I realize this article is not going to go over well with most preachers. I realize this article will be used in the wrong direction. I realize that this article might even backfire upon me. In spite of all this realization, I realize I have to be honest in the age we are living.
Churches are amazing institutions. They generally are made of people from varied backgrounds and structures. A healthy Church is one that has been built by the natural outreach of evangelistic appeal. In other words, the general healthy Church is not a grand pa that has gathered in his kids, grandkids and a bunch of cousins. But while it is a healthy Church that is made up of such a variety, it is also easier to control. It is easier for the Lord to control, but it is also easier for a pastor to control. Even a rotten pastor.
A man can be called to take a Church. The people have heard him a couple of times and he "sure preached good!" He is not too young and he is not too old. He is a pretty good looking fellow and his wife is just good enough looking not to be a target of jealous women. The Church feels they have gotten a good deal.
But within the next year or two, he begins to do things that have never been done by any former pastor. He allows the music to get rocky. He relaxes the dress code that the Chruch always preached. He has announced that he will begin using the NIV in the pulpit, "so that the young people can know what God says." His wife shows up in a pair of walking shorts on Sunday night, and he wears his on Wednesday night. Now mind you, he has not changed doctrinely. He assures you that he holds the same doctrines that the Church does.
It becomes evident that some of the older members are dropping out of Church. There is some shuffling in the paid and unpaid staff. Something seems to be a little different in the atmosphere of services, but it is hard to pinpoint the difference. What is coming out of the pulpit is not solid, toe stomping preaching, but some ambient smooth ramblin about easing up on Biblical definites and focusing on getting more hurting people through the door. "We need to spend less time naming sin, and more time helping people find their way to a spiritual comfort zone."
The saddest part of this process is that the encroaching pastor has the attitude that he has a right to change the spiritual structure of a Church. No man has that right at least without prior notice. In other words, he should have made his intentions known when he accepted the call. "Wait a minute!" You say. The Pastor is supposed to lead the people. Yes, but not blindly and not unwillingly. and Certainly not contrary to truth.
So we have wound up with a sneaky, rotten preacher. How do we get rid of him?
First we must make sure he is a sneaky, rotten preacher and not the Man of God. You are getting yourself in deeper trouble than you want to be in if you are trying to get rid of God's Man for your Church. If he is leading the Church to be closer to God and farther from the world. If he is leading the Church to get into the Word of God. If he is leading the Church to get on the stick of winning the lost then he probably is not a sneaky, rotten preacher. His messages may be rotten but he is not and his ministry is not. Just pray that his messages will get better.
Ok! Down to the rotten business of getting rid of a rotten preacher. This is not a fun job and every nerve of your body will be struck as you embark on this heart wrenching task. But be assured, it must be done.
The first thing and most important thing is to get God on your side and make sure you are on God's side. Pray and pray hard! Write out a list of grievences about what is happening to your Church and why you believe that it is being harmed. Make an appointment with the Pastor and let him know that you are troubled by what is happening in your Church. Give him a chance to express what he wants to about the situation. You may be surprised to find out that most of the stuff is not really his fault and that he is as troubled as you are. That would be a rare thing, but just in case.
Give things a week or so to take effect. If nothing happens to indicate a return to normalcy, then ask God to bring a second person, preferrably a pillar member of the Church to go with you and make another appointment with the Pastor. Both of you relate your concerns to the pastor and wait a couple more weeks.
Next, ask the executive deacon if he is comfortable with the way the Church is being led. If he is not ask him to call a meeting of the deacons/trustees with or without the pastor to discuss the directions that the Church is being led. If there is an agreement among the leaders that something needs to be done to put the Church back on course then the officers should confront the Rotten Pastor about the happenings and concern. He should be expected to clarify what he intends to do about the situation.
After those two weeks, if nothing changes, then the elected officers should be allowed to be heard at the next business meeting. If your Church doesn't have regular business meetings, then something already is not right. Anyway, at the next business meeting demand that you be given an opportunity to express your concern about the direction that your Church has taken in the last few months...... My next statement is key! If the majority of the Church does not favorably respond to your concerns, then you need to pack your baggage and get out of that Church immediately. Do not sow discord. Do not try to get more followers... get out!
If the majority of the Church responds positively to your concerns. In other words, others begin to voice concern, then the preacher has to respond to their combined voices. He must agree to repair damaged areas of the ministry or submit his resignation on the spot. The Constitution and by-laws of the Church should give the elected officers power to call for the rotten pastor's resignation. If the by-laws require a vote, then the Officers have the right to call a special business meeting for the purpose of confirming or dismissing the rotten pastor.
If the pastor retains his position by hook or crook then begins the awful mess of getting rid of a rotten pastor.
There probably already has been members who have left the Church and have not been heard from since. See if you can find them. Organize an alternate meeting of your Church. Call it that up front. Keep a copy of the by laws and constitution of the Church you are maintaining, so that there is no question of starting or being part of a new Church. Pray! Make the grieviences public. Find as many disconnected but faithful members as possible. Announce regular meetings. Notify each of the disconnected members that they must attend the third Sunday Morning S.S. of every month at their Church because it is still their Church. The record of your attendance is very important. As your numbers grow it wont be long before your numbers will outnumber those who are faithful to the rotten preacher. As soon as you have enough then action must be taken. Remember it is rotten business, but it must be done. Call a business meeting of the alternate group. Elect a spokesman for your cause. Determine what action you plan to take against the rotten preacher. I don't reccommend legal action, but it may come to that. Approach a lawyer to get his legal advice.
Remember there must be more of you than them. Walk into the Church building on Monday morning, change the door locks and publically declare that the majority membership of the Church is taking back what is rightfully theirs. Allow the rotten preacher in to retrieve his personal items under supervision, then escort him to the door. Notify him that he has been sumarily fired and will receive the separation pay due by the constitution of the Church. Hopefully the matter will come to an end right there. Give the man reasonable time to relocate and move out of any Church owned properties.
If further legal action follows, remember legally, the majority rules in Church business. Active Church members have legal rights. Defend your rights to your Church.
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