My heart immediately sank and my thoughts quickly traveled across the country to him and his family. As quickly as I could get away to my office I called to see how he was doing.
I know how he feels. In January of 2005 this happened to me. It was not our idea and to be frankly honest it was not even on my radar that this could happen..but it did. It happens to one in four ministers.
While talking to my friend today, I remember the night that I had to tell my kids what had happened. My youngest, now 13, was just a boy and I remember his little head bowed and tears running down his face as he looked up and said "why don't they want us anymore?" It was the beginning of many lessons in church life for him.
One in three congregations has a a history of terminating pastors. Some of them have the reputations of "clergy killers" or "staff eaters". Now isn't that a nice thing to be said about the local body of Christ.
As far as I can tell, my friend was the victim of an "unhealthy culture" at this church and as a therapist once said to me "the dysfunctional system will either try to change you or reject you." I reminded my friend of that today--that he had been kicked out of a dysfunctional system.
A Baptist help line volunteer put it this way about forced terminations for pastors: Barney Self said this in a Baptist Press article.
Self said. "[T]hey don't just lose a job like you or I would. They don't just lose their ministries; they lose their house, their church, their friends. Often their families are uprooted."I promised this friend that we would not forget him. In fact the next 15 minutes after my call was spent in texting and twittering a network of friends who know him to begin praying for him and his family. And we will do what we always do when one of our own is fallen. We surround them with love and care, and we activate our networks (which are older than social media itself) to help this man find a place where he can be healed and restored. Isn't that what the body of Christ is suppose to do?
Pastors Wives--Help For Forced Termination