Archive for February, 2013

Several years ago, my wife and I hired a handyman to do some work in our kitchen.

At first, he seemed like a good guy.  He invoiced me … I paid him promptly … and he continued working.

But many weeks later, I came home one night and did not like the work he was doing.

The handyman asked me specifically what I thought of his handiwork.  Trying to be diplomatic, I did not praise his work as he wished.

He started packing up his stuff and putting it in his truck … and then he made his move.

He demanded that I pay him right then and there.

The work wasn’t done.  It was far from over.

While my wife looked on, he got right in my face and demanded that I write him a check.

I did.

He turned on his heel and walked away … leaving our kitchen in shambles … and forcing us to hire someone else to complete the job.

After taking a few days to calm down, I wrote the handyman a letter, detailing the work he had agreed to do but had not finished.

He responded by sending me a text message featuring a four-letter word and threatening to harm me.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I called the police.  An officer came over and took my statement.  If I ended up dead on the side of the road, at least detectives had a lead.

What should I have done with my grievances?

I spoke directly with the handyman and did not overreact emotionally.  When he got in my face, I stood my ground.

But how much is being right worth?  What if he had a gun in his truck?

My favorite relational verse in Scripture is Romans 12:18.  Paul writes: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Let me make four quick observations about this verse:

First, Paul addresses his directive to the entire congregation in Rome.

Most contemporary materials on conflict management for believers are directed to pastors and staff members, followed by board members and key leaders.

But there is little available for the average layperson in the church.

Is this because books on conflict don’t sell?  Because research shows that people won’t read them?  Because churchgoers won’t follow their directives even if they do read them?  Because most conflicts are between leaders?

I’m not sure, but the New Testament epistles were usually read to the entire church.  While Paul did address 3 of his letters to church leaders (two to Timothy, one to Titus) along with one to a friend (Philemon), he addressed his other 9 epistles to 7 church congregations.

Paul knew what he was doing.  It’s not enough to target leaders with biblical teaching about conflict management.  The entire church needs the teaching … and I believe pastors need to plan to teach about conflict management/resolution to their congregations at least once every year.

Second, Paul encourages believers to “live at peace with everyone.”

Who’s everyone?  Just believers?

I believe “everyone” refers to every single person you meet.  For example, Paul writes in Titus 3:1-2: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

This includes that rude waitress … and the driver who just cut you off … and the government official who treats you like dirt … and that unpredictable teenager living in your home.

Can a Christian confront wrongdoing?  Yes.  Can we stand up for ourselves assertively?  Yes.  Can we express displeasure at the way we’ve been treated?  Yes.

But we need to know when to back down … when to cool off … and when to walk away.

That’s pursuing peace.

Third, Paul directs believers to take responsibility for their own responses.

There’s a phrase I used to use but retired years ago: “You make me mad.”

That phrase implies that someone else can control my emotions, but the truth is that God wants me to control my own emotions.

You can provoke me … you can bully me … you can threaten me … but you can’t make me mad.

Only I can make myself mad.

I realize that sometimes people push our buttons and we react a split second later with anger.  But as we grow in Christ, we need to learn to (a) delay our anger, (b) defuse our anger, and (c) divert our anger.

But even if I do feel or demonstrate anger, I am responsible for my choices.

And I can choose to pursue peace rather than retaliation.

Finally, Paul implies there will be times when we cannot reconcile with someone.

He gives us an out with the phrase “if it is possible.”

I can do everything in my power to get along with someone, but if they are determined to ignore or hate me, there’s nothing I can do about it.

I can pray for reconciliation … and try and speak with them … and ask others to serve as mediators … but like that handyman, if someone chooses to walk out of my life, I can’t prevent it.

Try as we might, we cannot make anyone love us.  While we can choose to pursue peace, others can choose to pursue hatred.

Three decades ago, I pastored a church where a married couple held the top lay leadership positions in the church.  He was the head of the deacons, she the deaconesses.

They attended a Christian university famous for its intolerance.  I assumed they were better than their schooling.

They weren’t.

The youth pastor took the youth group to a Christian rock concert, which I supported.  But this couple didn’t agree.

