Does a pastor owe the congregation an explanation when he leaves ?

Page 2 of I'm on vacation and got a message that our lead assistant pastor / worship director annouced very unexpectedly that he was leaving after yesterday am's... 20 comments | 691 Views | Go to page 1 →

  1. #16
    rockmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plantmanky View Post
    Asked my wife this question. Her church has went throigh several pastors in the past. She says no, its a job. As long as ample notice is given, no reason for leaving needs to be given.
    I agree with your wife.
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  2. #17

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    Every Pastor is different. Every reason is different.

    I have been a pastor of 4 churches in my ministry since 1985.

    In each I submitted a letter explaining where I was going, thanking them for their support and asking for their prayers on my journey.

    Baptists are autonomous. Each congregation is in charge of itself so it is different than being "placed" or "called" by a higher body.

    The one thing I have learned was to "inform" the church ahead of time if I am going to visit another church on a specific trip "in view of a call." (Pastoral speak for being voted upon and if I'm leaving you.)

    Most pastors keep it a secret until the deed is done and then it's like a bomb going off. A friend gave me a great example and I used it leaving my last church 17 years ago. I told them ahead of time that I was one of others being seen by a church and that I would be honest with them when it was time to be honest. After a couple of months I gathered my deacons together on a Wednesday evening and told them I was going to this church on Sunday and would know that evening if my future was still here or with them.

    I then told them to tell everyone else so that others would be aware.

    The result was it gave everyone over 10 days to settle into the transition. The bomb was diffused. It was the most positive departure I've ever had. I had one lady tell me, "It's the first time I didn't feel a pastor had committed church adultery on me."

  3. #18
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    It doesn't necessarily have to be a detailed one, but absolutely he should give an explanation along with a goodbye. Now if he is fired by the church board he might not be given that chance and that does happen.

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    @Hatz, I appreciate the integrity. Have you ever gone through the motions of "candidating" at another church, been upfront about that with the board and congregation and then didn't leave the church? It seems to me that once you say you are looking for ministry elsewhere you negatively effect the trust the congregation has in its leadership (you).

    One would assume that a church leader is seeking the Lord's will and perhaps the candidating weekend to the other church is the means the Lord uses to say, "You're work is not done at your current church." Now, because you told everyone, you have undermined (in some way) your leadership at the current church.

    I am not saying don't do it the way you did but I think a pastor can maintain his integrity and yet not tell the congregation that he is exploring other places of service. Once you are certain that you are leaving, you tell them then and give your notice. I am not Baptist, BTW.

    To the OP, I think if one is being pastoral, in other words concerned about the people he serves, he or she will give some communication to the congregation concerning the reason for leaving, after consulting with the head staff person. It may be that there are some things between the Lead Pastor and the Assistant (not being moral issues in question) and for the Assistant to make that known would undermine the authority of the Lead Pastor. That would be wrong. In that case, it is best to keep one's mouth shut. For instance, the Assistant Pastor and the Lead Pastor have different views of the direction and vision of the church or the ministry area led by the assistant. If the assistant can't work under that vision, the assistant should leave and not speak about the differences without the Lead Pastor's approval.

    I think the Lead Pastor owes the congregation an explanation. Perhaps when the Lead Pastor returns from visiting the mission field he will speak to the situation at your church.

    I will say, that this situation would not arise so easily in the church I am a part of. We have a Board of Elders (lay people and Sr. Pastor) and a denominational authority over the Lead Pastor and church that does not allow too much authority to be invested in any one person's hands.

    BTW, the pastor seeking another place of service should use his vacation to go on a candidtating weekend.

  5. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldgrappler View Post
    @Hatz, I appreciate the integrity. Have you ever gone through the motions of "candidating" at another church, been upfront about that with the board and congregation and then didn't leave the church? It seems to me that once you say you are looking for ministry elsewhere you negatively effect the trust the congregation has in its leadership (you).

    One would assume that a church leader is seeking the Lord's will and perhaps the candidating weekend to the other church is the means the Lord uses to say, "You're work is not done at your current church." Now, because you told everyone, you have undermined (in some way) your leadership at the current church.

    I am not saying don't do it the way you did but I think a pastor can maintain his integrity and yet not tell the congregation that he is exploring other places of service. Once you are certain that you are leaving, you tell them then and give your notice. I am not Baptist, BTW.

    To the OP, I think if one is being pastoral, in other words concerned about the people he serves, he or she will give some communication to the congregation concerning the reason for leaving, after consulting with the head staff person. It may be that there are some things between the Lead Pastor and the Assistant (not being moral issues in question) and for the Assistant to make that known would undermine the authority of the Lead Pastor. That would be wrong. In that case, it is best to keep one's mouth shut. For instance, the Assistant Pastor and the Lead Pastor have different views of the direction and vision of the church or the ministry area led by the assistant. If the assistant can't work under that vision, the assistant should leave and not speak about the differences without the Lead Pastor's approval.

    I think the Lead Pastor owes the congregation an explanation. Perhaps when the Lead Pastor returns from visiting the mission field he will speak to the situation at your church.

    I will say, that this situation would not arise so easily in the church I am a part of. We have a Board of Elders (lay people and Sr. Pastor) and a denominational authority over the Lead Pastor and church that does not allow too much authority to be invested in any one person's hands.

    BTW, the pastor seeking another place of service should use his vacation to go on a candidtating weekend.


    Certainly there is risk of "telling" what's happening. But to be honest I've only pastored 4 churches in my 32 years. The first was for 2 years and I left to spend the summer of '87 in the PRAXIS Program of the SBC and help lay the groundwork for a new church start. I went back that fall to "just be a student" at Southern but in late September another nearby church called me to be their pastor. I stayed their for almost 4 years. When I left it was over 2 years after I finished my MDiv and I think they were looking for me to leave at some point out of tradition. (Mine was actually the longest tenure in the church's history at that time.)

    I was at my last church for over 9 years (their longest tenure since the 50's) and I had stayed to minister there for nearly 4 years after my Doctorate.

    To be honest, if I am going in "pursuit of a call" to a church, my mind is made up. If they vote affirmative, I am going. If not, then I will have to encourage my present church that there must be something more that is left undone here and we need to work on it together. After 9 years, I think my former church would not have had a problem of my going in "view of a call" and then turned down. I think I had enough time and credibility to wade through any "hard feelings."

    The same would be true here. I've been at Chatham Heights for a full 17 years this summer. I have been here longer than any predecessor save one who was here 18. Again, I believe the church would respond positively either way a "move" occurred or didn't occur.

    I will give this story of a good friend who is a Music Minister.

    He was at one church for about 14 years. He thought he wanted or should go and pastor a bigger, more contemporary, growing church in a suburb of Richmond, VA. He went in view of the call and was voted in. He said good bye to his old church. But he never felt comfortable in the new calling. He never felt a peace about the whole thing at any point. Two months later he knew what he had to do. He resigned his current position at the new church and approached his old church humbly to see if they would consider "taking him back." He knew he had made a mistake and asked their forgiveness even if they wouldn't receive him.

    The old church quickly embraced him back and he still ministers there to this day. He's been there 28 years now.

    One of the keys, IMO, is always prepping your church to seek and find the will of God in what they are doing, where they are, where they are going. I think if you spend a long time making that a key component, the body of Christ is more prepared to meet these kinds of transitions and even rejections in a better way.

    Good to talk to you Oldgrappler.

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    Very cool, @Hatz!

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