselves to come to church on Sundays with depleted energy.  They have to be at their best, not just to please the Lord, but to inspire, encourage, and equip their congregations.

This little discussion leads me to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23-24:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Let me make five observations about this verse as it relates to pastors:

First, Jesus does not include or exclude spiritual leaders from His instructions. 

Since the Lord wants His leaders to model submission and obedience in a local fellowship, I believe that these verses apply to pastors as well as regular churchgoers.  Pastors are “brothers” … and pastors sometimes offend their “brothers,” too.

Second, Jesus envisions a situation where one of His followers is estranged from another follower.

The term “brother” implies a spiritual relationship … maybe even a close one.  Jesus is talking here about interpersonal relationships inside the family of God.  He is not talking about relationships with just anybody.

Maybe your brother (or sister) is so upset with you that they are ignoring you … avoiding you … talking negatively to others about you … or lambasting you to your face.

Whether they’re justified or not, “your brother” (or sister) is angry with you about something.  There is a break in the relationship … and at least one of you knows it.

Third, Jesus implies that the offender knows what he or she did wrong.

Jesus says that while you’re in the very act of worship, you suddenly “remember that your brother has something against you.”

Do you know precisely why your brother is angry with you?  My guess is that you do.

It’s something you did … or said … or something you didn’t do … or didn’t say.

However, when it comes to pastors, people are often angry with them without the pastor knowing why … and this is because most people are scared to death to confront their pastor about anything.

If a pastor discovers that someone in his church is upset with him, must a pastor drop everything, contact that person, and try to make things right?

Some would say yes.  In fact, I have a book written by a former megachurch pastor who shares story after story about times that he sensed someone in the church was angry with him.  In every instance, he went to them … he is a very sensitive man … and said, “Brother, I don’t know what I did to offend you, but I want to tell you I’m sorry and ask you to forgive me.”

This is where I part company with the broad interpretation of this passage.

If I’m a pastor, and I definitely know why someone is angry with me … and it’s negatively impacting our relationship … I believe that I have a biblical obligation to take the initiative, contact that person, and see if we can work things out.

But if someone is angry with me and I have no idea why, I don’t believe that I have an obligation to contact them.  Instead, I believe that they have an obligation to contact me according to Matthew 18:15-17.

In other words, pastors need to take the initiative for specific, known offenses against their spiritual family members … but wait for others to take the initiative for general, unknown offenses.

Because of the nature of their calling, pastors lack the time and energy to “turn over too many rocks” in their congregations.  For if they do, they will undoubtedly encounter venomous snakes and scorpions … and they’ll spend all their time tangling with them rather than watching the entire flock.

Fourth, Jesus emphasizes the importance of resolving interpersonal conflicts quickly.

When I was a kid, my brother and I sometimes got into fights.  They never lasted long … and I usually won … but I didn’t always fight fair.

I’d hit him hard enough to end matters, and then immediately tell him, “I’m sorry.  Will you forgive me?”

I wasn’t inwardly remorseful or repentant … just outwardly dutiful … and with my lousy attitude, my brother had every right not to forgive me.

In other words, some conflicts can be resolved too quickly.

But that’s not the case with most of us.  We let conflicts drag on … damaging our relationships … poisoning our souls … and sometimes spreading to others.

So when Jesus’ followers are offended, He wants them to resolve matters as quickly as possible.

I once worked for a pastor who was feuding with the chairman of the deacons.  Their feud was becoming known all over the church.  It was getting ugly.

One Sunday morning … before communion … the pastor publicly told the congregation that he and the deacon chairman weren’t getting along, and publicly asked for his forgiveness.  The chairman stood and forgave the pastor.  (What other option did he have?)

My problem with that approach is that now scores of people knew about a conflict they didn’t need to know about … but they did see their pastor model Matthew 5:23-24 in action.

I’ve said it many times: if Christians would just apply Matthew 18:15 with a degree of urgency … as well as Matthew 5:23-24 … church splits would be reduced to almost zero.

Finally, Jesus never modeled these verses for us.

In Matthew 15, Jesus warned His disciples against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  In verse 12, “His disciples came to him and asked, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

Jesus didn’t apologize for His sentiments.  He didn’t feel convicted.  He didn’t seek out His spiritual rivals and tell them, “Look, guys, I didn’t mean what I said” or “I could have said things better.  I’m so sorry.”

No, He doubled down and told His followers, “Leave them; they are blind guides.  If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14).

When I was a pastor, I once received a phone call from the son-in-law of a man whose memorial service I had conducted.  The man reamed me out for preaching the gospel at his father-in-law’s service and demanded an apology.  I refused and told the man I had every right to say whatever I wanted on my own turf … our church’s worship center.

I didn’t know the man.  He wasn’t my brother.  These verses don’t apply to such people … although “do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6) was more relevant to his situation.

But in Mark 3:20-35, Jesus’ mother and brothers were really worried about Him.  They thought He was “out of his mind” and that He was so devoted to ministry that He wasn’t taking care of Himself.