They gave me a 15-page document detailing why “Christian rock” was evil.

The deacon chairman wanted me to agree that the youth would never attend another Christian rock concert.  I suggested we meet and talk instead.

He announced that his family was leaving the church.

Even though I considered him a friend, I never saw him again … and when their daughter married a young man from the church, everyone was invited to the wedding … except my wife and me.

He made me choose: music or me?

I chose music.

The pain of that loss has long since dissipated, but I’ll never forget that incident … or any of the others where I had to make a similar choice.

Maybe we’ll meet someday in heaven and laugh about that time … but I refuse to feel guilty about it because of these words:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

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Great songs have a way of taking us back in time to a specific place and moment.

“Just My Imagination” by The Temptations takes me back to a New Year’s retreat at Forest Home.

“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys reminds me of a rare Rain Day in high school.

“Love is All Around” by The Troggs transports me back to ninth grade.

I know I’m dating myself with my selections, but that’s okay … I can only write about what I know.

All of the above songs are in my list of Honorable Mention Love Songs, including the following:

“I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B.J. Thomas (heard him sing it live several years ago)

“And I Love You So” by Don McLean (Perry Como had the hit)

“Til There Was You” from The Music Man (and covered by The Beatles)

“Love Minus Zero/No Limit” by Bob Dylan (“She knows there’s no success like failure/and that failure’s no success at all”)

“Follow Me” by John Denver (sung at my wedding)

“Carrying a Torch” by Van Morrison (written for Tom Jones)

“Let it be Me” by the Everly Brothers (and covered a million times since)

“Song for a Winter’s Night” by Gordon Lightfoot (“I would be happy just to hold the hands I love/On this winter night with you”)

“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers (what a vocal by Bobby Hatfield!)

“I Will be There” by Steven Curtis Chapman (why are there such few great love songs from Christian artists?)

“Wouldn’t it be Nice?” by The Beach Boys (who grew up five miles from my boyhood home)

“What Can I Do” by The Corrs (the band of Irish siblings who never made it big in America … but deserved to do so)

“Something in the Way She Moves” by James Taylor (George Harrison borrowed the line from his fellow Apple artist for his own “Something”)

“For My Lady” by The Moody Blues (“Oh, I’d give my life so lightly/for my gentle lady/give it freely and completely/to my lady”)

“All My Loving” by the Fab Four (the first song they performed live in America – on The Ed Sullivan Show – and I saw it … along with 73 million others)

These are my Top 5 Favorite Love Songs:

Number 5: “Perhaps Love” by John Denver

JD was the biggest entertainer in the world in the mid-1970s – so big that he filled the Universal Amphitheatre in Hollywood for a solid week.  I saw him twice in concert there.  The second time, I drove an hour to buy tickets for a show early one morning, walked to the ticket counter, and counted how many people were in line ahead of me: 425.

JD was so popular that my grandmother once told me, “John Denver.  That’s my guy!”  He had his critics, but few artists could write and sing a love song like this:

Perhaps love is like the ocean

Full of conflict, full of pain

Like a fire when it’s cold outside

Or thunder when it rains

If I should live forever

And all my dreams come true

My memories of love

Will be of you

By his own admission, this was the best song JD ever wrote.  It should have been a monster hit, but when it came out, JD’s career was already fading.  My sister-in-law Sara had it sung at her wedding … and the first time my wife and I visited Europe, this was “our song.”

JD sang this as a duet with Placido Domingo, one of The Three Tenors.  Here’s a clip of their version:


He’s struggling with his voice here, but for me, it makes this clip all the more endearing:


Number 4: “Catch the Wind” by Donovan

When he first surfaced in the mid-1960s, Donovan – who is Scottish – was billed as Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan.  His music was always … different … but he had some big hits.  This was his first hit, and for me, his best:

In the chilly hours and minutes

Of uncertainty, I want to be

In the warm hold of your loving mind

To feel you all around me

And to take your hand along the sand

Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind

Donovan has recorded this song in many different versions: the original acoustic version, a slowed-down version for his Greatest Hits album, and a live version, to name just a few.

