What do you do when you feel slighted by the church?

I recently received an email from a guy (Let’s call him “Bill”) who is also serving in full-time ministry, and has done so for years.  He asked my opinion on his situation and agreed to let me post his question and my response here…  I’ve changed his name, and abbreviated his initial question for the sake of time…

My wife and I were led to a church in our community back in October 2007, a 57 year old church.  Our senior pastor had been with the church 22 years and is the current chairman of the denominational Ordination Committee.  In May 2009 he was aware that I had interviewed and was offered the pastorate in Washington but I had turned it down.  He recommended to the church board the need for me to help him with community outreach, evangelism and visitations.  I was voted Associate Pastor (non paid) by the board.

In October 2009 the church fell into a hostile split over years of issues that surfaced.  After our senior pastor resigned, those of us who supported him all agreed it didn’t seem to make sense to “scatter”.  After prayer and meetings we went forward to launch a church plant. He and I discussed the need for me to continue as the AP.

My gifts are helps… I get out there and shake people’s hands. I have done outreach evangelism and visitations for the last 14 years.  I have served in the pastorate for 6 years. I’m ordained, bi-vocational at this time and am completing my 6th year at seminary.  The church plant is 1 1/2 years old, 50 members, and Baptist.

Last June when our “steering team” gathered, Pastor discussed my role (non paid) and sought support of the team.  There were 5 opinions that my role was not needed.  Their explanations were vague.  I had an opportunity to explain my calling, in love, and indicated that whether the church needed another pastor or if I was led to pastor in another church,  I was prepared to meet that calling.  I was left very disappointed.

Since our launch date, we meet once a week for service with an occasional potluck, and have 3 groups that meet weekly for Bible study. Pastor does not do outreach to the community, evangelism, visitations.  I do, and have tried to encourage men or women to accompany me and experience the shelters or programs where I mentor and give scheduled sermons.  No one has accepted to date.

Pastor asks me to give the sermon when he takes a vacation or needs a break.  To date, my pastor still needs help.  He hasn’t brought it up with the board and I don’t feel it’s wise to force my calling.  So I have laid my prayers to the Lord, seeking my calling to pastor in this church or with another church.

It’s obvious Carey, that they have closed the door and do not need a second pastor, and in many ways this is where I feel slighted by my senior pastor’s lack of support in my growth in the church.  Yes, I have presented my feelings to him through conversations over a cup of coffee and letters.  I feel slighted.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am submissive to God’s plan and purpose, His will be done.  I receive this wholeheartedly and follow the teachings in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24.  I am content but feel the doors have closed at this church, not by God, but by those on the board.   I still feel slighted.

Going forward, I truly feel despite my position, I have remained faultless in this church and have given my all in all for the Lord.  There are other churches currently reviewing my profile. Should I get an invitation to meet with one of them, my wife and I made the decision to inform our senior pastor as soon as possible.

Please keep me in your prayers.  I feel unsupported by this church, used, and hurt.  I have been very gentle about this though feeling very “to myself” and helpless.

Hi Bill,

Sadly, folks within the church do make hurtful and inconsistent decisions – sometimes based on entirely unspiritual or unbiblical reasons.  It sounds like you have given your all and have been very faithful in your efforts to support and help lead this local church.  Even the Apostle Paul was mistreated and maligned at various points along the way.  But he sets us a good example in saying that he is honored to fill up in his body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.  Bill, it’s not easy, but you have to endure this with faith in the Lord and mercy for the sheep.  Only Christ can help you to do that adequately.  I’d suggest you spend some time meditating and praying over 1 Peter 2:21-25.  Asking the Lord to help you do exactly what He did as described in these verses.  Then, begin looking for His next venture for you and your wife.  The church board clearly has a different idea (right or wrong) of what the church needs than you do, and you would be wise to move on as the Lord opens doors.

Blessings,
Carey

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5 thoughts on “What do you do when you feel slighted by the church?

  1. Although a slightly different venue, I had a similar experience at work where I am particularly gifted for. In a very very rough way I had to agree to the conclusion of dusting my feet off as I walked way that was presented to me in a unfashionable manner. It was a curious experience because I lost a lot. Colleagues, work to put my hands to, and major problems that I thought I had answers to left unresolved. The plus side of the situation was that God was speaking to me that I am an invaluable tool. However, that value does not reside in what it is that I accomplish or which cog I am in the system. It was a good conversation but a very hard one. God is slowly grafting me into a new community of labor and service which is a painful process because of the association of disappointment in my commitments to past endeavors. There is a rediscovery and new realization of who God is in the resonance of serving with the joy of what God has gifted and being owned by Christ.

  2. Although a slightly different venue, I had a similar experience at work where I am particularly gifted for. In a very very rough way I had to agree to the conclusion of dusting my feet off as I walked way that was presented to me in a unfashionable manner. It was a curious experience because I lost a lot. Colleagues, work to put my hands to, and major problems that I thought I had answers to left unresolved. The plus side of the situation was that God was speaking to me that I am an invaluable tool. However, that value does not reside in what it is that I accomplish or which cog I am in the system. It was a good conversation but a very hard one. God is slowly grafting me into a new community of labor and service which is a painful process because of the association of disappointment in my commitments to past endeavors. There is a rediscovery and new realization of who God is in the resonance of serving with the joy of what God has gifted and being owned by Christ.
    -r

  3. In what you’ve said, I agree with you. My couple of thoughts are a little different.

    First, I find it hard to believe that the senior pastor doesn’t do outreach or evangelism. That is the calling of ALL believers. This seems an area that the senior pastor ought to be more sensitive to, so if the church board doesn’t feel like Bill needs a title to do this because the senior pastor should be doing more of this himself, I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing.

    Second, if it’s a non-paid position, what is the need for a title in this? One doesn’t need to have the title of “pastor,” “elder,” “deacon,” etc., in order to do these kinds of things. This is just fulfilling the spiritual gifts that God specifically placed in Bill. Huge kudos to him for being diligent in responding to the call, but would he respond any less if he didn’t have the AP title? That’s an examination of heart, and if the answer is “yes” then it is not truly about obedience and if it is “no” then the title shouldn’t really be all that important. It is the act of service that is important, and there’s no reason this shouldn’t continue as a part of the church anyway, if the Lord’s really called him there.

    All this to say that being a third-party viewer, I’m not invested in the situation and can offer my opinion somewhat anonymously. The sense of compassion and understanding that I get from what you wrote is probably more what Bill needs then the “kick in the seat” stuff I’ve written above. But as was said by John the Baptist, “He must increase and I must decrease.” If Bill really takes himself out of the equation, and dies to self, so that only Jesus remains, I think God’s answer will make itself clear.

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope I come across as helpful and not critical. It truly is a tough situation to be in, and one that is not completely unfamiliar to myself. I think you’ve done a great job as a friend in responding.

    Blessings to you!

    • Hey Sabe, thanks for chiming in!

      The only thing I feel need of saying is this… After 20 years in ministry you can be sure, there are many pastors who don’t do outreach or evangelism other than what happens in their sermons on Sunday. All of us need work there… and all of us need the accountability to it! Thanks for giving a taste of that!

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