When they “went to take charge of him,” Jesus didn’t apologize for upsetting them.  Once again, He doubled down … refused to go back home with them … and said to the crowd surrounding Him, “Who are my mother and my brothers?  Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus didn’t say … as that sensitive pastor did … “I don’t know what I did to offend you, but I want to tell you I’m sorry and ask you to forgive me.”  No, Jesus ignored His mother and brothers … claimed His listeners as His spiritual family … and focused on the mission the Father had given Him to do.

I don’t pretend to understand completely all the ramifications of this passage.  It’s been one that has troubled me over the years, and I’m not always sure how to apply it.

But I hope that my thoughts will cause you to think through not only the truths of these verses, but also their importance in your spiritual and relational worlds.

There are occasional verses in Scripture that I don’t fully understand.

And two of those verses are found in Matthew 5:23-24 in the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Jesus seems to be saying, “If you’re in the act of worshiping God, and suddenly recall that a fellow believer is angry with you, suspend your worship, seek out your friend, make things right, and return to worship renewed.”

These two verses seemed simple to live out … until I became a pastor.  And then I ran into all kinds of scenarios where I tried to live out these verses but wasn’t sure how to apply them.

Some examples:

*How about when a pastor stands up to preach?

Some Sunday mornings, I would walk up to the stage … look out over the congregation … see several people who didn’t like me … and wonder, “Should I keep on preaching, or stop everything and find out why those people hate me?”

I kept on preaching … but did I violate Matthew 5:23-24 in the process?

*How about when people leave the church without telling you as pastor?

One time, a family had stopped coming on Sundays for several weeks, and someone told me they had left the church.  So I drove over to their house and knocked on their door, and the man of the house appeared.  When I asked if I could speak with him and his wife, he refused because his wife didn’t want to talk to me.  Although she later returned to the church for a brief time, the family ultimately left for good … and they never did tell me what I had done wrong.

I tried to apply Matthew 5:23-24 in that situation … so why didn’t it work?

*How about when someone continually asks if you are angry with them?

Years ago, a staff member came to me every few weeks and asked me, “Are you upset with me?  Have I done something to offend you?”  I wondered, “Am I giving off accidental signals that he’s displeased me?  Or is he just an overly-sensitive individual?”  Although he was trying to live out Matthew 5:23-24, in my view, he went way overboard.

Let’s reverse this situation.  How would you feel if your pastor came to you every few weeks and asked, “Have I done something to offend you?  Please tell me what I’ve done so I can make things right between us!”  Would you start to run every time he got near you?

*How about when someone comes to you and says, “So-and-So is really angry with you?”

This scenario happens to every pastor.  Whether they’re meddling or just want everybody to get along, some churchgoers seem to ferret out offenses that the pastor has committed against others … then come to the pastor to report the bad news.

If a pastor has preached his heart out at two services on Sunday morning, and a Christian ferret comes to him after the service and says, “There are four individuals in this congregation who are really upset with you, pastor,” should the pastor spend the rest of his Sunday contacting these people to make things right with them?

But most of the time, when I have approached people who were reportedly incensed at me, they denied that they felt that way at all … and sometimes, I felt like an idiot.

Is that a valid application of Matthew 5:23-24?

*How about when a pastor makes a decision that negatively impacts many people in the church?

I once attended a leadership conference at a prominent megachurch.  A well-known pastor told us that he once tried to impose a major change on his church, but because he didn’t handle things wisely, many people were either upset with him or stopped coming altogether.  In the spirit of Matthew 5:23-24, this pastor visited every home that he could identify where people were upset with him, and he apologized for his behavior personally.

While I have great admiration for any pastor who would humble himself like that, I also wonder if that was the best way to handle that situation.

I am not trying to evade what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:23-24, but I am trying to understand His words so that pastors know when to apply them … and when not to do so.

What do you think Jesus was saying in those two verses?

I’ll have more to say on this topic next time.

Many years ago, I saw an ad in a Christian publication promoting a product I found offensive.

A certain televangelist was inviting churches to buy satellite equipment so they could beam the messages from his church into their worship services.  The idea behind the ad was that if a church really wanted to grow, then its people needed to listen to this single gifted man.

The ad outraged me.  This televangelist came from the South, while our church was in the West.  He came from a charismatic church, while ours was non-charismatic.  He often used a condemning tone, while I tried to speak with grace.  He did not know our people, but I did.  And he was not a biblical expositor, while that’s what I loved doing most.

How dare he presume that every church in America needed to hear him preach every week rather than their own pastor!

I hope that few churches signed up for this offer.  Not long after that ad came out, that televangelist engaged in some extracurricular activities that resulted in the satellite dishes being turned off … for good.

While that was an extreme case, the Christian world seems to be increasingly listening to fewer and fewer biblical teachers.

Many churches now have only one teacher in the entire congregation: the pastor.  Since most churches don’t offer adult classes or Sunday evening services or midweek worship anymore, the pastor becomes the lone communicator of biblical truth by default … or design.

Even if a church has small groups, leaders are usually instructed to facilitate discussion rather than teach in any meaningful way.  And increasingly, that discussion is about the pastor’s message from the week before.  So even gifted teachers who lead such groups aren’t supposed to teach anything, but let everyone talk.

