Thursday, February 4, 2010



Over at Koinonia, Professor of NT Greek, Pastor, and Author Bill Mounce has a regular Monday morning column. Normally his column is about some aspect of reading, interpreting, and understanding our Greek New Testaments. This Monday, he took time instead to discuss the forced separation of a sinning pastor. His point was, wouldn't it be better if the pastor though removed from his position could yet remain in the body of believers which know him as he lives out his repentance. click here to read article an Koinonia. (I'm thinking Mounce is assuming the situation involves a pastor truly repentant and not a continuing threat to the body.)

Mounce writes: "I find myself scratching my head wondering why they were not allowed contact with the very body of Christ that should have been the greatest source of joy and comfort and grace and confrontation and love and discipline."

This started me thinking about another kind of FORCED SEPARATION that I have heard mentioned, and which appears to be a fairly normative practice - I TRULY hope that it's not.

I have observed through experience, and conversation, that Pastors who have reached a point in their lives where they would like to step down as Pastor, perhaps retire, maybe take a break from the front lines are OFTEN forced to find a new church in order to make the transition easier for the NEW pastor and congregation.

It sounds like this when communicated to me: "Pastor X. is about to retire from the ministry, it'll be necessary for him to SWITCH churches to make it easier for the new Pastor to get established."

Do you think there is something wrong with this picture?

Is this the norm? Does it happen quite frequently? if not normally? or am I overstating the case? Hope I am.

Shouldn't the church of God in Jesus Christ, elect, bought, washed and cleansed, forgiven and renewed by the Holy Ghost be able to do better for Love's sake and for the sake of Jesus Christ?

I'm NOT MAKING THIS STUFF UP! Found the following quote on a quick google search on "Preparing for your Pastors Retirement."

When your pastor retires, he will probably have to relocate. In most cases it is not good for either the pastor or the church for the retiring pastor to remain in the area. When a new minister replaces the retiring pastor people in the congregation will have a difficult time transitioning to the new leadership if the previous pastor is still in the area. They will feel conflicted emotionally and think they are betraying the former pastor if they adapt to changes proposed by the new pastor." click here for full article

You may strongly disagree with me. Perhaps experience has taught you it is better to set love aside, to disregard the Word of God for very practical reasons involved in transitions. Please know that I speaking from what I HOPE could be the case and what I believe SHOULD be the case. Pastors are brothers in Christ, not bosses, not CEO's and not employees either. Their office is biblical, and our relationships together should be biblical as well.

Maybe I'm wrong here. But this whole approach to the retirement of a Pastor who served for the Glory of God for many years seems quite apart from the word of God and from The Wisdom from above that is pure and peacable.

For his glory,



Anonymous said...

I am a pastor's wife. I know it sounds harsh that a former pastor should relocate, and it is not always necessary, depending on all of the people involved. Sometimes, though, things get sticky.

My husband took a church after the former pastor resigned (the former pastor could no longer pastor 3 churches at one time; pastoring multiple churches is common in our area). He still remained in the area, though. It hurt when our church members would tell HIM of their illnesses and prayer needs and not tell us!! We'd find out from the former pastor! The people would never tell us! This went on for years. Made my husband wonder why they even called him to be their pastor in the first place; why didn't they keep the former pastor? One family never did make the transition, but for the 10 years that we pastored that church would go to the former pastor with their needs. I realize it is difficult to make a transition when you loved the former pastor, but it makes the present pastor feel unwanted.

Really, in this situation, the former pastor has a part to play: he should encourage the people to tell the new pastor about their illnesses, prayer needs, etc., since the new pastor is the pastor now. It was always humiliating to have the former pastor call us and say "Did you know that so-and-so (one of our church members) is in the hospital?" They had never told us, but had told the former pastor instead. We felt unloved and unneeded.

No, a pastor is not a CEO, but he is called by the people to be their spiritual leader, and they should treat him as such, not "dis" him and go to another. Why call him in the first place?

This can only work (having a former pastor around) if all involved play their part. The former pastor needs to learn how to "decrease" so that the new one can "increase."

When it came my husband's turn to resign after 10 years, he was careful not to encourage our former church members, who had by then had finally gotten used to him, to tell him their prayer and visitation needs, but to tell the new pastor. There is such a thing as ministerial courtesy (and Christian love).

So, there's my "book"! Thanks!

Scott said...

Dear Pastor's Wife,

Thank you so much for taking the time to describe your experience involving replacing a retiring pastor. You have shown us very much the pain and trial endured by your husband and yourself that we might learn by your experience.

Your words will hopefully inform myself as to the part I should play in such a situation.

Hoping with you to love the pastor retiring and give due honor and love to the pastor arriving - everyone involved working in love according to their own role.

From your description, it certainly appears that depending on people it can be the much more difficult transition for a retiring pastor to remain. Somehow in mature Christian Love it ought to be possible - I feel so terrible for the pastor forcefully removed from the people whom he loved and shepherded. But also that care must be given to receive the new pastor now laboring and count him worthy of double honor.

Thank you again. May God help us all to bring glory to Jesus Christ. God bless you richly in his grace.