Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Two weeks ago my Dad resigned from the little country congregation he'd ministered to for over 24 years.

He told me this Sunday night when he and Mom came to visit.

When we first started there, I was about eight years old. It was a pretty nice-sized little congregation. There were lots of kids and attendance averaged 75 on a Sunday morning. But, over the years, the kids grew up, old folks died. Families showed less interest in church and more interest in how much money they could make if they put God on the back-burner.

The kids suffered as a result of their parents putting God last. Now, they're lucky to have 45 on a Sunday morning. None of the kids of our generation except for my brother and me and maybe one other guy attend regularly and are involved in anything spiritual.

I think that contributed to Dad's resignation, but also, the men there (no elders since none of them but Dad are qualified) had spoken about cutting Dad's salary since attendance and contribution had been down.

Now, let me be perfectly clear, it was not the money that affected him, but the fact that they had no confidence in him. With his carpentry business, he doesn't need the money they pay him and winds up giving most of it away anyway. He had already been talking to Mom about leaving way before that, too. But, that lack of confidence caused him to take action.

So, he called a meeting after church and told the men that he was resigning and he would give them any amount of time they needed to find someone else. He told them that he wanted things to change there one way or another. Then, he told them something strange: He told them they could hire him back if they wanted to, but that he would be taking the first 3 weeks of August off. The final and probably biggest reason he resigned was that he needed more time with his family. Noah would be coming then, Mom needs now more than ever to go see her Mom in South Carolina, my brother and his family live around 6 hours away.

So, the next Sunday, the men called a meeting without Dad. There were 55 people there that morning. All of the men and their wives and all the kids they could guilt into being there made it.

The song leader came out afterwards and told Dad they wanted to hire him back at his current salary and they all agreed to his terms. He said they all wanted to do better, too. They all gave him their vote of confidence.

So, maybe this odd, bold, and kamikaze move made a difference and woke some people out of their complacency. But, most of all, it made me see Dad as the fearless, confident man he is.


Ryan F. said...

That's great. That's what it takes sometimes. I had one of those meetings with the kids and parents about 6 months after I got to University. The kids were bickering, parents weren't doing anything about it, seemingly blaming me. They had wanted to hire another guy who was interning here at the time (who the elders didn't want to hire because he wasn't ready) and they were upset. I basically called a meeting and said that if this was how it was, I was leaving because there was no use in me being there. It was a pretty emotional meeting and it shook everyone up. Haven't had many problems since then.

bigsip said...

I'm glad you were strong and honest, Ryan.

Most preachers would have taken the ostrich approach.

It's disheartening to know that many preachers, no matter what religion, get the shaft. People don't know how much crap they have to put up with from people. The congregation, or at least some members, think they own you.

My Dad's always been part-time, though. That makes a big difference in the way people perceive your work there. Folks have always seen him as someone who sacrifices his time rather than someone whose time is theirs.

But, no matter what your station in ministry, you sometimes have to make hard decisions and do tough things.

Ryan F. said...

Well, at the time I didn't have much to lose. It's a lot easier to do when it's just you and you don't have a family to think about. Still, it was the right thing to do in both mine and your dad's situation I believe.