There are pros and cons to this approach.

For starters, it helps some preachers lead a more balanced life.  I once knew the pastor of a megachurch who told me he studied 50 hours every week.  (You read that right.)  He studied 15 hours for the Sunday morning service, 15 hours for the Sunday evening service, and 20 hours for the Wednesday night prayer meeting.

Why so long for the Wednesday night service?  Because he never knew who might show up to hear him, and he wanted to be accurate in his teaching.  (John MacArthur showed up a few times unannounced.)

Forgive me, but that’s insane, if not self-destructive.  In fact, that pastor died less than two years after he shared that information with me.  Since studying is a sedentary habit, the lack of bodily movement may have done him in.

So that’s one extreme: the pastor is the primary teacher in the church and teaches all the time except when he’s on vacation.

We now have another approach which I believe is much more healthy: the pastor shares the teaching role with several other gifted communicators.  Each teacher may teach for an entire series and then take the next one or two off, or each teacher might be assigned a different Sunday during the same series.

The advantages are enormous.  The congregation gets to hear from several gifted teachers.  The pastors have plenty of time to prepare their messages.  And messages can be divided up by specialties.  It can be difficult listening to the same voice all the time, but if you hear two or more voices, it’s much easier to take.

The downside, of course, is that most churches can only afford one gifted teacher, not three or four.  And the more gifted someone is, the more often they want to speak … and the more often the congregation wants to hear them.

Now a few megachurches are planting satellite churches in outlying areas and sending a live feed of the message from the mother church into those venues.  A church I once attended has been doing this all over the Phoenix area and has started several satellite campuses in the area where we used to live.

When they did this, they absorbed another megachurch.  The pastor from that megachurch taught periodically at the mother megachurch, but several months later, he left … and hasn’t been heard from since.

It seems to me that technology is leading to a social Darwinism in the Christian community.

For example, a pastoral colleague recently told me that Rick Warren was opening up a satellite campus in his community.  What would happen in your area if that happened?  Would people from your church flock to the satellite campus and desert your church and pastor?

Is this about reaching more people, trying to amass the most followers, increasing revenue streams, or all of the above?

I have six concerns about this particular trend:

First, what happens when a popular teacher veers off course theologically? 

If thousands of people have to choose between the teachings of Paul the apostle or their favorite Christian communicator, who will they choose?  There is a Gen X preacher who is clearly off the rails theologically, and I know someone who thinks he’s great.  How much effort should I expend in trying to convince him otherwise?

Second, what happens if a famous teacher falls morally?  

Twenty-five plus years ago, some of America’s best-known Christian leaders were involved in sexual scandals.  It was a hard time to be the pastor of any church.  I remember one woman (who did not attend our church) who kept calling and implying that all these guys were crooks.  Although there have been fewer scandals in recent years (thank God!), when we farm out our teaching to a chosen few, those teachers seem to represent all of Christianity to many people.  And if a few of them go down, it impacts everybody.

Third, what happens to smaller and medium-sized churches? 

Back in the 1990s, Christian pollster George Barna predicted that the days were coming when most churches in America would be either small or large and that medium-sized churches would soon become extinct.  I’m not worried about the satellite churches winning lost people to Christ.  There are enough unbelievers out there for everybody.  Instead, I’m concerned about believers in smaller churches who have struggled for years to make their church go and finally leave it to join a satellite church.  While the jury is out on this approach, I hope we’ll see the results of surveys on this trend soon and be able to adjust accordingly.

Fourth, why are we letting a few people do all our thinking for us?  

I once heard a new pastor in Silicon Valley tell a group of pastors that whenever he started preparing for a message, he first read all the commentators and then added his own thoughts.  My immediate response was, “Why aren’t you letting God speak directly to you first?”  Like many pastors, whenever I selected a passage to preach on, I first did all my own work and then consulted with the commentators to check my conclusions.

I didn’t want to preach a message that God gave to Chuck Swindoll or Bill Hybels: I wanted to bring a message to our people that God had given me.  Since many of these satellite churches hire pastors to be on premises while the megachurch pastor is speaking on satellite, how do they feel about having their teaching gifts shelved?

We need tens of thousands of pastors all over the world who don’t buy sermons from Rick Warren but who let God’s Spirit speak directly to them through His written Word.

Fifth, what is this one-teacher trend saying to other gifted teachers in a local church?

Let me share my own situation.

My primary spiritual gift is teaching.  It’s what I love to do more than anything else.

But after 36 years in church ministry, I don’t think I will ever be able to use my gift again inside a church.

Why not?

If I attended a small or medium-sized church, and the current pastor found out I was a former pastor and invited me to preach … and I did well … I would become a threat to him … and he would never ask me again.

If I attended a large church or a megachurch, it would probably take me years to be asked to preach … because 36 other guys would be asked before me.

So my teaching gift sits on the shelf, unused and unvalued by the wider body of Christ.

I wonder how many other gifted teachers have been banned from using their gifts in local churches because of the one-teacher approach?

