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The damage of congregations ‘firing’ pastors

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I am about to share a rather provocative blog piece. I share it because I think it is important for all congregations to know this reality of the other side of a difficult parting with a pastor. Ministers don’t readily talk about the pain of this if they have experienced it (I have), partly because it just sounds like complaining and sour grapes after the fact. In sharing this, I am not directly accusing Nobleford CRC of doing this or being a “clergy killer” (language used in the linked article), but I also cannot pretend that what is described in the article has nothing to do with what transpired here. It is simply something I believe you should know.

A pastor serves a congregation. Congregations are filled with people who each have their own list of things they expect a pastor to be like and a pastor to do. Those will not be the same for any two people. That means a LOT of expectations are placed on that one pastor. Yet we all agree that the Pastor’s main “boss” is God. Few would object to that, I think. Problem is, if there are 300 people in the congregation they tend to act like 200 bosses (because maybe 100 don’t care too much either way) of the pastor. They do that because they forget the principled statement we all agree to, and/or they believe they themselves are speaking ‘for’ God. When that process goes sideways, goes off the rails, we get the trainwrecks and pain the article speaks of. Being let go from a church is very very personal and very very public, in a way that does not apply to any other job, career or calling I can think of. It involves a person’s spiritual, emotional, psychological, personal self, really all of the person, and so is a shock and hardship at all levels. The article speaks of various aspects of this.

The start of a solution is for church leaders, especially Elders – as support and accountability for the pastor – to learn to ‘see’ how people try to inappropriately make themselves ‘the boss’ of the pastor (Elders sometimes do it too) in a way that displaces what God is calling the Pastor to do. Having seen how this works, they can then help work counter to that sin. Those who are heavily invested in having power over what the Pastor does as a leader have very very subtle and sneaky and nasty ways of disrupting things, so it is not easy to spot.

Anyway, here is the article: http://wp.me/P3etrg-fY

 

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Anxiety in the preservationist church system

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Warning. This is probably the most complex and longest posting to date, one which ties a number of things I have talked about before together. It will take some time to read and digest. Be prepared to invest that.

This posting is very important, particularly for anyone in leadership. In the blog posting I take some small matters related to practices or the way we do things like preaching, worship and Lord’s Supper and attempt to show how I see them as issues that arise because we’ve lost a principled Reformed way of shaping worship and have in fact fallen into simply keeping and maintaining what was done before. All of that to the detriment of making room for God to grow us spiritually, emotionally, and personally in relationship to him and each other. Here is the actual posting: http://wp.me/P3etrg-eb

Fair question deserving an honest answer

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I have in the past and recently been asked a question about the Catechism that I think it is worth risking an honest personal answer to, so that is what my blog posting this week is about.

You can read it by clicking here or by following this link: http://wp.me/P3etrg-6t

For a printable version, use this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3c9pf84lhnn3251/Why%20I%20and%20maybe%20others%20no%20longer%20preach%20the%20catechism%20-%20final.pdf

To hear audio of me reading the blog page, click here (it may take a minute to load). This probably works best if you have the words in front of you and follow along.

Plans are in  the works to turn these into videos to make it easier for people to access and understand what I’m trying to say.