GCSDA Corruption #65

ARTICLE "What to Do With a Problem Pastor"

The following article was taken out of the February 24th 2000 edition of the Adventist Review under the title heading, "What to do With a Problem Pastor." This article contains many cleverly laid Catholic principles within it. The person who wrote it therefore is either an infiltrating Catholic, or has been trained by such. See if you can tell what are the problems generated from this article.

Note: Many would be saying that it is like "critical people" to be looking at the "problems" in others as even exemplified in this expose of the astonishing Catholicism shown constantly in the Adventist Review. The best remedy for that assumption is to read the foregoing article without being critical of the people who are exposing it. There would not even be a trademark law suit telling the world that a certain independent ministry was a "hate church" if the Adventist leadership did not have a critical spirit, but had their minds totally upon Christ as they regularly preach to true Adventists!


NOW THAT you've read it in the Adventist Review, you can breathe a sigh of relief. It's finally out in the open: some pastors are less than perfect. It should come as no surprise, of course, for we know, if we think about it, that they aren't all given the same gifts and talents any more than we are, and we've all gossiped about our pastors' problems on occasion. The odd thing is that the mere existence of problem pastors is seldom admitted in print.

I think that one of the glories of the Seventh-day Adventist employment system is that pastors don't stay in one place very long (I write as a fourth-generation preacher's kid). This means that pastors can use effective sermons again. It means that they can move on before they've worn out their welcome. It means that they can escape problem parishioners.

It is sad, of course, to say goodbye to a well-loved pastor, but chances are that the next one will also be good, though of course with different strengths and a different style.

What happens, though, when the new pastor makes you long for the previous ones? This is certainly not an unusual situation. The seminary students who get C's in homiletics and church history and Pauline Epistles still expect to be hired. I suspect that there are notoriously boring preachers who are passed around from church to church like hot potatoes. Others ruin their welcome by siding with one faction over another or making an insensitive remark to a 3:00 a.m. caller.

A problem pastor can make one's spiritual life miserable. It doesn't have to be that way, though. There are ways of dealing with such people.

A Promising Start

Let me tell you about a pastor I had and what some of us did about him. He'd been at my church for two years and was the third pastor I'd known in the five years my family and I had been members there.

The first one was everyone's friend and was good at weaving current events and ideas into his sermons, but left for a larger church in another state.

The second one preached brief but beautiful sermons on the life and love of Christ, but left to become a hospital chaplain.

After that we were without a paid pastor for 10 months. Our head elder proved to be a dedicated shepherd, however; some of us took turns preaching; and we really did very well on our own. Finally our new pastor arrived, billing himself----and signing his letters----"Minister of Reconciliation." I've never met a preacher named Smith, so let's call him Elder Smith.

There are six Adventist churches in my area, and our church was packed with visitors when Elder Smith first preached. He had promised that with the help of the Holy Spirit he would reconcile the factions in our church, and I think we were all eager to see that happen. (Out of fairness, I should explain that while I considered myself a conservative Christian, I was a teacher of "The Discussion Class"---- though we followed the lesson quarterly---- and I'd heard that some members of our congregation considered members of that class dangerously liberal. But this story happened a decade ago, and though the Holy Spirit was working on me, I had not yet been born again.)

A Great Disappointment

My friends and I tried to give Elder Smith the benefit of the doubt, but it soon became evident that he was rather different from our previous pastors. I have just erased from my computer several pages detailing his faults, as a recitation of them would serve no beneficial purpose. Suffice it to say that our complaints, whether justified or not, ranged from the trivial to the profound---- from odd pronunciations and overlong sermons to preaching what we considered heretical views and using prayer and the podium to manipulate us and have his own way.

A number of people transferred their membership to other churches or stopped attending. I found myself listening to his sermons in order to criticize rather than in search of a blessing, then sneaking out of the sanctuary without shaking his hand because I found him so distasteful. Many of us tried to counsel with him, but he didn't seem to hear what we said. I no longer came to church with joy, but with dread.

Shortly after my family and I moved to town, we were invited to join a group of families that met after church every other week to enjoy a potluck tions for our daily lives, then closed by joining hands and praying. Our group was a great blessing to us all.

After Elder Smith became our pastor, however, things changed. For 18 months our attempts at Bible study always degenerated into gripe sessions about Elder Smith, his latest astonishing errors, his attempts to manipulate us, and his inability to listen to us. It led to a bad spirit among us. We became more irritable. At home my wife and I seldom mentioned or thought about Elder Smith, but in our group he was the chief topic of conversation----we talked about him more than we spoke of Jesus--and so we came to find the group unsatisfying.

Confess Your Sins

Then we decided to do something. We weren't going to take it anymore. No, we weren't going to take our complaints to the conference president---- we wouldn't wish unemployment on anyone. No, we weren't going to try to pass him off on some other congregation. There was a better way.

