January is often the month when the GARBC Resource Center receives résumés from pastors who think the Lord may be leading them to new ministries. Maynard Belt, retired representative for the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches, offers pastors valid and invalid reasons for moving to a new ministry.
Valid reasons for leaving (no-brainers)
- Moral or ethical failure. You lose the trust of the flock.
- Doctrinal differences. How can you stay if you disagree doctrinally?
- Unruly family. Paul in his epistle to Titus addressed this situation quite clearly.
- Calling of a confidence vote. In most cases the vote splits the church and accomplishes nothing positive.
- Continual decline in attendance. Maybe another captain can keep the ship afloat.
- Your pulpit voice is no longer fresh. There comes a time when both the pastor and the people need a change.
Invalid reasons for leaving (the Devil’s devices)
- You are tired and discouraged. Maybe you need a little time away.
- You aren’t getting your way. Maybe you are being tested.
- You feel unappreciated. Maybe you need to be humbled.
- The work becomes difficult. Maybe God is trying to stretch you.
- The pay is poor. Maybe God wants you to trust Him more.
- The work schedule becomes unreasonable. Maybe you need to delegate.
- Known problems become greater than expected. No problem is greater than God.
Feasible reasons for leaving (only if your heart is right)
- A persistently restless spirit. The Lord may be shifting your burden.
- Complacency on the part of the church and/or the pastor. You have been together too long.
- A definite direction, accompanied by peace, to another ministry. You have received a positive call.
- Inability to resolve ongoing church conflict. Problems may persist for years due to years of unresolved sin.
- Continued inadequate compensation. You have tried to make a go of it financially, but “ends” are just not being met.Before you throw in the towel, consider the above reasons for leaving, and ask the Lord to give you wisdom in your decision making. Sometimes personal rest and a vacation are needed. A tired body and mind can become easily discouraged. Remember, the greater days of ministry at your church may still lie ahead. Never rule out the Holy Spirit’s working in your life and that of the church!
Grand Rapids, Michigan