Here’s just Donovan and his guitar:


And he duets with Crystal Gayle in this clip from 1981:


Number 3: “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden

When this song came out in 2000, I heard it everywhere.  And no wonder – it was the most played song on the radio in the US that year.

This Australian duo had other hits as well, but I don’t know any of them … just this one song.  (Their fame later caused them to split.)

This is the only song in my list from this century.  The chorus:

I knew I loved you before I met you

I think I dreamed you into life

I knew I loved you before I met you

I have been waiting all my life

When you met the Right One, that’s how you feel.

The video features a well-known actress.  See if you can guess which one:


Number 2: “I’ll Never Find Another You” by The Seekers

The Seekers were an Australian folk-influenced pop group with lead vocals by Judith Durham.  This song was written by Tom Springfield, brother of the famed British singer Dusty Springfield.

The Seekers were huge in Australia and England, and have sold 60 million records worldwide.  Their biggest hit was “Georgy Girl.”

Somebody needs to redo this song:

There’s a new world somewhere

They call the Promised Land

And I’ll be there someday

If you will hold my hand

I still need you there beside me

No matter what I do

For I know I’ll never find another you

The lyrics are so captivating that it was used as the theme song for the Marriage Encounter weekend my wife and I attended many years ago.

If they gave me a fortune

My pleasure would be small

I could lose it all tomorrow

And never mind at all

But if I should lose your love, dear

I don’t know what I’d do

For I know I’ll never find another you

I did some research online to see if Judith Durham lived out the lyrics to this song, and she did.  She was married 25 years to her husband, but even though he was struck with a fatal disease, she cared for him until his death.

This is a clip of The Seekers from a TV special in 1967:


And of all the clips I’ve presented, this is the most moving.  It’s Judith Durham singing in London in 2003 … and George and Linda, this is for you:


Number 1: “Kathy’s Song” by Simon and Garfunkel

This duo only released five albums, but so many songs became classics: “The Sound of Silence,” “I Am a Rock,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Homeward Bound,” and, of course, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”  We studied the lyrics to “Old Friends” in English class.  Max Lucado even quoted from “The Boxer” in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior.

I grew up in fundamentalist churches, and we weren’t supposed to listen to secular music … but Simon and Garfunkel were permitted.  Christian folk groups covered their stuff – and I even heard “Bridge” performed at a men’s retreat!

S&G’s lyrics are literate and dense … just the way I like them … because they make you think.

Imagine that you’re separated from the person you love by an ocean.  That’s how Paul Simon felt when he wrote this song for his British girlfriend Kathy.

In six verses, he describes how he feels about being separated from her on a rainy day in America:

My mind is distracted and diffused

My thoughts are many miles away

They lie with you when you’re asleep

And kiss you when you start your day

The fifth verse is my favorite:

And so you see, I have come to doubt

All that I once held as true

I stand alone without beliefs

The only truth I know is you

Viewed theologically, the words overstate the case … but they’re meant to be taken emotionally.  Kathy means the world to the songwriter.

Paul Simon has always sung this song live, but in this video clip, Art Garfunkel does the honors:


For me, all the love songs that have ever been sung apply to just one person.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart.

Giants' Spring Training Workout Feb. 20, 2012 058

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Since Valentine’s Day is near, I thought I’d take a break from writing about conflict and write about love instead.

You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but I’m quite a romantic guy … especially for a pastor … even though some people have accused pastors of being a third sex.

I love love … especially great songs about love.

In fact, as I was preparing for this article, I perused my “Love Songs” playlist on iTunes … and found I have 889 songs on it … some with multiple versions.

My favorite songs about love have to meet five criteria:

*The performance must be heartfelt with clean lyrics.  (There goes most of the 21st century.)

*The song must be well known or done by a major artist.

*No song can be a breakup song … all must refer to falling in love or being in love at present.  (There goes “Someone Like You” by Adele.)

*The song has to be one you can sing with … which means that sometimes the sparser the instrumentation, the better.

*The song has to move your soul and touch your heart … even moving you to tears.  (My top 5 songs all tear me up.)

