When a pastor resigns, chaos reigns. Well, perhaps not that dramatically, but what follows is a time of uncertainty. We had spent a year trying to establish ourselves at a rather small church where everyone related to each other – except for us. The pastor was also new – having arrived the month before we did. His last sermon ended with the announcement that the decision had been made for him and his family to step down and to move on. We decided not to stay.
As I said, the church we visted just had the same thing happen to them, but he served between 10-15 years so there’s a lot of emotion going on. There’s the betrayal: “I expected you to be the pastor here until the day you die, how can you do this to me?” There’s the blame: “I bet it was so-and-so with their incessant questions that put him up to this!” There’s the confusion, shock, talk, and out-right hurt about it all being so unexpected.
In my church, it was probably the result of a young pastor not able to get the older congregation on board with his vision. In this new church it was probably the opposite case – an older pastor who was not on the same page with a younger congregation. Some degree of internal conflict seems to be inidicated – perhaps the pastor wasn’t happy with the recent changes or his advice being ignored. His last sermon indicated that he had been through a tough week; I imagine things haven’t gotten easier in the week since it was delivered.
This tug-of-war grudge match between elders and youth has to end. Elders set the example – insist on having things their own way and make no compromises. The result is one that the youth have followed all too well. But youth has an expiration date that demands that it’s millenials step aside for the next generation all too soon. So on the one hand, the elder-run churches are dying out more quickly than it’s non-existant youth can take over; and on the other hand the youth-run church has to push out it’s eldest to keep the youthful appearance and vibe going. Both churches have missing generations and are quite disconected between the generations it does have.
Either way, the approach that works for one generation isn’t reaching the other. It’s creating deeper divisions and mistrust in the church as neither side is willing to meet the other half-way. It’s just one more of the many reasons why we lose so many, both members and pastors.