Forced Exits – Musical Pulpits

Neshaminy Creek, Bucks County, PA

Why write this post?

I could give more, but I will limit myself to five reasons.

  1. I know of too many good men who have been forced out of positions for non-biblical reasons.
  2. In my ministry to pastors, I have felt and seen the pain and devastation of these men and their families due to harsh and un-biblical judgments of deacons, elders or, much less frequently, congregations.
  3. Because forced exits of pastors, from a myriad of studies, has CONCLUSIVELY shown that they are ALMOST ALWAYS detrimental to the churches and pastors alike.
  4. Because forced exits are a scandal on the church and undermine the witness of the local church.
  5. Because forced exits are a discouragement to the body of Christ and a hinderance to the spiritual growth of Christian brothers and sisters.

“What must a pastor do to fulfill his duty when pressure to resign builds? Above all he should place the church’s interests ahead of his own when evaluating the matter of staying or leaving.” 

Musical Pulpits, by Rodney J. Crowley, p. 36

The following chart summarizes an article by Howard V. Pendley III, titled “Forced Terminations” that outlines reasons a pastor might be given to force his resignation and appropriate responses he might make. It is important that pastors maintain a position of humility when accused. After all, we are human and our judgers may have seen something for which we either need to repent of or adjust to for better ministry going forward. 

Reasons Given Why Pastor Should Resign

Responses Which You Should Consider
“Many members are unhappy with your ministry”Who? How many? Call for a vote.
“Many have said they won’t attend or give as long as
you’re the pastor.”
“What do the financial records show? Can the church still
function? (Ask for an audit.)
“Our church is polarized; unless you leave soon,
we’ll have a hopelessly divided congregation.”
Has this happened before? Then the pastor may not be
the problem. (Ask for an impartial mediator.)
“If you force a vote, there will be a terrible church fight
and the church will split.”
Church splits aren’t that likely.
(Ask the members if the church board has kept
them informed.)
“Why put your family through such trauma as a fight?”Moving is traumatic, too.
Tell your board this, and weigh your options.
“We’ll give you a chance to find a new job. Your next
church won’t have to know about all this trouble.”
“There is nothing hid that shall not come to light.”
Refuse to be a co-conspirator.
“How can you expect to pastor effectively, knowing so
many don’t want you to stay?”
Same as above: How many is many? Get a vote.
Chart Summary: of Howard V. Pendley III, “Forced Termination?” in Search (Fall, 1986), 19-24,
cited in Musical Pulpits, p 34-35.

Let me hear from readers, especially pastors, but not exclusively. Has your church experienced a “forced resignation?” How was it communicated? What were the reasons given? Did the church heal quickly? How did the pastor and his family fare?

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