Why Recentered? The Hopeless Future of a Fired Pastor
A while ago I received an email from a hurting pastor I’ve been corresponding with for some time.
After pouring himself into a church for years, trying to turn around a dead ministry, and struggling through countless discouraging battles, his elders surprised him with the news that he was fired.
May sound a little whiny if you’re on the outside of this demographic we call pastors, but this dear man is sadly representative of thousands of pastors who are let go without any warning or process that may have brought healing and reconciliation to a disunited leadership team.
Disclaimer: I’m not arguing against any firing of pastors. I realize it’s sometimes necessary. I’m advocating for a healthy process that is grace-driven and sensitive to the needs of church but admits the fact that pastors are human beings. Some pastors may need to move on, others may need to reconsider whether their current role fits, and of course there are those who disqualify themselves through abusive leadership or moral compromise.
After sharing that Recentered Group has become my full time life as a missionary from our church, this man sent me this heart-wrenching email:
Congrats on your missionary status. Your ministry is soooo needed. I just had a thought about your ministry to pastors after I'd read the statistics on your latest blog post. If I knew how to do it I'd start a ministry and try to partner with you in some way. All those pastors who retire from ministry, have trouble getting back into ministry, are burnt out from ministry, or whatever... are now faced with providing for their families without any type of relevant training. This is a super frustrating and painful process. There are very few fields where they can go without some intensive retraining which is cost prohibitive and time intensive. I've looked into all kinds of other jobs but I can't get an interview to a secular job that will pay the bills. I've looked into chaplaincy, sales, etc. This is a tough deal. Something like this is too late for me but I think it would be a cool ministry for someone.
“This is a tough deal. Something like this is too late for me but I think it would be a cool ministry for someone.”
We can talk all we want in HR language, corporate church speak, and our insane preoccupation with church growth, But the truth is, this is the real flesh and blood price of our dysfunction and inability to apply the Great Commandment to those God is calling to lead His people.
As I read these desperate words it dawned on me: His pain may help believers understand why Recentered Group exists. It’s also deep in my heart to change the narrative for those pastors and churches that will let me in.
I believe we were reborn in Christ to be better than this. We were called to validate Jesus’ claims by loving one another (John 13:34-35). Surely Jesus includes His under-shepherds in the one another we’re called to love. For this pastor, church proved to be a dangerous place that gave itself permission to ignore the Great Commandment in dealing with leaders.
In a world where so many can’t even recall one experience of unconditional love, there is something wondrously beautiful in the possibility of belonging to a family or community where grace, mercy, and love are valued above the performance mentality that forces use to hide what we know is true about us.
I’ve said it for years to church leaders around the world:
How leaders love one another is the clearest indicator to those watching of what you really believe about Christlike love.
A suddenly-fired pastor lets everyone know that they too will be disregarded, dismissed, and discharged if they fail to comply or exhibit a weakness that embarrasses the organization.
So what is it for your church, parachurch, or missionary community? What’s the climate for leaders? Fearful, abused, and one meeting away from unemployment, or safe in the love that protects them from their weaknesses through open and honest guidance, while releasing the strengths of their giftedness?
Don’t know? I encourage you to figure it out. And when you realize you need help, please let me in. I can show you a better way.