A Pastoral Horror Story

I heard a horror story yesterday. A large mega-church “hired” ten interns. One day before they were to finish their internships, they were all fired and none were given good recommendations. None. I said, “hired” in quotes because they were paid “slave wages” and worked long hours.

At another church, apparently a mega-church with a “high-energy” atmosphere, the youth pastor was also under what seemed abusive and under-paid pressure.

It get’s worse.

The youth pastor, afraid of thoughts of self-harm, checked himself into a hospital. He called his senior pastor, both to tell him where he was and why he was not on the job but also to receive his (the Senior Pastor’s) counsel and pastoral care. His pastor (sic) told him not to worry and that his desk and office would be cleared out and his responsibilities given to another. 

These kind of stories make me angry.

They make me grieve. They make me mourn and lament the state of the church. They make me weep for the pastors and young men and women who are so mistreated by leaders, pastors, elders and deacons. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. But it does. Too frequently and always scandalously and to the detriment of the corporate witness of the Church. And often, the result is discouraged leaders, male and female, disillusioned husbands and wives, wounded and broken by the short-sighted decisions of power brokers in the the church more interested in their agenda than the Lord’s.

Larry Osborne is fond of saying something like “Launch your Eagles; don’t ground them.”

Here’s my plea, care for your young leaders. Nurture them. Affirm them. Give them opportunity. Limit your criticism to areas of character and essential doctrines. Give them wings. Treat your young leaders and interns as favored sons and daughters. See them as the arrows you will shoot into the future to make an impact long after you are gone from the scene. They aren’t free labor or cheep labor to push your agenda. They are young Eagles to equip for a life-time of ministry for your King not your fiefdom or fame.

One thought on “A Pastoral Horror Story

  1. Brought over from Facebook:

    Eli Savill
    Wow that’s horrible! I know that pain.

    Jesse Ryan
    That’s messed up dude, how is this legal.

    Terry Ivy
    Heartbreaking and more prevalent than we can imagine.

    Marty Schoenleber Jr
    Terry Ivy , too true my brother.

    MarySue Laird Wilson
    While I wouldn’t call it abuse, I was not treated well by my field supervisor while on my unpaid ministry internship in college. I walked away from paid ministry at that point.

    David Brandt
    Very sad situations you’ve described Marty. THANKS for bringing it to our attention.
    VERY important for the Body of Christ to be aware of this abuse.

    Jesse Ryan
    Marty Jr Schoenleber there are federal laws that protect people when they have a mental health episode in a job. It allows them to go to treatment and still keep there paid positions. Why is this not the case with pastoral paid internships? Also how can someone like me, who is a congregation member have an affect on pastoral abuse?

    Martin Klauber
    Being a pastor is a very public position and it seems like everyone in the church has their opinion. When a youth pastor is hospitalized or is struggling the path of least resistance is to let them go. When any pastor struggles and it becomes known we tend to just dismiss them and hope they go away. Even John Calvin got fired in Geneva and they escorted him out of the church with armed guards. The problem is that the church is made up of flawed people. You are not wrong and I wish it could be different. But since you minister to pastors you have a chance to do something. May God bless you and your ministry

    Coleman Luck
    The Days of the End.

    Marty Schoenleber Jr
    Coleman Luck, I tend to agree my friend. There are many fantastic churches, but there are a growing number of cowards, abusers, and apostates in amidst pulpits, elders and other church leaders as well. The former outnumber the latter but one wonders for how long based on experience.


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