Emergency Church Meeting: What Should We Do About Pastor John?

23 May

Emergency Meeting: Minutes

Once again I would like to that all of you for making the effort to attend tonight’s meeting, especially since we had to convene it on such short notice. As undoubtedly you are all aware of by now, we on the church council felt we had to call this emergency meeting because we—as a Bible-believing, unified church—urgently need to make a decision regarding what we are going to do about Pastor John.

I don’t need to remind any of you here, since you’re all mature Christians, what the Bible teaches: church unity is critically important, so we all need to be on the same page here. The Bible–as our rule-book for life and churches–also informs us that every church needs a strong and godly leader as a pastor, and that’s why we had to call this meeting tonight. For the very few of you who are oblivious to the problem, we decided to begin this meeting by providing a brief overview of the history of the situation. We’re aware that some rumors are circulating already, so we need to nip them in the bud—after all, the Bible has no time for gossip or slander. We need to get this situation right out in the open, as quickly as possible, and deal with it decisively. This meeting tonight will, we believe, accomplish two things for us: first it will clarify the current problem, and second, it will inform the difficult decision facing us.

Alright, let’s get on with business.

Pastor Jesus: The History

As most of you here will recall, eight years ago we had to take the unfortunate—and painful—decision to dismiss Pastor Jesus. Truly, that was a sad day indeed for our church, since in every respect he had a lot going for him; but you will recall, that we finally had to let him go for two specific reasons: first because of his bizarre leadership style, and second, perhaps more importantly, his preaching, which was virtually impossible for anybody to understand. He insisted on telling too many stories, that had apparently little meaning, with even fewer clear applications…and making things worse, he avoided all his responsibilities, for which he was being paid a decent salary.

He constantly insisted on leaving his office so he could hang around with some frankly undesirable people down on the city streets. Worse yet, he even brought a few back here with him, on more than a few occasions. We just couldn’t have those kinds of people coming around to our church and frightening off our good folks here; this certainly wasn’t what we were paying him for. He needed to make himself available for the wonderful people of our church, who desired his help too; but it seemed as if he was never around when we needed him. In the end, it was clear to both he and us that his time had come to an end at this church.

Pastor John

Of course, as you’re all aware, no sooner had Pastor Jesus finally vacated the building, we immediately formed a Steering Committee to search for a new senior pastor. It took a couple of years of difficult searching, but ultimately, an amazing thing happened! Thanks to all our fasting and prayers, God provided for our needs in the most miraculous way! God sent us Pastor John, who had been serving faithfully as the senior pastor of another church, a couple of states away, for several years. I’m certain they were very sad to see him go, but their loss was our gain! In his weekend of candidating here, he not only met all our expectations of what a pastor should be, he exceeded them. (I refer you to the Church Minutes where we discussed all the many reasons why we decided on our unanimous vote to hire Pastor John).

It goes without saying that over these last six years of Pastor John’s tenure as our beloved senior pastor, we here at the church have been—for the most part—nothing but pleased with the example set by Pastor John (and of course, his wife, who puts in nearly as many hours as he does without even being paid! We definitely got a two-for-one deal there). He’s worked extremely hard, he’s more than put in the hours, and overall he’s done nothing less than a fantastic job.

Now, we all know that nobody is perfect, and that includes Pastor John. There have been criticisms of his ministry, and his leadership, over the years. We on the church council have always encouraged people to go straight to him with their complaints. In fact, we made sure that it was part of his job description, that anybody in the church could call him anytime, whether day or night, evening, weekend or on his day off. We made it clear from the beginning that anybody could voice their issues and concerns a variety of ways: send him an email, call him up, text him; or if nothing else, go ahead and leave an anonymous note under his office door. Many of you have taken advantage of Pastor John’s open-door policy over the years, and we are more than grateful for your helpful feedback.

And of course, you all know that if anybody wasn’t comfortable with going directly to Pastor John, they could always come to us—the Leadership Team—with their concerns and issues. Many a time over the years, we’ve had to sit down and work out some problem or other with Pastor John. We must admit that to his credit, whenever these criticisms have come to his attention, he has always made every effort to apologize for his faults, and he’s immediately corrected these shortcomings of his, and gotten right back into line. This is a great example set by a true man of God over the years. Talk about modesty!

As the God-appointed leaders of this beloved church, we simply could not ask for any better response from such a man of God. In our opinion as faithful leaders, this has always demonstrated clearly that Pastor John is nothing if not both humble and teachable—in short, he has consistently modeled everything we could have asked for as the leader of this flock. We’ve always felt that given this great relationship we’ve enjoyed with Pastor John, the future has always looked absolutely bright for this church. To be more than fair to the man, he’s always worked hard to grow this church, and keep the old building maintained, too, by the way. Thanks to his inspired and dedicated leadership, and his solid preaching, we’ve gained a handful of families over the last few years. Yes, some have left for various reasons, but it’s to be expected. Overall, we on the Leadership Team been more than satisfied with Pastor John’s pastoral guidance, and the example he’s set of a servant leader.