Finally, what happens to rookie preachers? 

I preached my first sermon at 19 years of age in a Sunday night service at my home church.  While it wasn’t very good, my church let me teach many more times because I told them I had been called by God to preach.  There were a lot of venues back then for someone who was learning to preach: Sunday School classes, the Sunday evening service, the midweek service, as well as the local rescue mission.

But where does a preacher learn to teach today?

I have always believed that if someone is called by God to preach, they should preach first in front of their home church.  But the larger your home church is, the less likely that is to happen.

Before I became a pastor at age 27, I had preached in a church setting about 50 times.  There were a lot of things I had to learn – and a few I had to unlearn.

But with increasingly fewer opportunities, where can a young preacher learn to develop his gift?

Acts 13:1 says that the church in Antioch had “prophets and teachers” [plural], including Barnabas and Saul.

1 Timothy 5:17 mentions “the elders who direct the affairs of the church well” and then singles out “those [plural] whose work is preaching and teaching.”

Seems to me that New Testament churches didn’t have just one teacher … they had multiple teachers.

Romans 12:6-7 says, “If a man’s gift is … teaching, let him teach …”

If local churches have one only teacher, where are the other gifted teachers supposed to teach?

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“If you can preach, people will forgive you for all kinds of mistakes, but if you can’t preach, they will nail you on everything they can.”

That’s a paraphrase of what a megachurch pastor once said during chapel when I was in seminary … and there’s a lot of truth in that observation.

For a long time, I have believed that the primary way for a pastor to create conflict in his church is to promote change without first receiving the approval of the board, staff, and key leaders.

Change creates anxiety … causes people to complain … the complainers organize … they oppose the change maker … and if he doesn’t comply with their wishes … they strategize his demise.

But I have a theory … and I haven’t read this anywhere … that preaching may ultimately be the primary source of conflict in a local church.

Let me make my case:

First, the pastor is the only authority figure in modern life who tells people collectively how to live.

When I saw my doctor recently, he offered a few suggestions for helping me to become more healthy … but he did not gather all his patients in a room and bring us a lecture.

When I see a politician giving a speech on television, if he’s too prescriptive (Americans need to drive less, cut our electrical use, conserve water) I might talk back to him or change the channel.

All week long, we resist people in our lives who tell us how to live … even if they’re experts in their field.

And then we come to church on Sunday.

And what happens?  A man stands up … using the Bible as his source … and tells us: “You need to trust God more … humble yourself before the Lord … share your faith with your neighbors … treat your wife better … be honest at work … obey our country’s leaders …” and so on.

If we believe the Bible … and we like the pastor … and we’re walking with the Lord … we’ll want to comply with the pastor’s directives.

But if we don’t believe Scripture … or we dislike the pastor … or we’re not walking with God (and this incorporates a large percentage of any congregation) then we may very well resist the pastor’s words.

Paul … Stephen … Peter and John … all were persecuted because of their preaching.

They didn’t arouse opposition because they were disorganized administrators … or insensitive counselors … or poor staff supervisors … or even weak leaders.

No, they aroused opposition because of their preaching … just like Jesus did.

Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what a pastor says … just that he’s the one saying it.

My guess is that people complain more about their pastor during the two hours after he’s preached than during the rest of the week combined.

Why?  Because he’s just finished telling them how to live … and they don’t like it.

Second, the pastor arouses rebellion by preaching against specific sins.

If a pastor preaches against the sins of others, we’re all for him.

But when he starts preaching against our sins, we may very well rebel.

And if he doesn’t stop, we may even seek to take him out.

I think it’s safe to say that if John the Baptist were around today, he wouldn’t have a large congregation.  His preaching was too specific … too condemning … and way too personal.

Yet Herod Antipas liked to listen to John preach.  Mark writes that “Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man” (Mark 6:20).

But Herod’s wife Herodias felt differently: “So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him” (Mark 6:19).  Why did she feel that way?  “For John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife'” (Mark 6:18).

It took Herodias a while, but she finally took John out … for good … because he was preaching directly at an area of her life (marriage) where she refused to change.

It’s possible for one family member to love the pastor’s preaching … and for another member to hate it … even though the pastor has no idea who feels which way.

Whenever I preached against a specific sin … and if you’re being honest with the biblical text, you have to so … I hoped that my preaching would cause people to experience immediate transformation in that area of their life.

But sometimes, preaching causes sin to surface in someone’s life … at least for a few minutes.  If people repent, they’ll grow spiritually.  But if they resist, they’ll blame the messenger for coughing up their pain.

The experts tell us that it only takes 7 to 10 people to force out a pastor in any size church.

My guess is that a high percentage of those individuals are getting back at the pastor for preaching against specific sins in their lives … even if they aren’t conscious of it … and won’t ever admit it.

Third, the pastor’s authority, words, and manner can arouse open resistance.

Resistance toward preaching takes various forms:

*Not showing up.  During the final few months of my last church ministry, one board member in particular stopped coming to worship services.  I’d look down and see his wife … smiling … but he wasn’t sitting next to her … and I knew that wasn’t a good sign.