The credit--or at least the human credit----must go to our group leader, whom I'll call Quentin. One Sabbath, after reading a passage from Acts, Quentin closed his Bible and called to our attention the fact that our meetings weren't very much fun anymore, that our feelings about Elder Smith had been poisoning them for many months. He suggested that we discuss inviting Elder Smith to meet with us and talk over the problem.

While we agreed with his analysis of Elder Smith's effect on our group, our response to his proposal was a torrent of angry comments and an insistence that nothing good could come of it.

Then the first miracle happened. Gradually we calmed down, and one by one----as our imaginations strained to encompass the possibility----we began to imagine such a meeting. It would have to include a good meal. We would calmly try once again to reason with him and ask for his reactions to our comments.

We saw, then, that it wouldn't do. We had all talked with him before, all tried to change him, with little benefit. But who were we to try to change him? Were we perhaps being presumptuous?

[According to this author, it is presumptuous for members to think of changing their pastors. Did anyone understand that many of the members are Protestants (new General Conference translation: critical) because of the presumptuous attitude of the Catholic-minded leadership to demand to change the members and their structure they regularly fund through hard work? Who can even tell this author about the fact that it is presumptuous to attempt to change the people against their wills and in violation of everything they had been taught when growing up in this church? Pose this question to your new leaders. They will likely ignore it or then return to you a very critical spirit.]

It was clear, after all, that whatever we thought of him, the majority of church members, especially those who had not had our educational opportunities, loved him and felt blessed by his sermons.

Perhaps it was more important that we be changed than that he be changed. This idea opened new possibilities. I had long felt that I was so intent on listening for error in Elder Smith's sermons that I could not open myself to God's Spirit, who might after all be working in Elder Smith's words. Could we confess to him our resentments, then ask the Holy Spirit to take them away? After all, James 5:16 commanded us: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (NIV).

The thought was all the more breathtaking for being uncharacteristic of us. As we gathered in a circle to pray, we were, for the first time in ages, filled with hope and excitement and a sweet spirit of submission to God's will. I felt a strong urge to wash Elder Smith's feet, and my closed eyes filled with tears.

Unreconcilable Reconciler

Our good intentions were dampened when we learned that Elder Smith's first reaction to Quentin's proposal was negative. He felt himself much wronged by our lack of support at best and active opposition at worst, and he was not eager to be harassed and harangued on a Sabbath afternoon. Quentin finally convinced him to meet with us----how can a "Minister of Reconciliation" honestly refuse an opportunity for reconciliation? But Elder Smith refused to do so until the conclusion of our church's evangelistic series, six weeks away. We had asked that he bring his wife, whom we all liked immensely, so that she too could be blessed, but he refused, saying that he didn't want her hurt.

Each of the next two times that our group met, our meeting with Elder Smith was the chief topic of conversation. In preparation for the meeting, we had agreed that we would not criticize him anymore. Still, each discussion began with anger at his hesitancy and disbelief of our good motives.

Again, though, as we talked, our annoyance faded and our hearts were filled with hope and joyful anticipation. A miracle was going to happen, and all of us, even the most bitter, were talking of it and praying for it.

A week before the scheduled meeting, Quentin called to tell us that Elder Smith was growing increasingly worried about it. I wrote him a note explaining that we weren't going to challenge him but wanted rather to beg his apology and ask God's Spirit to change our hearts. I also urged him to bring his wife along, because I was sure that it would be a spiritual high point of her year.

Fear and Distrust

On the Friday night before our meeting, Quentin called to say that Elder Smith would not be eating with us and spending the afternoon with us, but would stay for only an hour and would bring as witnesses a local elder and the church treasurer. Did he think we were plotting to murder him? It was insulting! What was this cowardice, this refusal to trust in God's Spirit? My first reaction was to say that I would not be attending, as I could see no good coming from such a brief meeting. But wasn't I too doubting the Spirit? Quentin finally talked me into at least coming to the potluck dinner. I began to pray.

The next day the evangelistic series came to an end as several people were baptized and several more made their stand for God. When we gathered together after church, however, the mood of our group was dismal. We had all imagined a specific place, time, order of events, and result, and to change the time and order threw us all off balance and made us doubt the possibility of a good result. Several members of the group announced that they would be leaving before Elder Smith arrived at 4:00.

At 3:00 Quentin called us to order. As in the previous three meetings, we started off upset but gradually cooled down. We ended up kneeling in prayer, expressing both our doubts and our hopes, and as we prayed our doubts slipped away. "I think it's going to work," I said as we rose.

Confession and Reconciliation When Elder Smith arrived, 15 minutes late, none of us had left. I was delighted to see that he had brought his wife with him. Everyone seemed a bit uneasy, but we took our seats. Quentin led us in prayer, then asked my wife, Margaret, who is a peacemaker, to explain why we had asked Elder Smith to come. After she did so succinctly, Quentin told of how our spirit of criticism had been changed in the previous weeks. He then gave us each an opportunity to speak.

