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    Should a church give a reason when firing the pastor?

    Should a church give a reason when firing the pastor?

    Here is an interesting story.  A Wichita area pastor was fired last week from a fairly large (800 or so) church.  That's not the news.  The story here is that the church is not saying why.  In fact, they're not giving any reason at all.

    The local newspaper has picked up the story, and the church isn't commenting.

    The church, according to the newspaper report, really isn't telling the congregation much of anything either.

    Pastor Bryson Butts (unfortunate name) helped found GracePoint Church eight years ago.

    The news was delivered by Pastor Butts (sorry again... but that's a really unfortunate last name) on his Facebook page:

    "Last night, the GracePoint board voted 4-0 to sever my relationship as lead pastor."

    The word from the church:  "We view this as an internal matter, and we are busy making sure our congregation is understanding what's going on."

    No word on if the church is being more candid internally.

    I think the statement made publicly to the newspaper was unfortunate, for three reasons:

    1.  It looks like they're hiding something.  Whenever someone doesn't tell you the reason for something, it's because they don't want to.  They're protecting themselves or someone.  That doesn't look good when you're a church.  Better to say something generic like "we needed a different kind of leader to move us forward" or "we wish Pastor Bryson the best".

    2.  It seems impersonal and cold.  The pastor is never mentioned in the statement.

    3.  It isolates the church from the community.  Whenever you say that something is an 'internal matter', it means that everyone else is on the outside.  That's not the normal way a church wants to or should be seen in the community.

    Nor should the announcement have been made by the pastor on his Facebook page.  That's a horrible way to announce a staff person leaving.

    Perhaps I am being too hard here.  I don't know the situation...but I think it could have been handled much better.  

    It's been my observation in working at three different churches on staff, and working with literally hundreds of churches in the area of staffing and leadership, that most local churches are not prepared for a personnel situation of this type.

    Pre-planning is absolutely necessary.

    And don't 'pull the trigger' before you have a plan:

    1.  Why are we firing?  What is the private/public reason that we are giving?

    2.  How will this be communicated to the church?

    3.  How will the be communicated to the media?

    4.  How will we respond to the criticism we know we'll get for making this decision?

    5.  Who will say what?  and when? and how?

    Firings and terminations are never easy... especially when it's the senior leader.  But they sometimes need to happen.  Just make sure when they do, that you have a plan.

    UPDATE:  It appears further reasons have been given to the church family via email.  Perhaps they didn't anticipate the Facebook announcement before the official word got out.  Good lesson learned.  The newspaper article with the statement sure didn't help the standing in the community though.


    Your thoughts?  Have you been fired?  Was it done well?  Have you had to fire a church staff person?  Did you have a plan?  Did it go well, or was it ugly?


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    1. Todd Rhoades on Mon, January 10, 2011

      “If a pastor was lazy he would not be a pastor”.

      Sorry, Phillip… we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.  I’ve met quite a few lazy pastors in my day; and a few incompetent ones as well.

      That said, I also know a ton of highly healthy, high competent, highly Biblical pastors.


    2. Phillip Maine on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Joshua Sklar It is not you that caused the decline but self serving people that just have not been taught nor care about the fact that it is about Jesus not about me!

    3. Phillip Maine on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Tod, incompetent as to who’s standards?
      It just might be that in this end age when people have itching ears to hear what they want to hear this “incompetent” pastor is the man Jesus is trying to use to get his message out.  This does not explain the six thousand pastors that were fired last year.  In the 1980s it was 3000!

    4. Phillip Maine on Mon, January 10, 2011

      This will all be over soon for the end of the age of Grace is upon us!  watch all 12.  I have known of John Moore and is truthfullness sense the 80s.

    5. Phillip Maine on Mon, January 10, 2011

      if you want to email privately .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    6. Daniel Moore on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Interesting.  When I accepted my call to my present ministry in 1995, I asked the congregation what the two biggest priorities were.  I was told, “Get more men involved and bring more families into the church.”  Eighteen months later at a ladies’ meeting my wife was the recipient of complaints against me.  Why?  Too many men involved and more families in the church!  She responded, “My husband was a soldier for 20 years and did what he was told.  He asked you what the church’s two biggest priorities were and he has been faithful in meeting the challenges.”  I understand that there was a movement afoot to remove me but my wife’s comments put a stop to it.

    7. Peter Hamm on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Phillip writes [If a pastor was lazy he would not be a pastor.] you haven’t been in that many churches, have you.

      Daniel, I’ve seen junk like that in the church all the time and it’s shameful. I hope your folks come around.

    8. Todd on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Sad and troubling. One possibility that I’ve seen is strict requirements of confidentiality imposed by the departing pastor. Church Board has evidence of serious problems concerning the Pastor (perhaps moral, l legal, integrity, serious leadership flaws, etc.) that they feel rises to the level that they have a responsibility to remove him. However, the Pastor is very popular in the congregation and very few are aware of or would quickly believe the situation. Board feels the church could suffer great harm from the fall-out if they dismiss the Pastor outright so they pressure him to resign. He refuses unless they agree to a very strict confidentiality that prevents them from saying anything to anyone. Even though concerned and not liking it, Board caves reasoning it is the less of two wrongs.

    9. Pastor Bob Moore on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I am suprised that no one realized that the board has a improper number of Trustees (501c3) church. The board must be in threes (3). 4-0 is improper.

    10. Randy Heddings on Mon, January 10, 2011

      It is unfortunate about this Pastor’s firing.  He started the church and now people are getting rid of him.  There are, as many have said reasons to keep this quiet but churches use that excuse to hide their own issues.  Studies report reasons for termination are very rarely Theological but more personality conflicts than anything but, that is pure speculation on my part.  I agree with the Brother that made the post a little further up in that churches are not real good at taking care of this kind of business.  The key, God is still in control.

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