*Wandering around in the back.  In that same church, another board member never brought his Bible … and spent his time during my sermon doing everything besides sitting down and listening to the sermon.

*Watching from another room.  Still another board member from that church wouldn’t come into the worship center, but watched the service from a monitor in an adjoining room.

*Crossing arms.  My worst all-time antagonist once left the church for a year, then returned on a Sunday when I was preaching through Mark and spoke about Herod Antipas executing John the Baptist.  The antagonist sat twenty feet away from me with his arms folded … staring me down … then complained to the board chairman that I aimed the sermon at him.  I will never forget his body language that day because he launched a rebellion soon afterwards.

*Rarely looking up.  I’ve written before about a board member who spent 90% of the sermon time reading the notes in his Scofield Bible.  If all the pastor ever sees while preaching is the tops of some people’s heads … and they won’t look at him … that may signal resistance in action.

*Criticism after the sermon.  One time, when I served as guest speaker at a church, a staff member came to the front to make the announcements after I spoke, and tried to rebut something I said during the message.  I’m not sure everyone caught it, but I sure did.

This resistance could be to the pastor as a person … or a leader … or a counselor … and be communicating the message, “I don’t like or respect you, so I certainly don’t want to listen to you.”

But it could also be resistance to the pastor’s tone … speaking style … use of language … stories … cadence … sense of authority … or any one of a hundred other things.

Whether the pastor’s preaching reveals or causes resistance, though, there is no doubt that most church antagonists find fault with their pastor’s preaching … even if they never tell him to his face … but discerning observers may very well notice.

Finally, the pastor claims to be speaking for God … but some hearers just won’t buy it.

I was a pastor for 36 years.  During that time, what give me the right to stand up and tell people how to live?

In my mind, I was called by God to speak the Word of God to the people of God.  Any authority I had came from God’s call to ministry and from using Scripture as my authority.

While a pastor is speaking, many of his hearers identify him as God’s messenger … and sometimes, with God Himself.

And whether they’re conscious of it or not, they can project their feelings about God onto their pastor.

If they’re angry with God, they can become angry with their pastor.  If they’re disappointed with God, they can become disillusioned with his messenger.  If they’re wounded because God hasn’t protected them from suffering, they can blame God’s servant for the way they feel.

Seven years ago, I gave a message called “Defending Biblical Marriage.”  Using Matthew 19:4-6 as my text, I stated that Jesus reiterated that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman.

Without my knowledge, a board member and his wife invited a journalist from the local paper to hear me speak that day.  Being an unbeliever, I heard that she did not like my message … and later on, that leader asked me not to speak anymore on controversial issues.

But I couldn’t do that.  I had taken a vow at my ordination … which none of the board members knew about … that I would preach the whole counsel of God … which, in my mind, means that I am free to speak on any and every issue as long as I’m basing my remarks on the authority of God’s Word.

It is entirely possible that the ensuing conflict in my church was launched after I gave that message.

A colleague of mine who does church interventions once told me that he visited a congregation that was having massive problems.  As I recall, the pastor had been forced from office.

During his intervention, my colleague discovered that 14 church leaders were engaged in sexual immorality.  14!

Let’s say that you were the pastor of that church, and you were preaching through the Ten Commandments, and you came to the seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.”

With 14 leaders violating that commandment, how do you think they would respond to you?

They’d want your head.

Yes, conflict often arises in the church parking lot … and inside staff offices … and through cell phones … and during board meetings.

But my theory is that conflict originates more often inside the worship center during the pastor’s sermon than in any other place in the community.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

This Sunday marks 40 years since my wife Kim and I were married.  And by today’s standards, it was a very old-fashioned wedding.

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I was 21, she was 20.  We dated for 20 months … were engaged for four … and then got married at the church where I had met Kim two years earlier.

The wedding cost $500, and Kim paid for it herself.  (Her mother later reimbursed Kim half that amount.)  Somewhere around 400 people came to witness our vows on a miserably hot day.

Jim and Kim's Wedding Day

As church custodian, I arrived at my usual time of 8:00 am that Saturday to clean the church … then proceeded to lock my keys in my car … and had to call my laughing mother to get them out.

After I cleaned the church for five hours, I went home … put on my tux … and arrived in time for photos.

Kim’s father … our pastor … conducted the ceremony … making us kneel for more than 30 minutes while he talked about God, Abraham and Bonhoeffer.

Jim's Wedding Party

After the ceremony, some friends rifled through our wedding cards, took out the cash, and slipped it to me for our honeymoon.

We drove my mother’s car to Yosemite … mine never would have made it … and stayed in a cabin for several nights.

We rented a two-bedroom apartment in Santa Ana for $195 a month.  Kim made $1.65 working at a preschool, while I started seminary and worked at church as an ecclesiastical engineer.

People sometimes ask us the secret of our marital longevity.  My reply is always the same: “I married the right person.”

In fact, let me share with you five reasons why I know that I married the right person:

First, Kim is an emotionally strong woman.

San Diego means a lot to us.  It’s where we went for our first date … and our tenth anniversary.

