Control main issue when pastors fired, survey finds
April 11 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Control main issue when pastors fired, survey finds | Friday, April 11, 2003

Friday, April 11, 2003

Control main issue when pastors fired, survey finds

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

Most pastors forced out of churches in 2002 left over control issues, a Baptist State Convention (BSC) survey found.

Officials from all 80 N.C. Baptist associations participated in the survey.

Wayne Oakes, a consultant for the pastoral ministries team in the BSC Congregational Services Group, said the results of the survey are similar to those in the five years the BSC has done the survey.

Thirty-one directors of missions said that control issues over who is going to run the church were a common cause of forced terminations, according to the survey. Twenty-five said the pastor's poor people skills were a common cause.

Twenty-three associational officials said a pastoral leadership style that was too strong was a common cause of forced terminations.

"One of the things today that's impacting forced terminations is pastors are listening to some of the wrong voices about how to be a pastor," Oakes said.

Some pastors go to conferences where pastors of mega-churches present the "CEO model" of pastoral leadership, telling pastors that God has called them to be the pastor of the church and they should tell the congregation what to do. The conference leaders are used to pastoring a church with thousands of members, Oakes said.

"You bring that down to a rural North Carolina church with 50 to 60 members ... it's a totally different situation," he said.

Some pastors with the best of intentions don't have the experience or insight to realize that, Oakes said.

Nineteen directors of missions said pastors were forced out because of conflict that existed before the pastor arrived, according to the survey.

Other reasons for forced terminations and the number of directors of missions who listed them as a common cause were: the church's resistance to change, 15; decline in attendance and/or contributions, 11; pastor's leadership style too weak, 7; administrative incompetence by the pastor, 6; and disagreement over doctrine, 5.

Sexual misconduct was listed by just two directors of missions. Only one mentioned ethical misconduct.

The survey found that 64 full-time pastors and 19 bi-vocational pastors were forced from their ministry positions last year. Twenty full-time staff members and three part-time staff members were forced out, according to the survey.

Oakes said many forced terminations might not be recorded because the associational officials aren't aware of them. The pastor might be hesitant to tell the director of missions because it would hurt the chances of getting a favorable recommendation, Oakes said. Churches might not want the association to know about it because they are embarrassed, he said.

At other times, the forced termination might be kept quiet within the church. Oakes said the deacons or other church leaders might privately tell the pastor that it's time to leave, allowing the pastor to "escape by the skin of his teeth."

Oakes said as many as 400 ministers in North Carolina might be fired each year.

"My suspicion would be that the number of actual forced terminations is much higher than what we report," he said.

The results of the survey will be compiled with information from 27 other states for a national report on forced terminations to be released in July.

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4/11/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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