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How to hire, fire pastors, by clerics

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The church, like any other organisation has a purpose, which defines its aspirations and how things are run. There are laid down rules and standards that guide and guard against abuse, as well as prevent derailment from set objectives by key players in the system.

Pastors are revered and are highly regarded in the scheme of things, as they play major roles and are central to the overall wellbeing and progress of the church and its members. But recent happenings in some churches have got some wondering what should be the standard for sacking a pastor. CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

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‘A Priest Can Be Stripped Of His Functions, But Not Due To Failure To Meet Financial Target’
(Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos)

IN the Catholic Church, a priest is not an employee that can simply be sacked. We believe that a priest is configured to be Christ-like and is a priest forever. So, even on the Day of Judgment, he gets a stricter judgment as a priest.

However, he can be stripped of his functions as a priest for different kinds of gross misconduct or moral failure, but certainly not because he failed to meet some financial target.

‘Jesus Standard Is Take Unfruitful Pastor Away And Replace Him’
(Archbishop Joseph Imariabe Ojo, former National Secretary-General, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, (PFN)/Presiding Bishop, Calvary Kingdom Church Int’l, Lagos)

The standard that Jesus, who is the head of the church used and taught should be the standard for sacking any pastor in any ministry, whose leader knows the scriptures and spiritual standard that the Lord has set Himself.

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I will refer to four scriptures as we do justice to the subject matter. First, the natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned (1Corinthians 2:14). 

Two, you do not need human wisdom and academic insights to know the things of God. Only the spiritual can understand spiritual things.

Jesus gave the parable of a farmer, who had nurtured and watered a tree for three years expecting to get fruits from it. When He came after three years and there were no fruits, and the tree unproductive. He ordered that the tree be cut down after years of investment. 

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Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, “these three years I come seeking fruits on this tree and find none, cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” This is the number one scripture for the standard of Jesus. The standard of cut it down. 

The second scriptural standard of Jesus is found in John 15:2. It says, “Every branch in me that bears no fruit he takes away, and every branch that bears fruit he purges it that it may bring forth more fruits.”

Any unfruitful pastor should not hide under sympathisers’ expectations. The standard of Jesus is to take him away and replace him with a fruitful branch.

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The third scripture to look at as Jesus standard is in 1Corinthians 12:7, and it says: “But the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” God gives every one gift and expects him to make a profit. If you are given a branch or church to pastor, you should know that you are expected to make a profit. Note that this profit is not referring to money. It is in all areas of ministry. You must be profitable and accountable. To whom much is given much is expected.

The fourth and last scripture is Matthew 25:30. This is part of the Jesus standard. “Cast Out The Unprofitable Servant Into Outer Darkness.” This is the casting out standard. 

“And cast out the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In this parable of the talents, they were all given talents or money to do business before the master returned. But when he came back, the one that received one talent had hidden his own. And Jesus said if you knew you would have kept the money in the bank so that there would be interest when I returned. Cast him into outer darkness, that is, Throw him away.

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These are the Biblical standards that the Lord Himself set and taught.

‘If A Pastor Fails To Measure Up, He Should Not Find It Vexatious To Be Relieved Of His Post’
(Pastor Ezekiel Joel, Full Salvation Believers’ Assembly International)
 
IF a pastor was expected to, by means of evangelism or soul-winning, prayers, and God’s help work towards increasing church attendance to a certain number, either quarterly, or annually, having been given relevant resources by the headquarters, and having said he had the call of God to be a minister, under that commission, if he fails to measure up, he should not find it vexatious to be relieved of his post, having subscribed ab initio to the terms and conditions of his engagement. There are churches that give two years or more and other parameters for which they can reassign, or disengage their pastors. In some cases, under-performance, scandalous extramarital infractions that could tarnish the church’s image in a community, financial recklessness, malfeasance, pilfering, diversion of money meant for church projects, and other financial malpractices, which should not be associated with clerics, incorrigibility, veering off into false doctrines, syncretism, insubordination to higher authorities in the church could be some of the reasons why a church could sack or disengage pastors in its employment.