We had a great time on our tenth … then drove back home to Silicon Valley where Kim entered the hospital for exploratory surgery the next day.

Kim had undergone some tests and been told that she had a mass in her abdomen.  After just ten years together, I feared I might lose her.

Thank God, she didn’t have a mass, but she did have a hysterectomy, and after giving birth to Ryan and Sarah, that was all God permitted us to have.

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But I remember how courageous Kim was during the entire time … and how her faith in God kept her sane.

During our last ministry, Kim was in and out of hospitals constantly.  She always handled herself well, assuring me that she’d be okay.

Sometimes I’m stronger than she is, and sometimes she’s stronger than me … but she has a resolve … a determination … that we can handle anything as long as we hold onto God and each other.

I love that about her.

Second, Kim is far more adventuresome than I am.

From ages 10 through 15, Kim went to boarding school in India and Pakistan while her parents served as medical missionaries in Saudi Arabia.  She only saw her parents a few months every year and had to learn to adjust to other cultures in primitive surroundings.

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When I met her three years after she came home to the States, she talked all the time about how much she loved the Middle East.  In fact, she really wanted to be a missionary.

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But then she met me … and I’ve never been in her league as far as adventure.

In 1992, Kim and I began talking about saving enough money to visit Europe for our twentieth anniversary three years later.  But the church I served as pastor was struggling financially, and we agreed to give sacrificially for the church to survive.

So I told Kim, “Look, based on our finances, I don’t see how we can go to Europe.”  Kim responded, “If you don’t go, I’m going by myself.”

Somehow, we scraped together enough money to visit the Continent, and found ourselves on a mountain peak in Switzerland the morning of our twentieth anniversary.

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We’ve flown overseas many times since then, and due to my dislike for flying, I probably never would have gone … except for my wife, who became accustomed to flying all over the world when she was ten years old.

On our only trip to Hawaii many years ago, she insisted on hang gliding over the ocean and then being dropped into the water … while I was holding onto the boat for dear life.

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I love that about her.

Third, Kim is a fun-loving party planner.

The weekend I was going to turn forty, Kim told me to clear out my calendar.  I had no idea what she was up to.

Thursday night, we went to a movie and to dinner … and then spent the night in a hotel.

Friday morning, we went to the San Jose airport where we met our two kids.  Then we flew to Orange County, where we met my sister Jan … and went to Disneyland for the day.

That night, we drove to my brother’s house in San Bernardino, where all my old friends showed up for a surprise party.

On Saturday, after flying home to San Jose, Kim planned another surprise party for me at church.

Over the years, Kim has used her skills in party-planning to gather large crowds for events.

When she worked for a large child care company in San Jose, they held a dance every year … one year, as the event neared, they hadn’t sold near enough tickets.

Kim volunteered to distribute them.  The goal wasn’t to make money, but to fill the auditorium downtown with people who would watch those kids dance.

When the curtain opened, the place was packed.  Kim had done something nearly impossible … turned a disaster into a roaring success.

She later used those skills to draw large crowds for community events at our church … and she thought BIG … a little too big for some people, who felt that the purpose of those events should be to make money.

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But her goal was to turn out a crowd so they could discover where our hidden church was located … invite people to attend … and hope that we could reach them for Christ … and she had a blast doing it.

In fact, she loves to say, “Church should be fun.”

I love that about her.

Fourth, Kim loves to reach people for Christ.

Kim was the full-time outreach director at our last church for nearly nine years.  Her work must have reached someone’s ears, because one year, she was asked to be the keynote speaker for outreach at the Bay Area Sunday School Convention.

Since I was leading several workshops of my own, I was only able to attend one of Kim’s … but her presentation blew me away.

The room was standing room only.  Kim knew her topic so well that she mesmerized the people in that room … and motivated them to do outreach in their own churches.

In addition:

*She put together ways for our church to reach its community … and built bridges with the local Chamber of Commerce.

*She visited Moldova four years in a row on mission trips … leading teams from our church the last three years.

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*She met a pastor from Kenya named Peter online.  She corresponded with him for nine months … then took a girlfriend from church and flew to Kenya to meet Peter.  She trained Peter in various aspects of ministry … trained other pastors as well … taught them how to reach out … and brought Peter to our church in the Bay Area.

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Today, Peter leads a thriving church in Nairobi, and as a bishop, he oversees 28 other pastors.  After we left our last church, Kim connected with a church in Atlanta … flew to Kenya … and trained two pastors from that church … and they now work closely with Peter to reach people in Kenya for Jesus.

*She raised $43,000 for a well in Peter’s village in less than three months.  She flew to Kenya with a team from our church to dedicate the well … and spent the day with the Vice President of Kenya.

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Although many Christian leaders are uncomfortable with women in leadership, Kim has always served voluntarily under my direction and done it all with grace and sensitivity.

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I love that about her.

Finally, Kim knows how to get things done.

Three years ago, I flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be trained to be an interim pastor.  It seemed like the only ministry option available to me at my age.

While I was there, the director of the ministry asked me if I’d be willing to go to New Hampshire to help out a church that was losing its pastor.  I instantly said, “Yes.”

