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When does a church know when it’s time to fire the pastor?  What are the most crucial of reasons?

Sexual Immorality

Pastors are instructed to live above reproach and that means he must be “faithful to his wife” (Titus 1:6).  The “the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2).  To be faithful means he must control himself (self-controlled) and his sexual desires and impulses and not even look at another woman with lust and this means respectable behavior in his daily life.  All too often I hear about pastors who have had a case of sexual immorality and they’re allowed to go back behind the pulpit. I don’t see this as three-strikes and you’re out.  No, this is a special calling; it is one strike and you’re done.  If a pastor has committed adultery or if single, committed sexual immorality, then the church’s reputation is greatly damaged and if the church allows this man to remain behind the pulpit, what kind of message does this send to the community of lost people and to the church members too?  One lady who was living with a pastor asked if this was okay and even though she said they weren’t having sex I said the Bible teaches that we “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thes 5:22) and not only should we avoid any behavior anyone might perceive as being evil, we should flee from that which is evil and even flee from that which appears to be evil. She ignored my counsel to move out and this pastor is still a pastor at a church I personally wouldn’t darken the door in for sure.

Unbiblical Teaching

I have mentioned to the church a few times during my sermons that “Today part of my sermon will be perfect…the part where I read out of the Bible.” My part is never perfect but the Word of God always is.  When a pastor begins to teach unbiblical messages then he should be warned by the church leaders and membership that he’s in error. If the pastor doesn’t admit to the mistake (if it isn’t intentional) and then go back to the central doctrines of the Bible, then he is done as a pastor.  The last thing any church needs is to have someone teach doctrinal error and heresy.  The essentials include the sinless-ness of Christ, the divinity of Christ, the need for repentance, the need for confession of sin,  and the need for growing in and living in holiness.  If these essentials are compromised behind the pulpit, it’s time to fire the pastor for the good of the church.

Unethical/Illegal

I’ve seen too many examples where pastors have taken advantage of the church and spent money on themselves that is not associated with the church at all and then lied about it.  At the church where I am pastor at there was a pastor many years ago who ended up robbing the church of most of its money and then leaving in the middle of the night.  He has never been seen or heard from again.  I don’t even want to have the church’s checkbook so I will be above reproach and don’t even want access to the church’s money.  I trust our trustees with this. I know that they are faithful and I don’t want to even be responsible for having the church’s checkbook in my possession.  If a pastor has taken advantage of the church’s finances, he is actually robbing God because Jesus is the Head of the Church, not us.  It is His church, not ours.

Stealing/Recycling Sermons

There is nothing worse than plagiarizing someone else’s work.  In college and seminary we were warned that if we were caught plagiarizing someone else’s work, we’d receive an “F” in that course for the semester and possibly face more discipline from the school itself.  I am a writer and I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve seen my material copied and pasted on other websites and had the owners of that website put their own name on it.  And they claim to be Christians and yet they customarily steal from others.  If a pastor is recycling his old sermons or stealing other pastors material from the Internet or books then that pastor should be warned and then if it continues, he should be fired.  The laborer is worthy of his wages; a thief is not.  If the pastor is so lazy that he cannot take the time necessary to study and create his own sermon materials, he shouldn’t be behind the pulpit.  Slothfulness (laziness) is a sin and it’s even worse when it includes stealing from others.  When a church pays their pastor they expect him to earn it.

Conclusion

It is a hard thing to fire a pastor because there are deep relationships that are intertwined among many people in the church and feelings are inevitably going to get hurt but the church board and leaders have a responsibility to God.  As I said earlier, this is not their church and it is not my church.  This is Jesus’ church and He is the Head of it and we are responsible  and accountable to Him and not any man, therefore if a pastor has experienced a time of sexual immorality; if the pastor is getting left of center on the essentials of the faith; if the pastor is operating illegally and unethically; and if a pastor is stealing other materials and not laboring in the word and you have talked with him more than once about it, it may be time to fire the pastor for the church’s sake and really, for his sake too.  Maybe he’ll repent.

2 Responses

  1. Benjamin Liles

    Just curious here, but if a pastor or teacher is using his old material to illustrate a point he’s making in the current message, and giving credit to that, is that okay? When I was taking classes for writing better, I was taught to give credit where it’s due. It would be like: “There is nothing worse than plagiarizing someone else’s work. In college and seminary we were warned that if we were caught plagiarizing someone else’s work, we’d receive an “F” in that course for the semester and possibly face more discipline from the school itself” (from “When is it time to Fire a Pastor.” http://christianmediamagazine.com/when-is-it-time-for-a-church-to-fire-a-pastor/. Wellman, Jack). I give a footnote that I am crediting when I borrow. I’d rather have my bases covered rather than be wrong and possibly get in trouble for plagiarism, and at worst copyright protection. Your advice on the issue would be appreciated. I have heard of you and think highly of you.

    Reply
    • Jack Wellman

      Hello Mr. Liles, and I see your point, but I think it’s fine for someone to use their previous material, and I had never thought about what you said, so that’s a great point. It’s not plagiarism if it’s yours, so yes, good point sir. You are certainly doing what is right Mr. Liles and I appreciate men like you. And thank you for your kind words, and my response is 1 Cor 4:7. All glory to God…none to us oh Lord. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone).

      Reply

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