When the Shepherd is not allowed to lead

I've been a Sr. Pastor of 2 small churches and associate pastor at two mega churches over the last 14 years. Deciding that I am better suited in the Sr. Pastor position, I went back to a smaller church to serve in the Sr. Pastor role. The challenge I am facing at this church is that they have set up a structure where the Elders and Deacon Board run the church. Their flow chart doesn't even have the pastor on it. They seem very fearful of my influence and any attempted leadership. I have been here for 1 1/2 years and am treated like a hired hand who is not to give input. They have no strategy, no vision but want absolute control, and of course, they would never admit to this. When I started the church grew, and we were reaching people that others said they thought they would never see come into church. But over the last year a lot of these people have been run off by some of the other members.

When I interviewed with this church they said they wanted a leader who would show them how to grow the church and evangelize, but when I took the position everything was a different story. I asked hard questions before accepting the ministry and feel like I was duped in a bait and switch. And I can't for the life of me figure out why these guys would want to hire me and bring my wife and I out here when they obviously had no intention of letting me lead in any way.

All this said, any suggestions as to how to go about making this work. I am 49 and don't want to spend ten years fighting these guys and end up leaving all bloody and burnt and with a church that didn't make a difference in anyone's lives.

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Follow the Great Shepherd
by: Rob

As I read your letter I felt that I could've written it myself. I am the pastor of a non-denominational church and my story is similar. When I started the church began to grow, we were financially sound, and the church agreed to start an additional service.

The problem is that as pastor I was not allowed a poition on the board, I had no input, the same 10 or 12 people had been on the board for 30+ years with no vision and even though their words said, "Grow," there actions were the exact opposite. There actions said, "No!" And they were hostile and controlling on top of that.

One person actually stood up during a service and said, "This church has 80 seats, and that's all the people we should ever have here." There were about a hundred coming so I asked him which 20 he would like to leave.

The church split. The ones who had controlled the church left, and we got a new board but old members with the same philosophy, so I still have the same problems. The Good News is, I still feel that God has a plan and a purpose for me at this church, to do His will which has been quenched for so long.

My advice is to pray and fast to see if you are where God wants you. Ask God for a burden and vision as strong as He gave Nehemiah. Once you have that fire in your heart nothing can persuade you to quit. (However you may get fired with that kind of passion but God will lead you where it will be appreciated.) Find 2 or more that share your passion and build a leadership team that you can meet with on a regular basis. Get new members and converts to come alongside with you, it's easier to get new people to work than revive old pew warmers. Ask God to give you strength by allowing you to be lead by, guided by, and filled by, the Holy Spirit. May the Lord do such a work in your life that it can't be explained in human terms. And remember, Noah never had a convert but he never gave up. Praise Him in all things.

by: David

My question would be why do you line yourself up with a faulty church government? What you describe is not biblical. If it is a denomination then perhaps it's time for you to reevaluate your affiliation. If it's independant, you should find a church with proper order or start one.

Shepherd Boy Not Man

Dear Pastor,

You are being treated like a little boy not a man. You are being "managed" and I cannot tell you how many pastorates I left (3 or 4) with what I call "control freak" church boards, committees and parishioners. I am truly sorry because this kind of situation demeans and demoralizes a man of God like yourself faster than anything I can think of. It makes you feel inept and useless. And, you are not. I am sure you are quite competent. But, this church you are involved with has huge trust and power issues. And, the worst is they don't know how to share power and authority equally. This is bullying and abuse. You deserve better. There are so many pastorates like this and there are so many other pastorates that would love to have your leadership. I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to lead you to another pastorate. You are effectively being "muzzled like an ox" and "put out to pasture" and not only are you "due your own grain to eat" but you definitely should not be out in "left field" by yourself. I am sure there are plenty of sheep that would love to follow your leadership. You sound like a wonderful pastor. Don't give up hope. You have my prayers. Blessings+

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