After I made my list, I noticed that nearly every song was by a male artist or artists … and that a really good love song is a relatively rare thing.

I’ll count down my Top 5 next time.  Here are Love Songs 10 through 6:

Number 10: “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley

Elvis arrived on the scene long before I started paying attention to popular music, so I didn’t hear most of his great songs until my early teens.

But I know how much he meant to so many people.  While on a trip to the Southeast a few years ago, my son Ryan and I stopped to visit Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi:

Jim and Ryan Southern Trip 229

The home of his birthplace isn’t very large:

Jim and Ryan Southern Trip 230

You can even shake hands with a young Elvis:

Jim and Ryan Southern Trip 233

Of all Elvis’ songs, I like this one the best, especially this lyric:

Take my hand

Take my whole life too

For I can’t help

Falling in love with you

I’ve never been a fan of Vegas-style singing and playing, preferring sparser arrangements than Elvis used, but there’s no doubt he was a great entertainer, as this clip demonstrates:


Number 9: “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison

I tried to work in a love song by U2 … but there aren’t many … and I also tried to work in one from Bob Dylan … but his are more bittersweet.

But if you want love songs – great love songs – just listen to Van the Man – especially his stuff over the last 25 years.  His best love song is arguably “Have I Told You Lately,” popularized by Rod Stewart.

The song … sung to a lover … even suggests that the couple pray at the end of the day.

I took my wife to a Van concert for her birthday nearly 20 years ago.  What blew me away was the power of his voice: it filled the entire auditorium.  Yet Van suffers from stage fright, so much so that he sometimes performs with his back to the audience.  When he’s on, there’s nobody like him.  Here are two clips of him singing this song (the first clip is more restrained):



Number 8: “Here, There and Everywhere” by The Beatles

The Beatles were primarily purveyors of the love song … at least until Revolver and Sgt. Pepper came out … when they began writing about topics like the unfairness of taxes, the gap between teens and their parents, and growing to the age of 64.

This song … written by Paul McCartney while waiting for John Lennon around the latter’s pool … is one of their best, even though it was never issued as a single … and it comes from Revolver, considered by many experts to be the best album of all-time by anybody.

I’ve been privileged to see Sir Paul in concert twice … the last time in Phoenix, Arizona:

Paul McCartney in Phoenix March 28, 2010 132

Since The Beatles never did this song live, we’ll have to settle for a couple of clips of this song being performed by Sir Paul … in clips 10+ years apart (video is better on the second clip):



Number 7: “Beautiful” by Gordon Lightfoot

I wish I could see GL in concert.  Due to aging and some health problems, his voice isn’t what it once was,  but I have all his stuff and absolutely love his sound.  When Gord’s Gold came out a few months after our wedding, I played it over and over.

When my wife and I were selecting music for our wedding, this is one of the songs we considered … and no wonder, with lyrics like these:

At times I just don’t know

How you could be anything but beautiful

I think that I was made for you

And you were made for me

And I know that I will never change

Cause we’ve been friends through rain or shine

For such a long, long time

And then he ends with:

And I must say that it means so much to me

To be the one

That’s telling you

I’m telling you

That you’re beautiful

Here’s a clip of GL singing this song from several years ago:


And here’s a clip of the original song from 1972 … with a single image … and GL in classic form:


Number 6: “Angel Dream” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I love a lot of Tom Petty’s stuff … most of it from Full Moon Fever on … like “Free Fallin'” and “King’s Highway” and “You Wreck Me.”

In fact, my former church in Arizona started two services with Tom Petty songs: “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and my all-time TP favorite, “I Won’t Back Down.”

While he’s not known for his love songs, Tom and the gang have performed some great ones over the years … but this one is my favorite:

Now I’m walking this street on my own

But she’s with me everywhere I go

Yeah, I found an angel

I found my place

I can only thank God it was not too late

The second clip is better, but has subtitles in Spanish:



Those are five of my favorite love songs.

Out of the thousands of love songs out there, which are your favorites?

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I just posted the 250th blog article I’ve written since December 2010.

