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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Thursday, October 02, 2008
Fall Out From Pastoral Exits
Somewhere along the road, the office of Pastor became just like any other profession. A Seminary education nowadays has more clout in most places than the a divine call - and even divine calls are no longer something that the church recognizes, but rather have been personalized - as though God calls you, but tells no one else about it. The end result is that most men who become a pastor do not do so because everyone in their congregation recognizes that they have a gift and a calling, but rather because they themselves have thought that being a pastor would be pretty sweet.

So they go to Seminary with a bunch of other young men, and they get certified by a group of established academics with a degree, or two. Now they are "qualified" by man to be pastors, and the job search begins. Soon they are being interviewed by churches full of people they don't know by elders they do not know, and often the answers to all their questions can be had from the churches' published statement of faith. The "candidate" has to have that good pastoral feeling if he wants to get the job - he has to come off as both gentle and full of conviction, intelligent, but warm - and above all, he better be entertaining in the pulpit. If he has enough sparkle, he will be in a pulpit sooner than his less bubbly counterparts.

But, as often happens, hiring a perfect stranger to be an elder in your church sometimes ends up being a mistake. As a man who has preached in several churches suffering the fall out of this syndrome, sometimes more than once, it breaks my heart, especially in those places where I have preached often, and formed relationships.

In comes Mr. Pastor - oh he is just the right age, not dodderingly old, but with enough gray hair to get respect. He is so well spoken, and interesting in the pulpit - never a dull sermon, and best of all, he has big ideas for the church. Sure he is a perfect stranger that we met two weeks ago, but hey! We all prayed about it and besides, we have been without a pastor now for two years!

Yet two years later, Mr. Pastor isn't working out. His "vision" for the church is cut and pasted from the latest church growth propaganda, and he himself, however educated, never seems to preach anything deep - it's all shallow this, and shallow that. The older sheep are starving, and the younger sheep are just coming to be entertained. The other elders in the church - the ones who have been commit ed to this body for decades - they do not fit in with this pastor's vision, and there is strife. The immature outnumber the mature in the church five to one, and so the pastor is "well loved" and the elders begin to look like "old school" grumps, the pastor feels his hands are being tied - he can't implement the latest Saddleback methodology with these guys hovering over him - and sooner than later, there is a power struggle, and the guys with the greater investment in the body are not going anywhere soon.

So Pastor leaves.

And those who were coming to church with our modern day "consumer" mindset, they leave too. Why? They leave because the pastor was the only reason they were coming to the church. He was like the movie, and the church was the theatre - when the movie ends, you don't hang around in the building. So too, when their reason for being there leaves, they stop coming.

Sometimes these same lambs follow the shepherd and a new work is started - other times they disperse and find other preachers who can tickle their ears.

When I was more immature in the faith it happened to me too, so I know what I speak of. I was attending what seemed to be a great church: nice people, awesome preaching. It was my church, and I was glad to be a member. But when the pastor resigned suddenly, I likewise "suddenly" felt entirely disconnected to that body. The truth was that I hadn't really connected with that body in the way I had connected with that pastor - and so when he left, I felt no connection to the church, and left that assembly because one of the remaining elders was using his office corruptly. It was a good enough reason to leave, really, but had I been more mature, more connected to the body - I would have stayed behind and worked at fixing what was broken rather than use it as an excuse to leave.

The lesson here is this: First, make sure you are not connecting with just your pastor, but with the whole body of believers. Second, when new people come into your assembly understand what love looks like - it looks like going and connecting with them as often as possible, and encouraging others to invest in their lives too. If your heart isn't in it, talk to God until it is. It may be practical advice, but doing it without a heart to do it is like building a house on sand. Thirdly, stop hiring pastors as though pastoring was a job you could be qualified for by academics and experience - you are qualified to be a pastor when God in the person of the Holy Spirit selects you to shepherd a particular body of believers. There were itinerant preachers in the NT, but this pastoring here for a few years then being "called" someone else once the water gets tepid, that's pure bunk.

It shouldn't be that when the latest pastor exits after two short years in the pulpit that 60% of the congregation leave the church! Unity doesn't just happen, those who are strong in the faith come along those who are weak in the faith. Grrrrr. This stuff gets me excited in a bad way.

Anyway, wherever you find yourself this Sunday, seek to be glue there.

Labels: ,

posted by Daniel @ 6:51 AM  
11 Comments:
  • At 9:36 AM, October 02, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I should comment in case someone doesn't want to be first.

