Through the years we all have heard a lot about displaced people. It may be refugees displaced because of war. Or it can be the homeless displaced by the ravages of a hurricane such as Katrina. I was surprised recently when the word began to be applied to Pastors that are no longer at their church. In fact there are ministries that are available to help displaced (exited, fired or laid off) Pastors cope with all the issues and emotional baggage of being let go. There is not only help for the Pastor but also his wife and family who are affected too.
PIR Ministries is one such organization They exist to offer hope to ‘at-risk’ and exited pastors. They say this: "Studies indicate that 1,500 - 2,000 pastors are displaced from their church each month. Unlike being laid off or fired from most other positions, the exited pastor doesn't have the church to fall back on for support. The church is the source of the disappointment, anger and pain that can plague the ex-pastor and his family. PIR Ministries (Pastor in Residence) exists to address this tough issue. PIR Ministries partners with God and the church to provide a proven process that can restore hope to at-risk and exited pastors." For more additional information go to Pastor Support Network
The word displaced in its verb form (used with object), means:
1. to compel (a person or persons) to leave home, country, etc.
2. to move or put out of the usual or proper place.
3. to take the place of; replace; supplant:
4. to remove from a position, office, or dignity.
One often hears the stories of Pastors that have been displaced from their churches. Sometimes it may be the Pastors fault for sexuality immorality. But other times it can be because of the Pastor wearing a 'tee shirt' to preach in and the older folks of the church are offended and give him the boot! It may be a forced early retirement led by the leaders of the church. Or, the Pastor takes a sabbatical and when he returns is informed that his services are no longer needed and the interim Pastor and leadership are carrying on without him. These are recent actual occurrences that I personally know about.
The key issue in most cases that I mentioned is the leadership (laity) assuming control over the future direction of the Pastor and church. Some how they feel it is their church and are embolden to control all that goes on. They forget that they were chosen by the very man that put them in a leadership role. They also forget that the Pastor was called of God, equipped for ministry at personal expense, empowered by the Holy Spirit and gave himself and his family to the work of the ministry.
Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Mt 16.18). That is true enough but what we don't count on is the strife that is perpetrated on a local congregation when leaders rise up in a power struggle to bring division into the unsuspecting congregation. They only find out about it after the damage and hurt has been done. Some pastors leave quietly and discreetly and the Elders are not held accountable for their actions while others try to battle it out. Sadly enough what the apostle Paul wrote to the Elders at Ephesus (Eph 20:29-30) about attacks coming against the church from without and from within becomes the case in point. A church can stand together united against the attacks from without, but it is thrown in to unexpected turmoil by the attacks from within. When the leaders begin to run the church strictly on business principles they soon ruin it!
In light of this, a Pastor should be careful about laying hands on lay leadership and evaluate the degree of authority that the church constitution or bylaws allow these leaders to operate in. In order to head off the inward fighting for control and ensuing destruction, a Pastor needs to take preventative measures. We will address this in a continuing post on this subject.
I would like to hear your story or ones that you have firsthand knowledge of. Please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also check out Liberty Fellowship. I am Executive Director of this great organization that fosters care, accountability, and continued teaching for Pastors. No Pastor should be alone in the ministry! We are better together!