February 7, 2013

Not the Pastor We Wanted – A Story

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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.

search committeeI 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.

leaving through doorThe 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.