I know this is a bit of a sticky wicket, but if you can indulge me, I respect your opinion.
I know of a situation where the church's pastor really enjoys teaching his congregation, but does just about everything he can to avoid conflict. The church has not been what I would consider a healthy church (no growth, etc.) for many years. (I know several members in the church, including the pastor and previous pastors.) The church has multiple issues: inactive members holding key roles in finance, poor stewardship of church resources, and a general lack of discipling within the church. When a concerned member asked the pastor to back him up when he suggested correcting many of these issues, the pastor declined to take a stand, but rather he left a lot of gray area which would require no change in how things are being run.
In my opinion (which is most definitely human) I feel this member has an obligation to first go to the pastor privately and talk with him about his concerns regarding lack of leadership and correcting the flock. However, I have also heard the argument that since it is public sin it should be confronted publicly. A third school of thought has expressed that the concerned member should simply leave the church and let happen what may.
I realize you have a very vague sketch here of what is going on, but I am curious as to what your counsel would be to the member.
Post by Mike Miller on Oct 4, 2018 14:28:43 GMT -5
This is tough, since I do not have all the information. Not only that, but I only have one side to the story, since we do not know the perspective of the pastor in question. Therefore, let me make some general comments regarding concerns with pastoral leadership.
1. The concerned member should definitely approach the pastor personally and share his concerns about the pastor's leadership. Who knows, the member might gain some insight he has not been privy to. Moreover, the member might learn that the pastor has some deep scars from previous conflicts and could use some encouragement (as opposed to criticism).
2. If the member still believes he is correct and that the pastor is wrong (and by wrong, I mean guilty of malfeasance or misfeasance), then hopefully the church has a process in place to deal with staff performance issues. For example, in my congregation, we have a personnel committee that fields concerns from the church. They are able to determine if the concerns are valid or if they fall within the category of some kind of performance issue (or it could be an ethical/moral issue). If the committee (or whichever group has this responsibility) does not agree that a problem exists, then the person who brought the concern needs to drop it. If this person cannot in good conscience sit under that pastor's leadership, then it might be time to find another church. However, I think this should be a last resort. Either way, the process needs to be utilized.
3. If there is no process in place and no group within the church to deal with such issues, then the concerned member should approach two or three godly lay persons who are trustworthy. They should talk to the pastor together. It could be, however, that this person is the only one to see these problems, which also means these might not be real problems. But if the whole group sees a problem, they might have to go before the church. Extreme caution must be used, however, as this can split a church right down the middle.
4. As to there being some overall problems in the church, I suggest that the lay person suggest to the pastor that an outside consultant be brought in to help identify problems and make suggestions. Care should also be taken to make sure the right person is employed for this, as some of them can create even more problems. A phone call to the association/convention could identify some potential consultants to interview.
5. The person with the concerns needs to assure the pastor that he is in the pastor's corner and wants to help. This person can ask the pastor, "How can I help resolve these issues?" Also, he or she must assure the pastor that if he does decide to tackle these problems that the member will stand firm with the pastor.
6. The concerned member should propose some possible solutions to the problems and begin a healthy dialogue with the pastor. Frequently we pastors hear about problems, and we don't know what to do about them, and people don't offer any help. We love when people identify a problem and suggest some solutions and offer to work with us to fix the problems.
Again, I don't have a lot of information. I hope this helps some.
Thank you for your reply. I feel there is much wisdom in it and I will share as I am given opportunity. I have seen this church struggle under multiple pastors. The average tenure is about 18 months because the people resist change to the point of anger. I do not feel that all of the problems are due to pastoral leadership, but this was one particular situation where I feel like he could probably have handled things a little better. And I am quite certain we have ALL had situations where we know that is the case. I am praying that God will heal and open hearts.