As a candidate being interviewed by a church that was without a pastor, I was of the opinion that if the church called me, they really wanted me as their new pastor. My wife and I visited the church for a weekend and met with the search committee and several other members. I had little knowledge of the history of the church or the reasons why the former pastor left.
I had presented to the search committee my philosophy of ministry and found them agreeable. When they called me to be their pastor, the search committee suggested I contact the former pastor. I did and he assured me that the church leaders were very capable men. Upon his recommendation, I accepted the invitation to be their pastor. Since the church had been without a pastor for two years they were anxious to have us start as soon as possible.
For the next two years, I worked hard at shepherding the congregation. New people were attending and several were added to the rolls of the church. The Sunday morning came for receiving the new members and a reception was planned for them that evening. I later learned that following the reception, the church conducted a secret meeting in which complaints and concerns regarding my ministry as pastor were voiced to the leaders.
The next day I received a call from one of the leaders asking to meet with me to talk. When we sat down together, I was informed of the list of complaints from the congregation and found myself speechless. I asked for a day to consider what had been shared, and then if I could meet with the leadership. I told them I would be willing to address each complaint if that would help. They refused saying they did not want to take sides. I should have seen then the handwriting on the wall for me – it was time to move on.
At that time, I sensed that I was not the pastor that congregation wanted. Three things became apparent.
First, I needed to examine myself personally and professionally with my spouse’s input.
Second, I needed to find ways to address the issues and seek God-honoring solutions with or without the leadership of the church.
Third, I had to face the fact that I was not the pastor that the congregation wanted and needed to begin the process of moving on, as painful as it was to me.