When a Pastor Leaves a Church for Unknown Reason
Some changes happen in the world of church leadership, that are more understandable, when it is a senior pastor retiring due to old age, or a lead pastor has decided to take a new ministry call by going to a different church in a different location.
What’s shocking and disillusioning is when there’s a scandal due to moral failure or illegal matters, and the senior pastor has to resign in disgrace, and it leaves a lot of collateral damage in the hearts and minds of the members and attenders in the church congregation. Not to mention the stained reputation in the public eye.
What’s harder to understand is when a senior pastor ends his ministry at one church (formally, that’s called tendering a resignation in organization-speak) without a clear next position where that pastor is leaving to.
This leaves most everyone perplexed and confused. And, in the midst of the silence, people will do what people will do, which is to fill in that silence with their own story to make sense of what’s happened, or what didn’t happen, some mixture of real and imaginary life experiences.
In today’s digital and social age, churches are not known for being the best example of transparency but quite the opposite. For reasons of genuine concern and avoiding misunderstanding, church leaders err on the side of saying less and being cordial. But that does leave some people dissatisfied and frustrated.
This kind of a thing, with mature Christian leaders not always agreeing on decisions, is part of the human condition, believe it or not.
“And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus…” Acts 15:39 ESV.
Yes, there is one Holy Spirit and one church. Sometimes one leader follows the Spirit’s leading but another doesn’t. But, at certain times and in certain situations, maybe it’s the same Spirit directing two leaders in different directions.
The mysterious parting of pastor and church has happened 3 times at prominent large churches in the OC during the past year. What happened with Ken Baugh at Coast Hills Church, leaving after 10 years? Todd Proctor at Rock Harbor, leaving after 17 years? Mike Erre at EvFree Fullerton, leaving after 3 years?
There was no scandal. There was a parting of ways. There may well have been hard conversations behind closed doors between various leaders involved, wrestling through difficult perspectives and decisions, but that’s not healthy for public consumption. Right? There is much sadness, more than enough to go around. And, everyone has to go through the grief process to find healing for what’s done is done.
And, there is hope, that in the divine sovereignty of God, these kind of things can be orchestrated for good and with healing for all those touched and affected, especially those in the midst of the storm.
[photo credit: terry_alexander]