In the interests of fairness, however, this isn’t to say that there haven’t been some bumps along the road. You’re all aware of the issue that we had a couple of years ago, when Pastor John went away to that leadership conference. Some of us were a bit concerned about him going; we were afraid, to be honest, that he’d pick up some newfangled ideas. Sure enough–he was all fired up when he returned back here, and it turns out that he brought some crazy ideas back with him. We suspected as much. Worse yet, he even tried to implement one or two.

Probably the worst idea he tried to put into place was this notion of having people helping him out around the church with various ministries. Well, as you all know, we held an emergency meeting with him right away on that, and let him know–in no uncertain terms–that this sort of tyrannical behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. And as a true man of God, and servant leader, he saw the light right away and put the ideas on the shelf. After all, this is what he’s being paid a salary for–to grow this church. We all considered that he was essentially shirking his duties; he claimed he was burning out, but we gave him a nice vacation, and things went back to the way they used to be–back to normal, thankfully.

The Problem

However—as much as it pains us to bring this matter to light—we regret to report that there has been a very disturbing development that has come to our attention over the last few months. It would appear that Pastor John is up to his old tricks again. We had hoped that our church would be back on track, and for the last couple of years, it has been. But now we have to report that we’ve got an even bigger problem on our hands.

In the name of biblical accountability and transparency, as your leaders we are bringing this situation to the attention of you, our faithful church members. At first, we didn’t want to believe that it was true, but sadly, we now have definite confirmation of a potentially major problem with Pastor John. Rest assured that we on the Leadership Team will shortly be confronting him with this situation, and we have every confidence that things will work out and go back to normal. But as I say, in the interests of accountability and openness, we must bring this issue into the light, and inform you—the good people of this church—so that together, as a unified body, we can decide on which course of action to take moving forward.

What seems to be the root of the problem? Well—and this sounds ironic to have to say this—in a strange way, unfortunately for us, it’s not something as straightforward as if he’d had an affair, or embezzled church funds. If that were the case, there’d be no need to go through any of this; we could simply sack him straightaway and send him packing, without severance pay—it’s in his job description, by the way. In those circumstances, it would be an open-and-shut case, and we would have every biblical reason to get rid of him, as we’re sure you all here would agree.

Both the Bible, and our church by-laws, are abundantly clear: if the pastor is involved in undisputed moral failure, he is to be summarily dismissed (without severance pay), regardless of how long he’s been the pastor of the church. If only matters were that simple and straightforward! If that were the case, then we’d be meeting here tonight to inform all of you as to why we had to let Pastor John go, and that would be an end to the matter. We’d then go about our business finding a replacement pastor, and moving forward into God’s bright future for this church.

So, if it’s not a blatant or outright sin issue, then what seems to be the problem with Pastor John? What’s he done that would require this emergency meeting? Well, in short, here is the problem as we see it. It has come to our attention that over the last few months that Pastor John has been reading—shall we say, being charitable at the least—some fairly “questionable” theological books. We aren’t certain exactly how long this has been going on, or where he even got the books; some of them have been banned from our local Christian bookstores—and rightly so. Probably ordered them online, if I had to guess. I sure hope he didn’t use the church credit card to make the purchases! Imagine how bad that might look.

That issue aside, here’s what we know for sure. Although some of us have suspected a few things—for example, some strange statements have crept into Pastor John’s sermons over the last couple of months—we now have proof positive. Just two days ago, one of the members of our church noticed one of these books on his desk, and Pastor John (rather unsuccessfully, obviously) tried to hide it under some papers. When confronted about it, he mumbled something, and said that someone had given it to him just “to glance through” and that it was just “purely academic.” He said something about how he needed to understand what was going on in the so-called “wider world of theology.” Thankfully, the person who discovered the book called it to our attention right away. I won’t name names at this point, in the interests of humility. Rest assured, though; that church member did the right thing by bringing it to the attention of the Leadership Team. We’re on the case now.

Even though Pastor John claimed that it was the only book he’d been reading, however, this clearly was an issue far too important for us to leave alone. Once that seed of doubt about your leaders starts to creep in, a person can’t be too careful. After discussing it at an emergency Leadership Team meeting, we decided to come into his office after hours, and check through his books. We’d have been happy to give Pastor John the benefit of the doubt; maybe his story was right, and that one he’d been caught trying to hide was in fact the only book. You know, just a passing interest; surely he’d see the light and repent of his actions later. But unfortunately for him, his cover story didn’t check out. Shockingly, we found three or four more books, hidden in his top desk drawer, that were potentially suspect also. Now we’ve got a real problem on our hands.

To be thorough with the investigation (as the Lord would want us to be), we also checked his computer’s internet browsing history too (in the name of accountability, of course). It saddens me to have to report the truth: Pastor John had visited several websites of some of these same authors over the last few months. The good news was, we didn’t find any evidence of him looking at pornography online, which is always good. But, having said that, it’s a shame to have to report to all of you tonight that Pastor John lied to us, and worse yet, tried to cover it all up. That shocking revelation also brings up another, more disturbing question: if he’s willing to engage in lies and cover-ups, what else is he capable of? It basically calls into question his credibility as a leader, and as a pastor. As much as it pains me to have to admit it, the man’s integrity is severely in doubt here.

