I want to share a story with you about a pastor who had the courage to put his convictions ahead of his career.
It was just bout five years ago that God opened his eyes. He started to see that the way the modern American Church was doing things had very little to do with following God. As he began to learn more he realized that his new beliefs and convictions were at odds with his job as the lead pastor of a local church.
After a lot of agonizing soul searching and praying he made a hard decision. He went before his church one Sunday morning and told them that he thought the church as a whole, himself included, had been doing things all wrong. He even said he was to blame recognizing that he himself had been their leader.
After doing his best to provide a brief explanation of what God had been putting on his heart, he also communicated his understanding that this would mean the end of his tenure as their pastor and he would expect them to start searching for a replacement. In the meantime he promised to fulfill his duties, as he had promised when he took the job, if they wanted him to do so. He even told them he wouldn't show up for service that night to give the church a chance to talk about what they wanted to do.
As he finished speaking that morning there was only dead silence. Although he felt liberated that morning, he knew he had just sacrificed his only means to earn a living for his family.
The next morning their head deacon and one of their more prominent church leaders walked into his office. He was prepared to hear the worst, but he was informed that they wanted him to stay on until the church could find a new pastor. It was what he had expected and he was honestly a little relieved since it gave him a paycheck while he tried to find another job.
A month went by and during that time there didn't seem to be any progress made in hiring a new pastor. Their congregation just didn't seem to like any of the candidates. Another month went by and still no progress. During this waiting period he began to share sermons that explained his newfound convictions regarding what the Biblical Church should look like. Week after week he shared as much as he dared with his congregation, careful not to provoke them, but simply to share from God's Word the things he had become convinced of over the last few months.
Finally one morning he was sitting in his office when the same head deacon and church leader walked into his office again. He knew his time was up. What he heard next shocked him to his very core. They told him that the church had voted and they wanted him to stay on. They told him they couldn't promise what would happen, but the people in the church had been convicted and moved by his sermons. For the time being they wanted to try and walk this new path alongside him.
Even though he had communicated his intentions to find another source of employment, the church decided to continue to pay his salary. That was five years ago. These days his role has changed. He is more of a discussion leader. Their services are more informal. Everyone is allowed to participate. As their pastor his time is largely spent leading discussions on Sunday mornings and ministering to people around town, wherever God directs him. He rarely invites any of the people he serves to attend his church because he doesn't want them to think that's his goal. He simply wants them to see Jesus.
Today the church is active in the surrounding neighborhoods. They actively serve others and take time to love people. They don't invite them to church. They just demonstrate the love of Christ to them.
When another friend recently spoke to this pastor about wanting to start a house church in his home, this pastor gladly referred a few people from his congregation to come alongside him.
The fact that I'm blogging about this person is only possible because I have agreed to honor his wishes to remain anonymous. Much of it wasn't even written by me, but by another friend who sent me an email about this man's story. Once we convinced this pastor that his story was certain to inspire many other pastors who were in the same boat as he once was, he agreed to allow us to share his story. By his request we have withheld his name, the name of his church, and even the name of the State in which he lives.
I found his story encouraging. Hope you do as well.
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