What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Recently my wife Donna traveled to SoCal to visit her elderly mom. While there she picked up a copy of the local free Christian newspaper. Over the weekend she called my attention to two articles. One of the articles pointed out that about 1,400 pastors leave the ministry each month because they have been terminated by their congregation or denomination losing their homes, friendships and their dignity. This displacement is often caused by a few core families within the church. The article suggested that one third of all pastors are in congregations where the previous pastor was terminated or forced out. That is mind boggling! Some suggest that there are approximately 375,000 churches in USAmerica. With that number in mind that would mean that 125,000 pastors have been terminated. Even if the church number is wrong and it is smaller the amount of pastors being terminated (some for due cause I would assume) is incredible.

In the same issue there was an article about the “synod sizes control and places pastors on leave” from Hollywood Presbyterian Church. This action by the synod followed complaints from about 40 of the 2,700 member church while two-thirds of the elders and a majority of the church members disagree with the synod’s actions, it happened just the same.

What’s wrong with this picture? Sure we can get mad at the so called “institutional” church and blame it for this great injustice. I would suspect however that most in the “emerging” church will find no difference in the way they will be treated as pastors. The problem is not institutions the problem is people. So do we get angry at people that perpetrate such actions against pastors?

Over the course of my ministry life I have been shoved aside by two congregations using the demonization to get the results they wanted and one senior pastor who told me he had received a prophecy that I had to leave his mega church staff. What was my reaction? Anger, of course. But, I soon found out that such a reaction was not healthy nor beneficial in continuing my journey.

I now set in the winter of my life sometimes wondering what might have been if these three events had not occurred. But, they did, and no amount of wondering what could have been will be helpful. What I have discovered is that God takes all the events of life, positive and negative, and uses them to form us. So what can I do about 125,000 terminated ministers? I don’t know, but I have begun the process of thinking and praying for my own responsibility in light of my own history to this group of needy men and women.

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