I can see by the looks on some of your faces that you are wondering what sorts of books we are describing here. In the interests of keeping you safe from heresy and false teaching, we won’t mention titles. Too dangerous. But I will say that we are talking about books written by so-called “emerging church” authors. It’s apparently what’s known as “progressive theology”—basically, this is nothing more than straight-up liberal doctrines that are once again creeping into the church. We’ll spare you the gory details, but these kinds of books are what they call “postmodern” in their theology—in other words, they are questioning everything we believe is Truth, and undermining the authority of the Bible itself. The repercussions of this are potentially very damaging, and disturbing.

We can’t have that kind of thinking pervading our beloved church, now can we? For sure, we certainly can’t have it impacting Pastor John’s own theological beliefs, since he—as the senior pastor—is in such an important position of influencing all of us here at the church. As mentioned, we’ve already suspected that some of these teachings have modified his way of thinking, and have started to rear their ugly heads in his sermons. We can’t have this false doctrine infiltrating our church, now can we? Absolutely not.

Makes you wonder exactly how good his Bible college and seminary degrees are, if he’s that susceptible to false teaching. Not worth the paper they’re printed on, if you ask me.

Just in case you’re worried about what’s going on, know this: we immediately removed the books from Pastor John’s office, and we have them safely locked away. That’s what good leaders like us do—we try to live out the biblical mandate to protect the flock from those wolves in sheep’s clothing, as those false teachers are described in the Bible.

It’s totally unsafe even to consider for a moment these so-called “progressive theologies,” which are nothing more than frankly dangerous teachings. As leaders of the church, our job is to safeguard the church from unsafe ideas that could destroy the very foundation of people’s faith in Christ. Clearly, Pastor John is failing in his duties as a shepherd, and can no longer be trusted to guide and lead us into the truths found in the Word of God.

We hardly need to remind you all concerning the obvious facts: it is our job on the Leadership Team to make sure that the wishes of this congregation are represented as fairly as possible, and that the expectations placed upon Pastor John are met (or exceeded) by him. Not only that, but to make sure that if changes do need to happen, they will come about in such a way that everybody is happy with them—nice, slow incremental changes. We’re talking about policies and procedures here, though, and not about taking a sledgehammer to the very foundations of the faith like he’s apparently in the act of doing.

It’s like this. If you’re a senior pastor, you’re in a position of immense authority and trust. You certainly don’t want that pastor to go around tampering with people’s beliefs, do you? Lives could easily get destroyed that way; and incidentally, that’s also a good way to lose people from our beloved church here. We’re here to protect the flock, not have sheep falling off the side of the theological mountain, so to speak, because their shepherd got distracted by some strange new teachings and spiritual fads.

We can’t have Pastor John rocking the boat, after all; we hired him to maintain things on a nice, even keel. If changes do need to occur around here, it should be by consensus—approved by the majority with a vote—and not because he was sneaking some strange new ideas in through the back door. There’s no accountability built into that way of thinking—it’s the type of thing a dictator does, and we didn’t hire Pastor John to run the show any old way he sees fit! We’re a Bible-believing, truth-loving, God-honoring church, and we aim to keep it that way, don’t you agree? Of course you do.

Look, we all know that change is inevitable, but why alienate people in the process? Why break with the time-honored traditions of our faith? Especially when there seems to be absolutely zero need to do so, other than simply for the sake of theological novelty? The Bible warns us of the dangers facing Christians: flitting back and forth, blown about by every new wind of doctrine that hits the church. We’d like things to go back to the way they were before, thank you very much. There’s simply no need to disturb everything, shaking everything up, the way Pastor John seems to be trying to do here. This whole thing smells rotten; I don’t mind saying.

In my opinion, what makes the situation even worse is the fact that he’s not even being open and honest about his new belief system, but he’s trying to hide it–as if he’s ashamed of being caught out. These are not the actions of a man of God, surely.

Here’s the bottom line. We feel that we have been more than fair with Pastor John over the years, but there comes a point when one reaches the limit. That’s why we’ve called this emergency meeting tonight, because we on the Leadership Team feel we’re approaching a crisis point now, and something has got to be done about it. It’s only biblical, after all; Matthew 18 and all that.

Therefore, here’s what we aim to do tonight. In the interest of fairness, and transparency, we’re going to ask all of you now to cast your vote on the piece of paper that’s being handed out right now. Tell us what you would like to see happen.

You’ll notice on the paper in front of you that there are two choices: option one, due to the severity of the crisis at hand, we must let Pastor John go immediately, no severance pay. Option two, we keep him on as senior pastor, but with a reprimand. We will demand that his dictatorial behavior stops immediately, and moreover that things go back to normal–the way it was before all of this came up.

But rest assured; have faith in your leaders. We’re on the lookout from now on. If we catch Pastor John bringing any more heretical teachings into the church in the future, we won’t be so patient next time—he’ll be looking for a new church: no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Alright, I think we’ve made the situation clear. Does everybody have a pen or a pencil? ]

Great. Let’s get started.

Read the Next Post: Time to Move on, Pastor John

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