There was a USA Today story that came across my Google Reader tonight tagged “Southern Baptist Convention.” It was plug for the new Ted Haggard documentary on HBO, but they also quoted LifeWay statistics about pastoral dismissals.
One note: The LifeWay figures are about forced terminations. According to the LifeWay article, “The other thing to consider is that this just represents the best data we can gather on forced terminations. It doesn’t include those who were pressured out.” What’s the difference? Usually guys who resign are closer to repentance, either because their sins are too big for self-deception or they are just more realistic about their chances of getting fired.
Anyway, they list the top five reasons SBC pastors get fired – according to this LifeWay article:
- Control issues (who’s going to run the church)
- Poor people skills
- Churches’ resistance to change
- Pastor’s leadership style being too strong
- Churches already in conflict when the pastor arrived.
I would argue these are all outward effects of neighbor-hate, i.e. we’re failing to live the fruit of the Gospel in our church relationships. Pastors and churches alike need grace – no news here. But what comes next is the gem.
The documentary producer ends up buying a Bible. Why? Because Haggard’s wife is laying down her life to love this notoriously sinful man. The producer is moved by the power of the forgiveness.
Pelosi (the director) said seeing the Haggard family live out the biblical message of forgiveness was so powerful she bought herself a Bible.
So, the fallen mega-church pastor’s wife preaches the most lasting sermon in the whole mess by being a Christian – by forgiving her husband’s sin. God gets the glory even in Haggard’s shipwreck!
Maybe this is a lesson for all the church conflict LifeWay is tracking. If the Gospel can heal the conflict in that marriage, why not humble ourselves and let God heal our churches?
Read the story on USA Today, Christianity Today, or Wikipedia. You should also read Advent With Ted the Loser by iMonk. You can also read what God says in this collection of forgiveness Bible verses.