It used to be a good day if I had 25 views.  Now I regularly receive 3 times that number, for which I praise God.

I’m not writing about issues for the general Christian public … I’ll let others address those things.

Instead, I want to write about topics that Christians think about but can’t find much guidance on.

I especially want to expose the dark side of church leadership to the light.

I literally have scores of topics I can write about … all I have to do is peruse the terms people type into their search engines to find my blog.

And today, I turned in the manuscript for my book a second time to my publisher.  You’ll know when it’s ready!

My Top 10 all-time most viewed articles are:

1. If You Must Terminate a Pastor (3 1/2 times more views than the second most-read article)

2. Pastors Who Overfunction

3. Secular Songs You Can Sing in Church, Finale

4. When to Correct a Pastor

5. Secular Songs You Can Sing in Church, Part 1

6. When You’re Upset with Your Pastor

7. Pastors Who Cause Trouble

8. Conflict Lessons from War Horse

9. Facing Your Accusers

10. Why I Love London

Like most writers, sometimes I write for myself, and other times, I write to shed light on a problem area.

I can never predict how many times a particular article will be read … but I’m grateful every time someone reads even one.

And that includes you, my friend.

Thanks for reading!

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When pastors get together, what do they talk about?

Their walk with God?

Their family?

Church progress?

Yes, but in my experience, when pastors congregate, they talk about their ecclesiastical adversaries more than any other topic.

Why is this?

Maybe it’s because pastors can’t discuss this issue with anyone in their own congregations … or because their wives don’t want to hear about it anymore … or because they know that other pastors are the only ones who really understand how they feel.

Pastors must endure chronic complainers … and occasional critics … and these individuals can be found in every church, regardless of size.

Most pastors don’t lose too much sleep over these people.

But ministers do lose sleep over a special brand of critic: the Clergy Killer.

I wrote about CKs in my last article, highlighting three traits they all have in common:

*A CK is someone who strongly disagrees with the direction the pastor is taking the church.

*A CK is someone who collects the complaints of others.

*A CK is someone who seeks additional power in the church.

As I mentioned last time, I can only identify 15 CKs that I’ve known over 36 years of church ministry … and 5 of them were people who attacked my pastor when I was a staff member.

That means as a solo or senior pastor, I’ve only been attacked by 10 CKs … but one is far too many.

Let me share two additional traits of a CK:

Fourth, a CK is someone who makes a conscious decision to lead a charge against a pastor.

A CK isn’t just a critic or a complainer.  Those people can stay in a church for years and never become a CK.

A CK wants to destroy his or her pastor.

When is an attack by a CK most likely to occur?

According to research, between years four and five of a pastor’s tenure.

Why then?

Because by then, a pastor has clearly laid out the direction he wants his church to go.

The pastor’s agenda usually prompts two strong responses from parishioners: agreement or resistance.

Those who resist the pastor’s leadership at this point can go in one of two directions: either they choose to leave the church or they choose to stay and push out their pastor instead.

In my second pastorate, I had this happen to me right on schedule … between years four and five.

When CKs make the choice to force out their pastor, they will use any means at their disposal to get rid of him: threats … rumors … exaggeration … and clear cut lies.

In most cases … and this is going to be a strong statement … CKs believe that it’s permissible to commit evil actions as long as they eventually get rid of their minister.

This is why CKs must be identified and stopped … but only by using the twin weapons of truth and love.

As a wise man once said: beware lest in fighting a dragon, you become a dragon.

Finally, a CK is someone who will never admit that what they’re doing is wrong.

CKs are rightists … people who seek to control everyone around them … insisting that people – including their pastor – do church the way they want church done.

I know of a church that seems to be going down the tubes.  They have been looking for a new pastor for more than a year.  One of their conditions for any candidate is that the person agrees not to use contemporary music during worship.

How much do you want to bet that a CK is chairman of the search team?

The CKs I have known exhibit personality traits that tend toward narcissism, sociopathy, and paranoia.

Their narcissism tells them that they are superior to the pastor.  They don’t believe the pastor knows the right direction for the church … they do.