I told Elder Smith that I knew I had hurt him, and when, and that while I had apologized in writing, I knew my actions had erected a barrier between us. I told him I had tried to change him, but now saw that I would do better to pull the log out of my own eye. I told him I was tired of avoiding him and of cringing when I couldn't avoid a meeting. I told him that I sensed that there must be blessings in his sermons, but that my tendency to criticize was keeping me from finding them. I told him I was tired of resenting him and of being poisoned by my resentment. I begged his forgiveness and God's. I also begged his wife's forgiveness for the hurt I had caused her by my criticism of her husband, even though I had nothing but affection and admiration for her.

Each of us asked Elder Smith's forgiveness, and he forgave us each. I had feared that he might attempt to monopolize the meeting, as he had so often done in the past, but his response was gentle and generous. His witnesses sat silently.

When we had confessed, we turned once more to God. One by one we prayed. I asked God to send His Holy Spirit down on us, to let us feel Him running through us, taking away all resentment, and even as I asked I felt the Spirit flowing from hand to hand and filling me with His power. As I said "Thank You," I felt so overwhelmed with awe and ecstasy that I could hardly say the words.

When we rose, I felt like a new person. "It's a miracle," I said.

[I AM CATHOLIC NOW!! I have trusted solely to the establishment's decisions! I am ready to lose my liberties!! BUT I FEEL GREAT!!]

"I feel completely cleansed. I knew it would work. I knew God would do it."

The Joy of Acceptance

What an experience! What a privilege! What a joy! God had taken care of our problem pastor not by changing him but by changing us. Elder Smith still said outrageous things on occasion, and he didn't cut his sermons down to 35 minutes. We didn't necessarily agree with everything he said and did. But now we could listen for God's voice in his voice. Now our church and our Bible study group were restored to us. Now we felt clean again and open to God's will. I don't know if he'd changed his ways or we'd changed our way of seeing them, but it turned out that despite his problems he was really quite a nice guy and not a bad preacher.

There's no way around it: there are plenty of problem pastors, and most of us will get one now and then. By God's grace, though, we can bear them, accept them, even learn from them. We can welcome them and encourage them. And perhaps through our love and the Holy Spirit's working we may even help them a little.

Ed Christian teaches English and Bible at Kutztown University and is a lay preacher for the Pennsylvania Conference.

Elder Smith still said outrageous things on occasion.

As you can see in this article, there was only a problem with the members. The article dwelt on the fact that the members were critical of the pastor. IT ALSO STATED THAT THE PASTOR ACCEPTED A CRITICAL SPIRIT OF THOSE MEMBERS WHO COULD NOT TOLERATE HIS INTOLERANCE, for the new movements changing Adventism, as prophesied IS INTOLERANT. The Pastor criticized them also. That is one major indicator where anyone can tell whether or not a movement is from God. The changes being forced upon the Adventist Church being announced in all its literature are intolerant. The new Adventist leadership are DETERMINED that you must have their revisions whether you like it or not. Without a problem, they instantly hide this feature about them by accusing others who demand to preserve the Adventist Church with their attributes. THIS IS CONSISTENT JESUIT TACTICS. That is how you detect Jesuits as was historically. NOT BY BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS! DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO FOOL YOU UPON THIS POINT!!

The whole concept of this article is Roman Catholic Natural Law. Remember the hearings to institute Clarence Thomas to the bench of the Supreme Court? Remember hearing Clarence Thomas often mention the phrase "Natural Law?" Natural Law is the premise that all human beings must submit to the order that is imposed upon them. The Protestant Reformation opposed this concept, and that is what bought the freedoms the world has been enjoying for more than two centuries. The above article was designed to cheat people out of issues very crucial to their very being. The idea was to surrender to the pastor under all conditions. The pastor himself is supposed to be foremostly less of a "critical spirit" than any member, for he is a shepherd. The article completely ignores the fact that the pastor does have a "critical spirit" as does the new General Conference leaders. The issue here is to force the church establishment to acquire what the church MUST HAVE whether or not anyone likes it: THE CHURCH MUST CHANGE TO AN ECUMENICAL ESTABLISHMENT. The only way to do this is to show people that Christianity is ONLY CATHOLIC! You cannot afford to be anything else and accept a "critical spirit." YOU MUST UNDERSTAND, according to the apostates, THAT THE "SPIRIT" OF WHAT YOU SAY IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ACCURACY OF WHAT YOU SAY (This is a Jesuit concept brethren). According to them, it is far better to say, "God bless you brethren! May I lovingly suggest that you keep Sunday?" Than to spit the following words: "IF ANY MAN WORSHIP THE BEAST AND HIS IMAGE HE SHALL HAVE NO REST DAY NOR NIGHT IN THE FLAMES OF HELL!" That is why they are now speaking softly and kindly to you while they take apart every foundation of your church!"

ENDor evangelism, a heart for reaching out beyond their friendship groups. -See http://www.gccsda.com/news/communique/images/Summer04.pdf for complete document