Posts Tagged ‘secret meetings to terminate a pastor’

There’s a scene in the new James Bond film Spectre where the British spy sneaks into a meeting filled with international villains and thugs shrouded in shadows.  Though he has to run for his life after being discovered, Bond gains valuable information he could never have gathered otherwise.

That scene made me wonder: what if a faction of seven people in a medium-sized church held a secret meeting designed to create a strategy for forcing out their pastor … and two church leaders watched the whole meeting on a hidden camera?


“The meeting will now come to order,” Greg confidently proclaimed.  Greg was the leader of sports ministries for Brookside Church.

“Many of us have felt for a long time that Pastor Ben is not the right man for this church.  Over the past few months, several friends have come up to me after the service and said that they don’t like Ben’s preaching.

“In addition, a lot of us are really upset that Ben dismissed Pastor Scott, who worked so well with our young people.  My kids really liked Scott a lot, and were very unhappy when he left.

“Those are just some of the concerns we have about Pastor Ben.  But before I start, let me introduce the others I invited to this meeting:

“You all know my wife Marie.  She’s been taking soundings from some of the women in her small group Bible study.

“Then there’s Max, one of our oldest members who has watched pastors here at Brookside come and go over the years.  Max is here to represent the seniors.

“I want to welcome Pete and Jo, who worked with the high school group under Pastor Scott.  They never saw any of the misbehavior that Ben claimed Scott was guilty of before he was let go.  They represent our youth.

“I’m glad that our Associate Pastor, Phil, could join us tonight.  He has worked with Ben for several years and doesn’t like the direction he’s taking the church.  Once Ben is gone, Phil is willing to step in and take over the leadership of Brookside.  He’s a much better leader and preacher than Ben.

“It’s also a privilege to have Arnold, one of the board members, with us this evening.  Arnold has witnessed Ben’s behavior firsthand in official meetings these past few years.  Because I’ve heard Arnold question several of Ben’s past decisions, I decided to approach Arnold, and he’s all in with us.

“So let’s go around the room.  I want to hear why each one of you believe that Pastor Ben needs to leave our church … the sooner the better.”


With an expertise in surveillance that no one knew about, Arnold decided to accept Greg’s invitation to attend the meeting as a “double agent” and hide a small camera on his clothing where it couldn’t be detected.

His aim?  To expose Greg and his cohorts by recording the entire meeting … even if such a practice was illegal.

The camera fed pictures and sound directly to the computer of Steve, the worship pastor, a loyal supporter of Pastor Ben’s.  Brandon, another board member, watched the proceedings with Steve in his home office … all without Pastor Ben’s knowledge.  (The two leaders wanted to give the pastor deniability.)

When Greg started soliciting grievances against Pastor Ben, Brandon leaned over to Steve and whispered, “Did I miss something, or did they neglect to start the meeting with prayer?”  Steve whispered back, “You’re right.  How could God ever bless what they’re doing?”


Greg asked his wife Marie if she would keep a list of everyone’s grievances.  Marie asked, “Should I write down who made the complaints?”  Greg quickly responded, “No, that information won’t be necessary.  We’re just trying to pile up charges.”

Pete and Jo decided to go first.  Jo began, “As you all know, Scott was here just eighteen months.  Our two kids really liked the way he ran the youth group.  He had them doing service projects and always had time to listen to their problems.  I don’t know why Ben fired Scott, and I don’t really care.  My kids loved to come to church when Scott was here.  Now they won’t come at all, and they blame it all on Pastor Ben.”

(Back at Steve’s office, Steve said to Brandon, “Pete and Jo’s kids probably came to church once a month when Scott was here, if that.  They may have loved him, but not enough to show up on a regular basis.”)

Greg responded, “Sounds like Ben doesn’t care about the youth.  If he did, he would have kept Pastor Scott on because it’s hard to find a good youth man.  In fact, Ben should have been the one to leave!  Marie, write down that Ben doesn’t care about the youth.”