Their sociopathy tells them that they need to defeat the pastor to feel good about themselves.  The pastor can’t be reclaimed or restored … he must be obliterated.

Their paranoia tells them that they better “get” the pastor before the pastor “gets” them.  So the CK overreacts to every possible slight or offense, interpreting things the pastor says or does in the worst possible light.

What happens to a CK after their attack on the pastor?

Some stay in their church … but rarely repent.

Some leave their church … but only if the pastor can amass a supportive coalition that will confront the CK head-on.

Some are disciplined by the Lord … either through tragedy or death.

I take no pleasure in writing about CKs, but there is a place in Christ’s church for prophetic warnings, and I want to sound the alarm.

For you see, when I was a boy, several CKs banded together and pushed out my pastor.

Less than two years later, my pastor died.

That pastor was my father.

And not long afterwards, that church went out of existence.

What most Christians fail to understand is this:

An attack on your pastor is ultimately an attack on your church.

Never, ever join forces with a CK.

Instead, if you suspect someone is demonstrating the traits of a CK, confront them.  Expose them.  And defeat them.

This is the way of apostles like Paul and John and Peter and Jude.

And it needs to become our way in the 21st century as well.


This is the 250th article that I’ve posted since December 2010.  I used to think it was a good day if I had 25 views in a day.  Now I regularly receive 3 times that number, for which I praise God.

I’m not writing about issues for the general Christian public … I’ll let others address those things.

Instead, I want to write about topics that Christians think about but can’t find much guidance on.  I want to expose the dark side of the church to the light.

I literally have scores of topics I can write about … all I have to do is peruse the terms people type into their search engines to find my blog.

My Top 10 all-time most viewed articles are:

1. If You Must Terminate a Pastor (3 1/2 times more views than the second most-read article)

2. Pastors Who Overfunction

3. Secular Songs You Can Sing in Church, Finale

4. When to Correct a Pastor

5. Secular Songs You Can Sing in Church, Part 1

6. When You’re Upset with Your Pastor

7. Pastors Who Cause Trouble

8. Conflict Lessons from War Horse

9. Facing Your Accusers

10. Why I Love London

Like most writers, sometimes I write for myself, and other times, I write to shed light on a problem area.

I can never predict how many times a particular article will be read … but I’m grateful every time someone reads even one.

And that includes you, my friend.

Thanks for reading!

Check out our website at www.restoringkingdombuilders.org  You’ll find Jim’s story, recommended resources on conflict, and a forum where you can ask questions about conflict situations in your church.

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Have you ever seen the British TV show Whitechapel?

The show is about detectives in London’s East End who deal with gruesome murders committed by copycat killers who emulate famous criminals.  The first series deals with attempts by the detectives to detect and arrest a murderer who has been replicating the crimes of the infamous Jack the Ripper.

To find the murderer, the show’s three stars must examine crime scenes, check forensic evidence, interview those who knew the victims … and attempt to write a profile of the actual killer.

If they can create such a profile, they hope to stop more murders in the future.

Unfortunately, most churches have another kind of murderer in their midst … a clergy killer.

I first heard the phrase “clergy killer” 16 years ago when I attended a seminar for pastors and their wives.  On that occasion, I was given an article by G. Lloyd Rediger about this issue.

That same year, Rediger published his pioneer work Clergy Killers.

While I will use Rediger’s phrase in this article, the rest of the work is mine.

Over the course of 36 years in church ministry (4 churches as a staff member, 4 as a pastor), I have been able to identify at least 15 CKs in the 8 churches I served in.

*3 churches had 3+ CKs, while 3 others had none.

*Most CKs were men – by a 2-1 ratio.

*3 married couples in separate churches worked in concert to force out their pastor.

*3 were board members at the time they surfaced as a CK, while one was an office manager.

*2 of the 15 died of heart attacks at inopportune times.

Clergy killers are not simply chronic complainers … or those who disagree with leadership decisions … or those who get mad and leave a church.

No, clergy killers are self-appointed individuals who are on a mission to get rid of their pastor … and they will use any means at their disposal to accomplish their goal.

