Sunday, June 29, 2008

Jesus Isn't the Only Way - Could Pastors Be the Problem? Part 1

Found this poll on The question was "What do you think is the main reason most people no longer believe Jesus is the only way to salvation?"

Three answers were given to choose from.
  • Tolerance has become the god of our culture. 38.48%
  • The social gospel is being given greater priority over the salvation message. 22.67%
  • Pastors are more interested in pleasing the congregation than preaching the whole counsel of God. 38.85%
This poll received almost 7000 responses. I found it very interesting that the third answer beat the other two (albeit it barely beat number one).

Are pastor's the problem? A very interesting question. I don't know if I would have given that answer, but as I think about it there might be some validity to it.

Most of my church experience has been with the Independent Christian Churches. I have held four pastoral positions in four different churches. My first being an American Baptist turned General Baptist church. I am fortunate that half of my ministry experience has been in the same church. I did have a bad church experience however. Let me tell you about it.

My first full time youth pastor position was at a small church in Idaho. This was my first big chance to do what I had finally decided God had called me to do. Unfortunately I only lasted 11 months.

I was placed under a ministry team that had been developed because of problems that had happened with the previous youth pastor. Our philosophy of ministry was very different. My focus was to challenge the teens in living a life that reflected a follower of Christ. I spent a lot of time teaching against the accepting of worldly things by those who said they followed Christ. This didn't sit well with most of the people on the "ministry team."

It came to a point where accusations were made against me. Amongst other things I was accused of driving too fast and "not having a relationship with the teens." It came out that the youth ministry team thought that the most important part about my job was having a relationship with the teens. I agree that having a relationship with them is very important, but come to find out what they meant by relationship was compromise. For example, there were a couple of leaders who thought it was acceptable to let teens come over and watch rated R movies. This was indicative of what they thought it meant to have a relationship with the teens.

Needless to say it all came to head one day. I had requested, through the senior pastor, a meeting with the elders after church. When I stepped into the room I found not only the elders but the entire ministry team (except one who was one of my biggest supporters who had been mislead into not attending). During the course of the meeting I was accused of not having changed any of the things I had been previously accused of to which the senior pastor commented that he thought I had. What was very interesting was the fact that no one seemed to acknowledge that he had stuck up for me and he didn't speak up for me after that (or against me).

That next day I was asked to come to the church where I met with the senior pastor and the head of the pastoral relations committee (who later ran off with another woman, but that's a different story). During the previous meeting I was asked if I could continue to work with the youth ministry team. I answered that they needed to let me lead. At this meeting I was told that since I said I couldn't work with the ministry team that I needed to resign and asked how I wanted it worded. I told them that I was not resigning, that they would need to say that I had been let go because of differences of philosophy between me and the youth ministry team.

You are going to have to read the second post to see how I connect this story to the poll.

Continued in part 2

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