(Brandon turned to Steve and said, “You know why Ben fired Scott.  It’s because Scott was hired to work full-time and he didn’t even work half that time.  Ben warned him over and over … and kept the board informed … but Scott refused to change.  He deserved to be canned.”)

Max, representing the seniors, was next.  He said, “You know, Pastor Ben supposedly visits people when they’re in the hospital, but I don’t think that’s true.  Two months ago, I went in for some tests on my heart and had to stay overnight.  I kept waiting for Ben to visit me, but he never did!  Another senior said that Ben never visited him in the hospital, either.”

(Steve said to Brandon, “Ben didn’t visit Max because he was on vacation!  Ben asked me to do hospital visitation while he was away, so I visited Max, but he neglected to mention that fact.”)

Marie asked her husband, “What should I write down, Greg?”  Greg thought for a moment and then said, “Put down that Ben doesn’t care about the seniors of this church … or about people who are sick.”

Greg went fishing again.  He asked Marie, “Tell the others what you told me about Ben’s daughter Lacey last night.”

Marie replied, “Remember how Lacey was going out with Jeff, whose parents run the Guest Ministry?  I heard from a reliable source that Jeff broke up with Lacey because she was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.”

Greg exclaimed, “Oh, brother!  That’s two charges right there!  First, Marie, write down that Ben can’t manage his family because his daughter got pregnant, and then write down that Ben is immoral because he tried to cover up the fact that his daughter planned to kill her baby.”

(Steve and Brandon, watching this horror show unfold on Steve’s computer, couldn’t believe their ears.  Steve told Brandon, “That’s a flat-out lie, and Pastor Phil knows it.  Ben told us in a staff meeting one day why Lacey and Jeff broke up.  It’s because Jeff was pressing her to have sex with him, and she told him she was only going to have sex after marriage.  Why doesn’t Phil speak up and say something?”)

Coincidentally, it was now Phil’s turn to knife his pastor.  Phil said, “I never liked Ben from Day One.  There was just something about him that I couldn’t connect with.”

Phil proceeded, “My main concern about Pastor Ben is that he doesn’t listen to our ideas.  I’ve told him over and over that I don’t agree with his emphasis on reaching out to people in our community.  After all, those people aren’t attending our church, and they aren’t paying the bills!  Why should we focus our attention on people who aren’t here?  We need to focus on the Christians who come here instead!”

Phil’s outburst caused everyone in the room to nod their heads in agreement.  “Our people come first,” Greg added.

(Brandon said to Steve, “This is hard to watch.  What about Jesus’ Great Commission?  What about all the lost people around us who are hell-bound without Christ?  If Ben focuses just on our own people, the church will begin to die.”)

Greg then asked Marie, “Can you read back the charges against Ben so far?”

Marie listed six charges:

*He doesn’t care about the youth.

*He doesn’t care about seniors.

*He doesn’t care about the sick.

*He can’t manage his family.

*He stands for immorality.

*He doesn’t pay attention to our people.

This process continued throughout the evening.  Three hours later, the group had 17 charges against Pastor Ben … including two that intimated that Ben had mishandled church funds … both sure winners once they went public.  Now they had to decide what they were going to do with those charges.

Greg, who had done this sort of thing in two previous churches, gave the group a game plan:

“First, I think we need to talk up these charges throughout the church.  Over the next two weeks, slip a charge or two into your conversations with friends and family members.  Find out who else doesn’t like Ben.  We need to develop a larger critical mass before we can act.

“Second, we need Arnold to share these charges with anyone on the board who might be sympathetic.  Arnold, can you think of any of the seven board members that you can recruit to our cause?”  Arnold replied, “I think I can sway two members to our way of thinking.”  (Arnold played along even though he had no intention of harming Pastor Ben.)

Greg continued, “If we can win four of the seven board members to our side, it’s only a matter of time until Ben is toast.  But if the board protects him, we may need to meet with Ben ourselves as ‘concerned church members.’