What is the profile of a clergy killer?  Here is a composite from my experience:

First, a clergy killer is someone who strongly disagrees with the direction the pastor is taking the church.

These are complaints I’ve heard over the years (some were directed at the pastors I worked for, some at me):

“The music on Sunday mornings is awful.”

“The church doesn’t do enough with the denomination.”

“The pastor doesn’t work hard enough.”

“The church is mismanaging its money.”

“The pastor is lazy because he doesn’t teach enough during the week.”

“The pastor is too focused on the needs of the unchurched and not the congregation.”

“This church is not run enough like a business.”

After each complaint, add the phrase, “And it’s all the pastor’s fault … so he needs to go.”

A person doesn’t qualify as a CK because they mentally toy with these thoughts, or because they share them privately with their spouse or a friend.

No, a person becomes a CK because they boldly – even brazenly – begin to share their complaints with their network at church … almost indiscriminately.

And the upshot is that since the pastor is going in the wrong direction, he must be removed.

Second, a clergy killer is someone who collects the complaints of others.

The CK knows that his or her complaints aren’t enough to eliminate the minister.  They’re just opinions … and not impeachable evidence.

So the CK begins to contact churchgoers they suspect have their own complaints against the pastor … often after worship on Sundays.

The CK shares their complaints in hopes that (a) their compatriots will agree with them, and (b) share some of their own issues.

This gathering of grievances is wrong.

In fact, I’ll even go further: it’s sinful.

And if it continues, it’s downright satanic.

When I collect complaints from others, I encourage them to share their offenses with me.  In the process:

*I haven’t made any attempt at sharing my own feelings with the pastor so he can explain his position or make things right between us.

*I don’t encourage others who are upset with the pastor to speak with him directly … but with me instead.

*I’m using their complaints to build a case against the pastor in direction violation of Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:19-21.

*I’m not interested in a fair process or in reconciliation … I’m interested in becoming judge, jury, and executioner for my network.

One pastor calls this pooling of offenses “the bait of Satan.”

Here’s the interesting thing: the pastor often finds out who is doing the complaining as well as the nature of at least some of the complaints anyway.

Years ago, when a CK went after me, he began making calls to people who had left the church, suggesting that they left because of me.

One woman vehemently denied that I was the reason she left … and proceeded to tell me what was going on … which was exactly the right thing to do.  Her call provided evidence that a CK was at work in our midst and allowed church leaders to construct a strategy to force him out instead.

Just remember: if the CK had one clear-cut spiritual/moral felony to report about the pastor … like denying the deity of Christ … or an illicit sexual relationship … or stealing money from the offering plate … that might be sufficient to push out the pastor.

But because the CK can’t produce evidence of such felonies, the CK tries to pile up a host of lesser offenses instead … hoping the sheer volume of complaints will be enough to compel the pastor to leave.

And that is not the work of God.

Third, a clergy killer is someone who seeks additional power in the church.

The CK feels that he or she is superior to the pastor … smarter than the pastor … and more connected with the congregation.

Because the CK has an inflated view of their greatness, they believe that they know what’s best for the church … and that the pastor does not.

As I think about those who were CKs in previous ministries, they fall into two categories: those who had a church position and wanted greater authority, and those who did not have a church position but felt they deserved one.

The majority of CKs I have known fall into the latter category.

Some of them had once been on the church board but had not been asked to serve again, which made them resentful over time … especially when they noticed who did get onto the board.

Some of them taught a class or held a leadership role, but felt they deserved more authority because they alone knew what was best for the church.

The truth is that most CKs feel powerless in life.

Maybe they no longer wield the power they once did at work … or the government is after them … or they’re not getting along with their spouse … and they sense they can regain a measure of control if they seize power at church.

Some CKs were even called to the ministry earlier in life … and rejected that call … but still wish to be the Protestant Pope of their congregation.

If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering, “Jim, does this stuff really happen in churches or are you exaggerating to make a point?”

No, it really happens.  In fact, 25% of all pastors have been forced out of church ministry by CKs at least once.

Know anybody who fits this profile so far?  (I hope not.)

I’ll finish up next time.

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