I’ve grown up in a minister’s home and I’ve been a minister all of my adult life and I’ve known many inisters. I can tell you why most of them have to leave churches.
Sometimes there’s a scandal, where the pastor slept with the organist, or stole money, or worse. I’ve known of at least two ministers who faked their deaths so they could just disappear. Sometimes it’s a happier circumstance where he is offered a bigger opportunity, or perhaps by some miracle, he or she gets to retire.
Mostly preachers leave because someone doesn’t like them. It’s always a vocal minority that gets a voice when the pastor has been at a church long enough to have hit a slump. Usually, that’s the third year.
Usually, the majority like the minister just fine but for the sake of peace they passively withdraw their support of him and hope he’ll just disappear like the two guys I mentioned above. So he picks up his belongings, pulls his wife and children out of their lives and hopefully finds someplace else to go. This has happened to me a couple of times and it’s happening again.
Was I right or wrong? Did I do well or poorly? It doesn’t matter. Someone wanted me gone and the congregation expects me to be a sacrificial lamb for the sake of their peace.
Am I a good man? Am I moral? Or did I practice evil? Again, it doesn’t really matter. Just as long as people stay comfortable.
Will this hurt my wife and children? Well that would be a shame, but when it comes down to it, they don’t care.
Perhaps there is something here that would explain why preachers self destruct. And perhaps it’s also a symptom of churches that just sort of hang on but never grow much.
It certainly explains why most preachers’ children never set foot inside a church building when they grow up--unless for some reason beyond my understanding they’re called into the ministry.