Churches who fire without cause

"I am over the corporate practices so many American churches have adopted that run counter to basic biblical principles of leadership and Christian relationship." Churches who fire without cause

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G. N. Barkman's picture

So, let me get this straight.  The author's background suggests he approves and promotes the business model of church growth and leadership.  But he objects to employees being treated like employees of businesses?  I'm glad he's questioning some of the consequences of this model of church growth.  Do you suppose he will make the connection between pragmatic business models of growing churches, and the business model of hiring and firing employees?

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

It's worth noting that as businesses show people the door when they don't make numbers, they increasingly drive smart people away, and it's brutal when you're trying to get a product to market.  Just a killer on recruiting and retention, and everyone (per Jim) knows that when someone "resigned to pursue other opportunities", they were fired with a severance package to make them keep quiet. 

Same thing in churches, and it's good to see someone "getting" this.  Let's face it; most pastors face low wages, high stress, and the likelihood of being fired and moving every few years.  It's no surprise to see, then, so many former pastors working other jobs simply because they cannot afford to follow their calling.  Those who remain all too often bear the scars of how they were treated, and again, let's face facts; if you want to get second or third tier intellects in the pulpit, I can hardly think of any better plan.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Instead of assuming a dating attitude, perhaps prospective pastors and searching churches should lay everything out on the line and actually be honest with each other. When my former church was looking for a new senior pastor (after the last one got the boot), the elders didn't provide full disclosure with the new pastor during the search process, and the new pastor didn't provide full disclosure with the elders. Instead of full disclosure, everyone looked their best, said the right things, and didn't address areas that would later cause relational difficulties between the new pastor and the elders.

Actually, instead of the pastoral search process, why not bring up men who are being developed within the church to lead the church. Novel, I know.

dgszweda's picture

T Howard wrote:

Instead of assuming a dating attitude, perhaps prospective pastors and searching churches should lay everything out on the line and actually be honest with each other. When my former church was looking for a new senior pastor (after the last one got the boot), the elders didn't provide full disclosure with the new pastor during the search process, and the new pastor didn't provide full disclosure with the elders. Instead of full disclosure, everyone looked their best, said the right things, and didn't address areas that would later cause relational difficulties between the new pastor and the elders.

Actually, instead of the pastoral search process, why not bring up men who are being developed within the church to lead the church. Novel, I know.

 

I think some of this is due to pastors who are treating this as a job, instead of a relationship.  I am in the secular world and I treat my job interview as a relationship.  I have no problem with the company knowing my warts.  If they know them and they don't want to hire me, than it probably wouldn't have been a good job to be in. 

T Howard's picture

dgszweda wrote:
I think some of this is due to pastors who are treating this as a job, instead of a relationship.  I am in the secular world and I treat my job interview as a relationship.  I have no problem with the company knowing my warts.  If they know them and they don't want to hire me, than it probably wouldn't have been a good job to be in. 

Perhaps. I know for the pastor who eventually got hired by my former church, he saw the opportunity as a way to get out of a stagnant, rural small church and into a bigger suburban church. For the elders, the church had gone almost a year without a pastor and they were getting desperate to find someone. The man they chose wasn't the most qualified of the candidates and wasn't the most theologically astute, but he was the most liked.

Bert Perry's picture

The model is falling apart today, but per David Szweda's point, it's notable that IBM used to keep people for 30 years or so and make sure that as many managers as possible came from within the system.  In a vibrant and growing company, it's great, because it gives people an incentive to excel.   

The flip side--really as any IBMer or BJU grad can attest--is that it can also give birth to a rather "closed" system where groupspeak is encouraged.  So yes, it's a relationship--secular or church position equally--but at a certain point, you've got to have a number of concrete points of reference--the Fundamentals clearly expressed, the creeds, church constitution, statements of ministry philosophy--that you've got to implement and encourage as well.

One other point regarding relationship is that my profession (quality engineering) notes that most problem workers are not hired.  They are created by the system in which they work.   See Deming's 14 points and how urgently he encourages companies to train their workers in their system.  It is skills, it is a relationship, it is a system.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Steve Newman's picture

All the things describe in the article are true - in most cases, the hiring of a pastor is more like a shotgun wedding than a dating relationship. Churches can hide things from prospective pastors and pastors can be naive. I speak from experience, and was (at least somewhat unjustly) fired from a pastorate. The church is no longer in existence, so I believe I can speak clearly about this.

I was naive, and I was misled. I also wasn't very effective. The church had fired the pastor before me after 2 years, and I was fired after 2 years. The next pastor saw there was a family in particular that was the source of the issues and were allowed to get away with it.

But - God used it for good. The rest of the church left and started a vibrant fellowship, our family went to serve as lay people in another ministry and, eventually, God led us back to the pastorate in a much better way. I think Gen. 50:20 definitely applies here.

Bert Perry's picture

I saw a similar thing to what Steve notes at a church I was a member of about 20 years back.  There was a faction that each pastor ignored, and that faction eventually split the church (thankfully after we'd left) and killed it.  Building is now a mosque, sad to say.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.