My father-in-law is a good man. He has been a minister for more than 30 years. He was one of the original missionaries in Sierre Leone, Africa. He has currently been preaching for a small Indiana congregation for at least 15 years. He is sound in doctrine, kind, gentle, and a friend to everyone. He’s always willing to lend a helping hand, and carries a smile for everyone he sees.
He is being fired from his current position and is having great trouble finding a replacement position.
A few months back the elders at his congregation sat him down to tell him they would like him to leave. They were not really explicit as to why. There was something about a couple of members having some issues with him. They weren’t real clear on what that issue was, but it seems more of a personality thing than a doctrinal thing. They also would not say who these people were.
Also they stated they were not happy with the current membership numbers. In fact, they said that they had wanted the attendance to be up by a certain number by the first of this year, and that goal was not met. However, they did not relay this information to the congregation, nor to my father-in-law. They have given him until the end of this month to leave.
All kinds of emotions flair through my system.
If a member has a problem with anyone, let alone a preacher, shouldn’t they have a sit-down? Why wouldn’t the elders bring in this person or persons and let them talk with my father-in-law? They should try to work these things out, before they let him go. We have a hidden feeling, this person, is in fact one of the elders and he’s too chicken to actually talk to my father-in-law.
If an attendance goal was set, why was no one told? There are so many things wrong with it, I get all kinds of pissed. Attendance should not be the only goal of a congregation. Certainly we are told to teach and save the lost. Certainly we should be inviting people to come. But if all we care about is butts in the pew, we may in fact get that, but at what cost? Look to the TV to find giant congregations full of false teaching. Growing the current membership spiritually and brining the lost in by sound doctrine should be the priority.
Seeking and saving is not the duty of just the preacher. If an attendance goal is set, the membership ought to be involved. As Christians we are all to be telling the Good News, not just the preacher. But certainly he ought to be told of this goal. How is anyone expected to reach a goal, if they don’t know what the goal is, or that there even is one.
Even secular work places do better than that.
This Sunday we visited my in-laws and attended services with them. One of the elders announced they had found a new preacher and he would be starting in June. None of the two elders told my father-in-law beforehand. Luckily a kind member had let him know a few days ago, in private, or I don’t know what would have happened. My father-in-law asked the elders if they wanted him out of the preacher’s house now, and they said he has until June, and maybe a little longer because they were “working on something.”
Fifteen years of dedicated service this man has given them, and he’s treated like a dog. What’s the rush? Would the church be hurt if they waited until he was gone to start looking for a replacement? From a business perspective I can understand how you’d want to make the transition quick, and find a replacement quick. I can also understand how you might put the pressure on him to leave so that he won’t stay forever. From a business perspective this makes sense. But this is God’s Church. We are supposed to be better than that. It would be different if he was accused of preaching falsehoods. If he had taught from the pulpit unsound doctrine and led others astray, I can understand kicking him out. But the only reasons given for his departure is that he didn’t bring enough people into the building. That’s no reason to be treated this shoddily.
My mother-in-law told me that none of the elders have even spoken to her. Not just about this situation, but even a hello.
On the other end, he is having great trouble finding another job. He has been to probably 20 congregations and not heard anything good. Almost all of them have directly asked him how old he is (he’s in his 60s) and several have pretty much straight out told him he won’t get the job due to this.
In the secular world, you don’t even ask that question. Not even for jobs that require a great deal of strenuous activity. If you do you’ll get your butt sued for age discrimination. But apparently as Christians we don’t mind a little discrimination. Because, of course, a lifetime of service and experience doesn’t mean anything. Young people straight out of college with little experience will do a better job.
This completely depresses me on the state of the church.