Anatomy of a Church Coup

"For certain, no two coups are identical. Any type of examination or anatomy of a coup will always have exceptions and outliers. Our team at Church Answers has, however, seen patterns that are common to most coups. Here are some of the patterns." - Thom Rainer

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T Howard's picture

If you want to understand the dynamics involved in a church coup, read 2 Corinthians.

If you want to understand why pastors today get booted from their churches, you need to understand not only the anatomy of a church coup but also the ministry of the pastor getting booted. Of course, this is very situational---as Rainer admits. IMHO, Rainer's article takes the side/perspective of the pastor. We also need to understand the perspective of those who want the pastor removed.

To wit, I've known men who basically get tired of being in pastoral ministry (for various reasons) and begin to "phone it in." They may even start "borrowing" their sermons. Because they have no other marketable skills, they feel they are stuck. Instead of being honest with themselves and their church, they continue on in mediocrity. Should these men be removed from pastoral ministry?

I've known men who come to churches and see their pastoral role as "visionary" change agents. Instead of fostering relationships and building trust, they're most interested in building a larger ministry.  So, in the process, they hurt and alienate people, foster resentment, and cause people to disengage. Then, they complain that the church isn't following their leadership. These men usually end up frustrated and leave on their own, but if not, they continue their mission to transform the church after their own image. Should these men be removed from pastoral ministry?

Finally, I've known men who come to a church and either the church is blindsided or the man is blindsided by what is discovered after he arrives. In other words, the pastoral search process is often conducted like a blind date. Everyone is on their best behavior; everyone is beautiful, winsome, and loving. Then, the morning after, the makeup comes off and the crazy comes out. If this is true about the pastor, how should the church respond? Should he be removed from pastoral ministry?

All three of the above true scenarios would be considered a church coup according to Rainer. However, I would argue that there are times when the leadership of the church (i.e. elders) need to dismiss their teaching elder / pastor because of poor performance, differences in ministry philosophy, or because the pastor continues to violate agreed upon boundaries to his leadership.