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

  1. #1

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

    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 service . The founder / lead pastor who is in his mid to late 70's is in Guatemala for a short mission trip checking in on the work our church has done there . Large non denominational church , no board or deacons or anything like that . I guess no one at all knew . He has been here at this church for 20-30 years . Much beloved by everyone he touches . He guided my family thru dark times and baptized my daughter . I was there for him when he lost his wife to cancer 2 years ago . And now with little explanation he is gone . Gave a very short non descript statement and is gone . I dont know the details of the statement . But it certainly wasnt an explanation . Does a pastor owe his flock anything more than this ? I'll admit I'm shocked and hurt , long night last night , couldnt sleep , was thinking about it all night .
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    UKMustangFan's Avatar
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    I would say no.

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    Jumper_Dad's Avatar
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    I was blindsided like this once many years ago. I was not involved in the inner workings of our church and had no idea pastor was leaving until he announced it a few weeks before he was to leave.
    Methodist Church handles these things much differently, so it's not and apples to apples comparison.

    If he is leaving for personal (not church related) reasons, then he probably doesn't "Owe" an explanation. If he is leaving due to "Church" reasons, then IMO yes he does owe some explanation...even though it would be tough.

    If you have a personal relationship with him away from Church, then I'd reach out to him as a friend...not a church member.

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    spindoc's Avatar
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    I think in a service profession that it's just common courtesy to those folks who you've forged relationships with, and who have also put money in your pocket, that you humbly explain why you won't be serving them any longer. When I sold my practice a few years ago, I sent a letter to every patient explaining my decision and how the coming transition would be handled. Just good practice. Did I "owe" them that? I'd say yes.

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    Voice of Reason's Avatar
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    If there is a church related reason he is leaving, the church leadership owes you an explanation - not the pastor who is leaving. The leadership of the church and the departing pastor should have discussed why he is leaving and how to handle this.

    What if this pastor plans to become pastor at another church 5 miles down the road, or start a new church? In that case, I believe it would be bad form for him to tell the congregation, "Hey, I will be the lead pastor down the road next month."

    I also think if you trust and respect the pastor who is leaving, then you should trust and respect his judgment on how to handle his departure.

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    Thanks for the responses , I'm so blind sided I cant think clearly. This seems entirely out of character for the pastor leaving, the good ole rumor mill says he has retained legal counsel about getting around a " non compete " clause in his contract . ( Don't shoot me i'm the messenger in this mess ) Hate the whole thing when church unity is a common topic at our place .

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    Randy Parker's Avatar
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    Definitely yes.

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    Jumper_Dad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manitoudan View Post
    Thanks for the responses , I'm so blind sided I cant think clearly. This seems entirely out of character for the pastor leaving, the good ole rumor mill says he has retained legal counsel about getting around a " non compete " clause in his contract . ( Don't shoot me i'm the messenger in this mess ) Hate the whole thing when church unity is a common topic at our place .
    Sounds like he is branching out with his own church. That type of thing happened several times in this community about 10-15 years ago and several new churches seemed to spring up out of no where. We had several congregations split nearly in half when it happened. In nearly every case it was a very large church that had the issue. In some cases it was over Biblical interpretation, in some it was about church politics and in others it was a clash of personalities. In all cases it was bad but all of the churches both the new and old are all doing well a decade plus later.

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    doomer's Avatar
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    I would think he has a responsibility to give notice befitting the position. I am a Christian, but I have trouble buying into the business of the church although I admit it is necessary when there is that much money changing hands, and there are large capital assets involved.

  10. #10
    theguru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Parker View Post
    Definitely yes.
    I am with RP on this one, not because I know much about this topic, but because my time in law enforcement gave me special access to some situations where pastors left a church.

    I won't say it was the majority of times, but it was more than just one or twice that a pastor was forced out for one reason or the other and no one wanted to talk about it for various reasons.

    I will give one example, in one case a pastor was hanging out at the Rest Area looking for sex and the pastor in question got transferred to another church. It was kept very hush hush and it makes me wonder how much churches cover up.

    Sorry to take this in a negative direction but based on my experience the answer is definitely YES!

  11. #11
    Bengal Maniac's Avatar
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    I am not sure he owes you anything unless you have given him salary in advance. If he has served the position and performed to the expectations of the salary and job, then that is all he legally owes you.

    Morally, as is stated, it depends. Personally, if someone doesn't want to be employed or be there anymore, my experiences are you get less than expected. It doesn't matter, if he doesn't want to be there, I don't want him doing the job he is being paid. I don't care how good he is. I may still be friends, acquaintances, restaurant buddies with him, but not my pastor.

  12. #12
    ThrillVille Cardinal51's Avatar
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    Dang man our pastor told the church at the member meeting yesterday as well. He gave broad strokes, and I'm cool with the explanation he gave. It's human nature to want to know every detail I think, so I'm fighting the urge to read into anything or over analyze.


    I believe that it was the best decision for him and the church going forward.

    As long as the decision was made in thoughtfully(and this was) it'll ultimately glorify God.

    Still really stinks though.

  13. #13
    plantmanky's Avatar
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    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.

  14. #14
    mountain ref's Avatar
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    I would think a good pastor would say why.

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    Science Friction's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theguru View Post
    I am with RP on this one, not because I know much about this topic, but because my time in law enforcement gave me special access to some situations where pastors left a church.

    I won't say it was the majority of times, but it was more than just one or twice that a pastor was forced out for one reason or the other and no one wanted to talk about it for various reasons.

    I will give one example, in one case a pastor was hanging out at the Rest Area looking for sex and the pastor in question got transferred to another church. It was kept very hush hush and it makes me wonder how much churches cover up.

    Sorry to take this in a negative direction but based on my experience the answer is definitely YES!
    Pretty common in our area. There have been several down around 312 on the Laurel/Whitley line that have been exposed exposing themselves and engaging in man on preacher pleasure. One of the dirty Lord Lobbyists even committed suicide after his filthy , hypocritical inclinations came to light. Now, in cases like this I'd say the preacher owes the congregation an explanation. The one who put a gun to his head opted out of giving an explanation.

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