Kim and I drove across the country where I served as interim pastor for only three months.  (The church called a pastor the second week we were there.)  Then we drove back to Southern California … without a new assignment.

My director mentioned several possible assignments in places as varied as Louisiana … South Dakota … Chicago … and upstate New York … but nothing materialized … and we were running out of time.

Finally, the director matched me up with a church in New York, and Kim and I flew there for an extended weekend … hoping and praying that things would work out.

But they didn’t, and as we were driving back to LaGuardia Airport, our future looked bleak.

With a burst of inspiration, Kim suddenly said, “I know what we can do.  I can start a preschool in our house.”

Within a few weeks, we rented a larger house in a better location … Kim sent in her application to the state … we began acquiring play equipment and tables and supplies … and on August 5, 2013, we launched Little Explorers Preschool.

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The school has gone very well.  Kim directs, teaches, works with parents, and manages two employees, while I do the finances, marketing, cleaning, and more.

Kim and Children for Marketing

We work long hours, but enjoy having nights and weekends free … especially to drive through the mountains to see our two grandsons in Orange County.

IMG_5365IMG_5327At Corner Bakery in Irvine Celebrating Kim's 60th Birthday

Is ours a perfect marriage?  No.  We’re both strong-willed individuals.  We are both expressive and opinionated.  I can be stubborn, and Kim can be feisty … so at least life together is never dull!

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I love that about her.

I am glad that God gave me Kim because:

*She is hilarious.  She makes me laugh … constantly.  She recently posted a photo online promoting the preschool and wrote, “The children never cease to be bored.”  I laughed my head off … and when I pointed out what that phrase meant, she didn’t get it … so I laughed some more.

*She is appreciative.  When I do even the most mundane tasks, she thanks me.  When I do something surprising, she is grateful.  Her lack of entitlement makes serving her a joy.

*She never nags me.  She might remind me of something I promised to do, but she’ll tell me once and trust that I’ll come through.

*She has always supported my love for sports.  Although she’s gone to many games with me, she’s happy for me to watch baseball, football, and basketball as much as I want … and has never complained about it.

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*She and I can talk for hours and never run out of things to discuss.  That’s always a sign that you married the right person.

*She loves the Lord.  I tell her that on our first date, I fell in love with her heart … and to this day, that love has grown larger and stronger.

Even though we are exact opposites as far as our personalities go, we enjoy a deep, abiding love that has only grown stronger with time.

I don’t like it when people say, “I have the greatest wife in the world.”  The statement may be emotionally understandable, but it’s ultimately illogical … and is a way of saying, “My woman is better than yours.”

I’d rather say, “I married the right person for me” … and by God’s grace, I did.

Happy 40th anniversary, Sweetheart!

Whenever a pastor is forced out of his position, there are usually two stories as to what happened.

There’s the public version … designed to placate the pastor’s supporters and congregation.

Then there’s the real version … smothered beneath a pile of rhetoric and obfuscation.

In most cases, a pastor is accountable to some kind of governing board, whether they’re called elders, deacons, a council, a vision team … whatever.

When a pastor is dismissed, that board wants to say as little as possible to the church as a whole.

In some cases, they don’t want to make the pastor look bad … but in many cases, they don’t want to make themselves look bad.

So they try and smooth matters over by using phrases in public like, “We just felt it was time” or “We’re going in a different direction” or “If you knew what we know about the pastor, you’d have asked for his resignation, too.”

But so often, nobody ever mentions the real reasons why an innocent pastor was permanently exiled … so let me take a shot at it:

First, the pastor was gaining too much power.

This is especially true in small or rural churches where a family and their cohorts have run things for decades.

A new pastor is called to the church.  He attracts lots of newcomers … who start serving in various ministries.

Some become leaders … and their allegiance is to the pastor … not to the board or even the church.

Feeling their power slipping away, the old timers resist the pastor’s leadership … resent his success … and finally decide, “He has to go.”  (Of course, this is the same scenario that happened with Jesus and the Sanhedrin.)

Most of the time, the pastor’s detractors won’t even breathe what’s in their hearts to the pastor or his supporters.  To criticize a pastor for bringing in new people looks petty … vindictive … and unspiritual.

This scenario often occurs when a church grows too fast too soon … or the pastor makes too many changes early in his ministry … but it can happen at any time during a pastor’s tenure.

And once the pastor has disappeared, the governing board is back in control … and get to choose any interims as well as the next pastor.

Second, the pastor was perceived as being too stubborn.

When I was in high school, I hung out with a group of friends who were all … and still are … great guys.  They didn’t drink (around me, anyway) … didn’t take drugs … and didn’t cause trouble.

One Friday night after a football game, they wanted to drive by the home of a song leader they liked … honk a car horn … and yell.  (It’s as close as they were ever going to get to her.)  It was fine with me if they did it … I just thought it was stupid.  So I asked to be taken home first.

Because I didn’t want to go with them, was I being stubborn or acting out of some kind of conviction?