“Third, I’ll call the district office and let Wayne, the district minister, know that there are many people here at Brookside who think that Pastor Ben should leave the church.  My experience is that Wayne will listen to my concerns … want to know some of the charges … and tell me that he’ll be praying for our church.  District guys tend to believe the first thing they hear, so if and when Ben calls him, he’ll probably believe us over Ben.  That’s an advantage for us.

“Fourth, let’s solicit more charges from people who have left the church.  Marie and Jo, why don’t you look through the directory, see who has left Brookside over the past year, give them a call, and find out why they left.  Then make a list of those charges and bring them here next week.

“Finally, we need to stay underground and yet stay aggressive.  Don’t tell anyone what our plan is.  Don’t tell anyone who is in this group.  Let’s just keep things among ourselves for now, agreed?”

Everyone nodded their heads.

Greg concluded the meeting by saying, “If you want to talk among yourselves, use your cell phones.  No texts … no emails … and no instant messaging.  If anyone learns anything new over the seven days, please call me on my cell and let me know.  Otherwise, we’ll meet here next week, same time and place.  Good night.”

(Even though it was a long evening, Steve and Brandon now knew the entire plan.  They planned to meet with Pastor Ben the next day … tell him about the plot … reveal the names of the plotters … and help Ben create either a counterattack or a solid defense.  Ben’s future and their future were intertwined.)

Let me make seven observations about secret meetings in churches:

First, secret meetings are called either by the church board or by a church faction.  They are almost always invitation-only.  The clandestine nature of the meeting makes group members feel powerful.  Secrecy is what binds everyone together.  Take out one “secret member” and the whole scheme might come crashing down.  The faction cannot afford to have anyone who disagrees with them present.  It would ruin the entire exercise.  It usually takes only seven to ten people to “take out” a pastor, regardless of church size.

Second, secret meetings aren’t called to investigate charges against a pastor.  They are called to create charges – true or untrue – and to pile up as many charges as possible.  The charges only need to seem plausible.  The sheer volume of charges is what’s most important.  How can a pastor even answer charge after charge?  He can’t … and that’s the idea.

Third, secret meetings by their very nature create false accusations.  The group meets to pile up charges, so accusations aren’t vetted.  The most plausible charges are assumed to be true.  If the group cared about truth, they would give the pastor their list in advance … along with the names of his accusers … and let him rebut them, one by one.  But they don’t want him to rebut the charges … they want him to be ensnared by them.

Fourth, secret meetings don’t begin with offenses the pastor has made against the congregation, but offenses he’s made against individual group members.  Personal gripes somehow morph into official charges.  In this case, seven people fool themselves into thinking that they’re speaking for 300 … and they’ll try and fool the pastor into believing that, too.

Fifth, secret meetings involve one-way charges.  Group members serve as judge, jury, and executioners.  The pastor doesn’t know what the charges are, or who is making them, so he can’t answer them.  By the time he hears about the charges … and he will only hear about a few … a sizable percentage of the congregation will believe them, and he will not be given any fair and just forum to defend himself.

Sixth, secret meetings are designed to enhance the power of people who currently feel powerless.  Pete and Jo wanted Scott to stay, but Ben made him leave.  Phil secretly wants to be the pastor, but he can’t be as long as Ben is around.  The plotters must include someone from the church board and/or staff, or they won’t be successful.  They need inside support.  Those who attend and participate in secret meetings are saying two things, loud and clear: “I want to have more power than the pastor, and I want to exact revenge upon him for marginalizing me.”

Finally, secret meetings are always about one thing: destroying the pastor’s reputation, position, and even career.  Group members convince themselves that they are meeting for the good of the church and to carry out God’s will.  But the truth is that in almost every case, they are meeting for their own good and to do Satan’s will.  They aren’t meeting in the light, but in the darkness.

I thought I’d end this article with the words of John the apostle from 1 John 2:9-11.  They fit this scenario so well.  Just replace the word “brother” with “pastor”:

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.  Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

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