Ethics: Pastor Leaves for a More Prominent Church

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What would you do Wednesday!

Today’s scenario is set in a congregational meeting. Regular church business took place including announcements, comments on church life, etc. The pastor has said he has a special announcement to make, but first the deacon chairman had a few words to share with the pastor.

The deacon begins, “Pastor, it has been a good eight years since you came to shepherd us. Last night, the deacon body and several other leaders in the church got together to pray over today’s meeting. We prayed for you and your family and discussed how thankful we are for you. We really hope that you lead us for many years to come. Thank you for the opportunity to serve with you. Now I think it’s time for that special announcement. Pastor?”

Nervously, the pastor moves to the microphone.

The pastor begins, “Church family, it has been a good eight years! God has blessed us during this time and that is what I am here to talk to you about. What I am about to tell you is not easy – a few weeks ago I received a call from Pastor Jones from ABC Baptist Church. ABC Baptist has been a prominent church in our association. However, as some of you may know, Pastor Jones is stepping down after 30 years at ABC; he’s retiring. Well…Pastor Jones has given me a great honor by asking me to fill his position as senior pastor at ABC.

After much prayer and discussion, I believe the Lord is calling me to be ABC’s senior pastor. This was not an easy decision nor announcement to make, but this seem like the appropriate time to share with everyone.

The deacon interrupts, “But Pastor, after last night’s two hour prayer meeting, we believe the Lord has called you here to lead…for many more years! Pastor, please consider that today many pastors lead and serve churches for their benefit rather than for the benefit of others. Please re-consider.”

What would you do?

  • As the pastor, how would you respond?
  • As part of the congregation, how would you respond?
  • Ask the pastor for a photo and autograph before he becomes too well-known? 🙂
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tagged as , in Church Issues,Culture

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allen Ray Mickle Jr. July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

Brings to mind John Fawcett’s invitation to pastor the Carter’s Lane congregation in London after John Gill died, and in the end decided to stay at his congregation in Wainsgate instead. Although, it also brings to mind Andrew Fuller’s decision to move from the little church in Soham to the larger more prominent church in Kettering. Hmm…

2 mburatov July 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

If the pastor is being led by the Holy Spirit, then he deserves my congratulations and prayers. If not, then he needs to be rebuked. As a member of the congregation, it is not by job to second-guess what the Holy Spirit is saying to the pastor. What is God saying to the church? Trust me. What should the pastor say? God has spoken and I must obey. Maybe I am naive, but it really seems that simple to me.

3 Mark July 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Allen, interesting bit of history. Hmm…is right.

mburatov, I get what you’re saying, but the deacons and other leaders believed prior to knowing the pastor’s plans to leave that the Holy Spirit was telling them their pastor should continue serving there. So, who is second guessing – the pastor or the deacons?

4 Mark McIntyre July 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I’ve really been questioning the “bigger is better” method of grading churches. There is a danger in thinking that the pastor of a church of 2,000 people is more effective than a pastor with 50 people. The real question is what is behind the pastor’s desire to take the larger church. I’ve been in big churches that have no body life but a great preacher. I’ve been in small churches with great body life with a mediocre but sincere preacher. I’ve grown more in the churches with better body life. Bigger isn’t always better.

5 alanmcdougall July 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

I would listen to the Deacons, one must verify a calling through two or three witnesses, however, the Deacons might have a personal agenda for keeping the Pastor, so if I were he, I would go to neutral Christian of excellent repute to also ask them to pray for confirmation of my calling to the other church

Double Check so to speak

Alan

6 Daniel July 19, 2012 at 12:21 am

Allen,

I’m not familiar with John Fawcett’s decision process, but I do know a little bit about Andrew Fuller’s situation. Fuller began pastoring the church in Soham as a Hyper-Calvinist but quickly became convinced that the Bible taught evangelical Calvinism. The church disagreed, and they were uncomfortable with his open invitations for sinners to believe the gospel. They also intentionally paid him so little that he had no choice but work other jobs, which prevented him from pursuing his desire to preach evangelistic sermons in the surrounding villages. Fuller did not want to leave the church at Soham, but the church’s resistance to his proclamation of the gospel made it necessary. He did not leave for prominence but for the gospel.

It’s also worth noting that after Fuller became famous around England, many influential people tried to convince him to move the headquarters of the Baptist Missionary Society from Kettering to London, but he refused.

7 Nathan July 19, 2012 at 11:14 am

Perhaps starting the process of church discipline on the pastor would be in order? Hopefully there are other elders in the church.

8 Mark July 19, 2012 at 11:38 am

Nathan, now that would be an interesting approach to this situation. I imagine there are atleast a few pastors who have left one church for another where the congregation did not expect them to leave.

9 allenmickle August 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Daniel,

I am aware of the details of Fuller’s situation you mentioned. I intended to be a little simplistic about it, because finances were part of the issue and Fuller could have rightly stayed in Soham despite the opposition.

.

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