Monday, January 08, 2007

Death by Ministry

It has been a while since I posted something significant here. The holidays, blizzards, work and family have definately been keeping me busy! Did you hear that Colorado is to get yet another snow storm, number four, that could be WORSE than the first (that was 30")? Most of us do not believe it will really be that bad... but in Colorado, you NEVER know!

This holiday season marked one year since my dad was asked to resign from his associate pastor position at our church of seven years. The new senior pastor told my dad he did not have a call to ministry and did not fit at the church anymore. The deacons, many of whom had been my dad's supprt (or so we thought), stabbed him in the back with harsh words, verbal condemnation and social manipulation. In an instant we were asked to leave our church, friends and job. It was awful. We struggled as a family, for sure, with bittnerness, anger, pain, rejection, heartache and denial. We asked many questions like, "How could a body of believers do this?" "God, what is Your purpose?"

The last year has been a constant journey of faith. Many days we cried. Other days we worried where the next house payment would come from. Then we cried some more. We wondered if friends from the church would call. The phone remained silent. We heard through twisted grapevines that the church had been told we willingly resigned. Lies, of course. We cried some more.

Yet, God gave us divine strength to face unimaginable rejection.

You truly cannot understand the pain that a pastor and his family faces when those who they serve shoot them in the back. A pastor and his family will spend years pouring their love, life and soul into a church body and many times face rejection as the only "thank you."

Trust me, I know it is not the case for every church every where, but let me tell you something. In the last year we have had at least 5 pastor friends face the exact thing we went through. There are books, seminars and entire counseling offices dedicated to pastor's and their families who have been abused by the church. It is a real problem in the church today and until someone has the courage to stand up to the political pastoral abuse, then it will continue.

If you do not believe me yet, read this edited email my dad got YESTERDAY from a close friend: (I have put things in bold that are common things that happen when pastors are asked to resign)

Well, the other shoe fell here in PA. The perfect church (LOL) turned out not to be so perfect. After T. (his wife) finished doing the children’s musical on Christmas, I was called to the church on Dec 28th and they said you still have not improved and we have gotten complaints. Which he never told who the complaints were from. The last time I knew there was a problem was in September and then in Oct the chairman said the book was closed everything was good. Then bam.

My last day was Dec 28th. I was not even allowed to go to the church. They said turn over your credit card and keys. But of course the church was told I resigned. I totally understand how you felt now.

There are no words. Anyway, I thought I owed it to you to let you know. I can tell you that for sure I am done with the ministry. I will not put my family through this anymore. I can be a Sunday school teach with no pain and no hassles. The first church was bad but this time the Pastor had OCD. He wanted an older guy yet a guy who did not know anything or had not been around the block. Very strange. I know I have flaws, but I never expected this.

God Bless
A Fellow Persecuted Servant of the King,

Unbelievable, huh?

Who gives the church the right to tell a man, who has been called of God to be a minister, to leave? There are secret meetings, backbiting, gossip, complaints and just like D. said- bam, they blind-side you with a request to leave.

Now, maybe one day when I am not so frustrated I will bring out Scripture... but right now I am incredibly burdened.

I am burdened for the Church who runs the body of Christ like a business- hiring and firing as if they are the CEO. I am burdened that there are elders and deacons running churches who are ill-qualified, not having their own homes in order and who cannot correctly handle God's Word. I am burdened for the children of our churches who are growing up with horrible examples.

When my mom and dad shared the email from D., you should have seen the look on my younger siblings faces. Then, cynically joking, Timothy said, "Sounds like how all pastors resign these days." An eleven year old said that. An eleven year old who has watched his dad face this kind of forced resignation.

I will get off of my soap box, for now, after I say one more thing.

God will hold the church responsible for how they follow (or don't) God's appointed leaders. In the same way, God will hold pastors responsible for how they lead (or don't) a church. God is a just God.

Treat your pastor's with respect- and never think your church is above political pastoral abuse. More happens behind close doors than you realize.


jonbarrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jonbarrick said...

hey, I understand what you mean. Its interesting how like 90% of Jesus' words are directed at the religious elite. My heart breaks at that story. Sorry to hear that, I know God is up to something amazing in your patience.

Kathie said...

(((Zornes Family)))
My heart is breaking for you all over again...and breaking for the pastor who penned the e-mail to your father. I am angry as well. How on earth can people get away with that? How are these churches organized? Are they churches that truely biblical...I would say no since they apparently don't utilize the Matt 18 principle. I have to say I am literally shaking with anger. I want to call my pastors and tell them what is happening and have them do something...not that they could. Who holds these men accountable, I know the Lord ultimately does but I just don't know how they can get away with this....Okay, rant over, only b/c I'm taking up space here. I continue to pray for your family as the Lord brings you to mind. Know that even though we have never really met, I love you and your family b/c I know we have the same Father.

Trin said...

For what it's worth, I do know your anger and frustration albeit not first hand. My brother-in-law "resigned" shortly after my sister got pregnant with their first child. All while living in the middle of nowhere, quite literally. Now, more than 2 years later, they are doing well. He worked hard to become the best hire my parents [say they] have ever had in the ministry they run. And they are both always looking for ways to minister directly to others, which they both love and have hearts to do (and lost when he resigned).

The last part of that letter that you highlighted, "... I am done with the ministry. I will not put my family through this anymore.", is both sobering and saddening. That men who present themselves as godly could hinder so the life of one called to ministry. Personally, I look forward to learning of what God started through my sister and brother-in-law and accomplished in spite of man. Knowing that He is in control and His plan will not be discouraged.

Spanish Morning said...

I started shedding tears all over again when I read what Timothy had said. It does not surprise me that he said that, but it does sadden me. While I am not glad your family went through this (again), I am glad that I was there through it all. Not only does it give me an insider's look and proper view of today's church, but it also has drawn your family deeper into my heart and given me a better appreciation for my own pastors.

Praise God for His constant provision for your family. How's your dad's new job going?

Katie said...

I (can truly say I) understand....

I pray God will give your family the continued grace for each day that is painful long beyond the day of separation. And that we will live to see His church sanctified and repentant of their ugliest crimes.