     
  • At 11:05 AM, October 02, 2008, Blogger ewe cho said…

    Daniel,
    I think that is far too common in our church world as I have seen and experienced the same thing. I also believe it comes from the ministry being a 'career choice' rather than a divine calling from God.
    Considering it takes years of apprenticeship under a master tradesperson for most trades, how much more should it be necessary for young pastors. When I see young eager men establishing churches only 7 years out of high school it makes me shudder.
    We also live in a society of heros and idols and follow men rather than following God. We often choose our church based upon the sermon quality - which is the pastor. However, if that pastor is spiritually mature he should be encouraging the maturity of his elders and members so when the time comes for him to leave - he leaves a mature body of believers who will not fall apart when he goes.
    We attend here for the body - not the pastor's sermons (although they are okay) so we would stay - unless the next pastor would lead in a way we cannot follow.
    Thanks for the thoughts - always stimulating, thought provoking articles.
    Eunice

     
  • At 12:05 PM, October 02, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Eunice! You started a blog! I hope you will be posting regularly, ;)

    We are programmed from infancy to be entertained in our leisure time, and programmed from grade school that academic accreditation legitimizes a trade. It follows (without surprise) that immature believers come to church to be entertained, and immature churches hire pastors according to the worldly standards they have been spoon-fed all their life.

     
  • At 5:22 PM, October 02, 2008, Blogger ewe cho said…

    Daniel,
    To your comment - Amen! I guess it's because being a maturing, becoming sanctified, Christian is a hard life and we "people always will be as lazy as we are allowed to be" Don't remember who said that recently but I think they are right.

    re the blog - I am totally nervous about putting my thoughts out for everyone to see :) It's much less scary having them only on my own computer. Still I think I'll give it a try.

    Eunice

     
  • At 12:16 AM, October 03, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    Of course there are exceptions, but a "Senior Pastor" at 25? You aren't even a man until at least 30...seriously now...

     
  • At 7:03 AM, October 03, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    JD, that made me smile. Most of us were raised into an artificially prolonged childhood - those years between puberty and the legal age of adulthood. During those years we were denied responsibilities and privileges appropriate to our maturity, and made to sit in rooms with similar people all day long under the authority of teachers in order that we might be better prepared to be what we already were. Much of what we learned academically in those years fades away in the first decade, but the peer system, and the wounded confidence remain. There are plenty of 25 year old men who are still stuck in their childhood because our culture didn't let them grow up when it was time, and so they learned to stay children at a time when they should have been becoming men.

    I agree with you though, there are exceptions, and it is wonderful to find one, but nowadays, most 25 year old "men" are partying with their high school friends, many of whom still live at home.

     
  • At 10:55 AM, October 03, 2008, Blogger Marcian said…

    Second, when new people come into your assembly understand what love looks like - it looks like going and connecting with them as often as possible, and encouraging others to invest in their lives too. If your heart isn't in it, talk to God until it is. It may be practical advice, but doing it without a heart to do it is like building a house on sand.

    Daniel, this is the one thing that the Lord taught me when I became a believer. I have the spiritual gift of encouragement, and after leaving my old church (because they were not teaching the truth) I came to my new church and began to realize that we are here to encourage each other. We are all in the process of growth, and just as children need encouragement as they grow and learn, all spiritual children need spiritual encouragement to take up their cross daily, and to take up the sword in the other hand. Work to restore the soul of the weary pilgrim sojourning beside you. The world does not ever offer this kind of encouragement.

     
  • At 10:59 AM, October 03, 2008, Blogger Marcian said…

    And JD, I agree with you there. There are some churches with "Senior Pastors" who are younger than I am... and I'm not yet 30. I wonder if they've lived long enough to really deeply grasp what they're teaching. It's not a bad idea, I think, to humble one's self and be a much-needed family pastor or serve senior adults (those saints who have earned their stripes) and learn humility and service, which is much desired in the eyes of God.

     
  • At 10:54 AM, October 04, 2008, Blogger donsands said…

    "Yet two years later, Mr. Pastor isn't working out.'

    In my last church it was 9 months later, and the elders asked the pastor to resign.

    Little did I know the repercussion that would take place. A year later, after a very dark and heavy year spiritually for me, the elders and pastors all left the church, an EFCA church.
    So a congreagtion of 100-150, was now 35. And those who left were dispersed, and without a home church.

    It really stinks. But it happens. And the bottom line is this kind of mess, is that God is showing His people their hearts: Indivdually, and collectively.

    Some repent, and some stay proud. It still hurts to think about it.

    Thanks for the good words here. You're spot on.

     
  • At 9:30 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Hi Daniel,
    This kind of thing gets me excited in a bad way too. I don't get it.

     
  • At 9:43 AM, October 08, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose, I get it, but I don't like it.

     
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