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.
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.