It is good to be prepared to pay the price of hard work, sacrifice, prayerfulness, endurance, and fully subscribe to the vision of the ministry before applying to be engaged as a pastor. The church of Christ is raised up to win souls and populate heaven while depopulating the kingdom of darkness by scriptural means. Those who are not cut out to labour to win souls by scriptural methods may have to find other careers or secular occupations. It smacks of religious perfidy and crass irresponsibility to bring one’s church leadership into public opprobrium. Any aggrieved pastor should go to God in prayers and seek another opportunity to serve.

General overseers need to be wary of engaging, and sending to man any of their branches, just any person claiming to be a pastor because some people come into the ministry because they think it is all glamour, and also a place meant for showcasing designers wears and flaunting latest cars. Many are unaware that there’s what we know as silent years, patience, endurance, and labouring sacrificially.

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Let those saddled with the task of engaging new pastors do due diligence, wait on God for grace to discern the spiritual suitability, or otherwise of the prospective pastors. Where there’s no discernment and we are in a hurry to “ordain or consecrate” every Tom, Dick, and Harry, because of expanding mission fulfillment, we may run into this festering scenario.

I beg others who are in the same shoes, elsewhere to read John 15:1-5, 16; Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 13:6-9.

‘Church Must Be Careful In Judging Pastors’ Successes By Amount Of Material Acquisition’
(Most Rev. (Dr.) Isaac Ayo Olawuyi, Archdiocese of Lagos, Methodist Church of Nigeria)

THE church is an assembly of the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is also an organisation. Every denomination has a form of government, constitution, or rules that guides its operations. As a denomination or ministry, it must have pastors and workers who serve in it. Every denomination pays salaries to its full-time pastors, pays for their accommodation, and in some cases, provides them with means of transportation.

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A pastor is a person who is believed to be called by God to win souls to Christ. It is his primary duty to shepherd the people of God, to nurture them by the word of God, and to develop them spiritually. A pastor’s work is mainly spiritual and the goal is to lead believers to heaven. He is unlike a worker in a business organisation.

A pastor’s performance should be measured, or evaluated on the basis of church growth, which should not necessarily be measured in terms of monetary or material acquisition, but rather by spiritual advancement. But the spiritual growth must also be evident in numerical, infrastructural, and financial growth. In this case, there is a thin line between church growth through spirituality and growth through materialism.

Let me sound a note of warning, the church must be careful in judging the pastor’s success by the number of material acquisitions he has made. It has been discovered that there are some parishes with strong numerical strength, but financially inadequate, and there are other parishes with low membership, but which are financially strong

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Furthermore, a pastor should not be treated as a worker in a business organisation. He is a servant of Christ, called to minister God’s grace to the people of God. If a pastor is discovered to have fallen short of his calling, or found to be morally or spiritually inept, the church must follow due disciplinary process to discipline him, restore him, or sack him, depending on the gravity of the offence.

It is wrong to conclude that a pastor is unfruitful or non-performing because he cannot raise enough money for his salary or accommodation. There are some local churches that are regarded as missionary churches. In that case, other well-to-do parishes should be in a position to sponsor them. Sometimes, a pastor may be transferred from a parish to another for a chance to ascertain whether he is deficient, or the reason for non-performance is due to the parish.

There must be standards to discipline or sack a pastor. A pastor should not be treated in a manner of ‘I hire am and fire am’. It is not proper and inhuman to just sack a church worker without prior notice, or warning. How do you expect him to take care of his family? I believe he has a wife and children and to sack him and render him jobless is unchristian.

The arrangement should also be made for church pastors to be registered for pension schemes. Other arrangements such as insurance and retirement benefits should be made for pastors as well. A pastor is a human being, who has a family and other dependents, so why should he just be treated as a thing? Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

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