I mention this because people … even board members … sometimes bring pastors stupid proposals … and if the pastor doesn’t say, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” he’s branded as being controlling … stiff-necked … and stubborn.

For twenty years, I wanted my ministry in churches to be characterized by four values: theological accuracy … moral integrity … methodological flexibility … and an outreach orientation.

I tried to be flexible with people’s suggestions and ideas as long as we didn’t sacrifice those values.  But if somebody wanted me to bend on integrity … or stop caring about spiritually lost people … I simply wasn’t going to do it … and if I paid for my convictions by being terminated … so be it.

For example, most pastors believe they can only marry two Christians … not a Christian to a non-Christian.  And if the daughter of the board chairman wants to marry an unbeliever … and the pastor refuses to perform their ceremony … his refusal may be termed “stubbornness” rather than “a biblical and personal conviction.”

I honestly think that many members of the church staff and board don’t understand how strongly most pastors hold their convictions … so maybe pastors need to do a better job of explaining in public why they believe what they do … even if people don’t understand or like what he’s saying.

But when a stubborn pastor meets a stubborn board … the pastor is usually the one who takes a hike.

Third, the pastor personally offended someone who wouldn’t forgive him.

If we could see into the hearts of God’s people, this reason just might emerge as Number One.

Being human and flawed, pastors sin against people at times.

I’d like to think that when a pastor is aware of his sin against someone, he seeks that person out … apologizes to them … receives verbal forgiveness … and their relationship continues unabated.

But there are two common scenarios where these steps are circumvented … or discarded altogether:

*The pastor has said or done something that offends someone … but the pastor doesn’t know anything about it.

The pastor could have said something that offended someone from the pulpit … or in a private conversation … or in a church communique … but the person offended never talks to the pastor about it.

But rather than forgive him unilaterally … or talk with the pastor personally … this individual starts finding fault with the pastor on many levels … completely hiding what their real motivation is.

How can the pastor ever make such an offense right?  He can’t.

*The pastor finds out that he hurt someone and apologizes for his actions … but the person offended either won’t forgive him or … more likely … says he or she forgives him but really doesn’t.

How can the pastor make that situation right?  Once again … he can’t.

The real offense in this scenario is not that the pastor said or did something wrong … it’s that the person the pastor hurt refuses to forgive him from the heart … because they view his offense as unforgivable.

Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Many Christians believe that the “bitter root” refers to a believer who is angry with someone else and won’t forgive them … but in context, it seems to refer to a Christian who is so bitter against another believer that their anger spreads inside the congregation and poisons many.

If true, how ironic that a congregation that preaches forgiveness to sinners might expel their pastor because a single person refused to forgive him!

But sadly, the pastor might never discover the real reason for his departure.

Fourth, the pastor offended a group that threatened, “Either he goes or we go.”

I remember reading about a prominent megachurch pastor who angered some long-time families in his congregation.

The pastor was trying to make changes to their worship services.  He went through the proper channels … the staff, the official board, worship team personnel … but there was one group he didn’t consult: those with old money.

They weren’t in positions of official power anymore, but when they heard about the pastor’s proposed changes, they went berserk because in their eyes, they were important … and he should have run everything by them.

(This story reminds me of the truism: small churches have small problems … while big churches have big problems.)

Due to the criticisms leveled against him, this megachurch pastor … someone I knew many years ago … resigned his ministry after 14 successful years.

The conflict made the local newspaper, which is where I read about the charges made by the people with old money.

If those making this ultimatum are good friends with members of the official board … if they hold important leadership positions … if they are wealthy and/or generous donors … then more often than not, this tactic will work … and the board will send the pastor packing.

But chances are poor that the pastor will ever hear anything about it.

Finally, the pastor was hit with an allegation that he couldn’t address in public.

One pastor told me that an older woman in his congregation threatened to make some charges against him and circulate them throughout the church.

The pastor knew that the charges were false, but he also knew that if they got out, some people would automatically believe them and insist that he resign … or threaten to leave themselves … so he quit instead.

I love Christ’s church, but I can’t stand this kind of lying.  I just hate it.

This is not who Jesus is … nor who Jesus wants His people to be … and it’s exactly what Satan wants: to make a spiritual leader quit based on deception and destruction.

Once a false accusation hits the ecclesiastical grapevine, a pastor is toast unless the church/board provides him with a quick and credible way of defending himself in public.

And sadly, most churches lack such a mechanism.

If I was a member of a church board, I would not let my pastor be driven out of the church based on a lie … even if I thought his best days were behind him.

In fact, I’d do the following things:

*track down the source of the false charge

*confront the person making the allegation and ask them to repent … and ask them to leave the church if they didn’t

*ask the pastor to respond to the allegation in public as soon as possible

*support the pastor’s version of events in public

*teach the church that Christians never use the devil’s tactics to do God’s work

How could I as a spiritual leader allow Satan to have free reign in Christ’s church?

Power struggles … pastoral convictions … bitter parishioners … group threats … and false allegations … these are among the real reasons why pastors are terminated in our day.

But I believe there’s one more reason that I haven’t yet mentioned that towers above them all … and I promise to write a separate article about it soon.

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