Presence for Appearance

There are a lot of reasons why a person might become an expastor: relocation, family needs, directional change in a fellowship, shift in personal drive or simply God saying, “Not here, not now.”

For me it was a change in direction on the part of the fellowship in which I served. I’m sure there are a lot of expastors who are extremely devoted to God, His word and His commands no matter what. Most would profess they would do whatever it takes to prevent any deviation from His truth.

Sometimes, though, a fellowship might deviate from God’s word to such a degree that by default the person who stands on God’s word finds themselves in opposition to the rest of leadership simply because they are not willing to compromise God’s truth for anyone. To simply speak truth among a fellowship that is floundering in this manner will rub against the status quo and the witness will find themselves isolated in an insurmountable battle they will never win, being labeled difficult, divisive, and idealistic.

This can be a very discouraging and confusing process. We have a faith that calls us to believe in the body and fellowship, to trust and encourage, to sharpen iron against iron, to give grace and to be transparent, and above all, to hold firmly, as Titus 1:9 says, “to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that we can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it”. We believe all these things could and should work towards the success of the church, its growth, health, and ultimately, the glory of God. We believe that if we hold to these truths God will prove Himself faithful and the church will once again set itself on a proper course.

Sometimes, not wanting to concede, we press on, escalating the battle to the point of quandary which eventually will beg the question for leadership, “What do we do with this guy?” Too often a decision is made where the defender of the faith suddenly finds themselves on the outside, an expastor, and the reasons given to the rest of fellowship for his, “moving on to other areas of ministry in the kingdom” are vague, sketchy and flowery at best.

In the end, the fellowship will agree “it’s too bad things didn’t work out”, and “we need to move on in spite of the loss.”

So, some of the reasons for becoming an expastor aren’t necessarily due to personal, economic, goals, or life changes, sometimes it’s the result of simple obedience by choosing to stand in the face of deception.

Unfortunately this particular scenario often goes unnoticed and seldom gets discussed due to the sanctity of maintaining an image of unity in the church. We can’t appear to have any discord that might make people think God isn’t able to maintain a body that functions in harmony and love, thus we choose to sacrifice presence for appearance.

I’m happy to say that, after a number of years, my wife and I found ourselves in a fellowship that has totally won our hearts with their love, openness and a tenacity to preach God’s word with integrity.

Wounds have healed and we’re healthy because there’s still work to do, a gospel to be preached and a world living in darkness. We’re still able to serve, teach, speak and lead worship from time to time by invitation simply because God has determined the calling on our lives and the body of Christ, the Church, and for that we are blessed.

POSTED ON July 25, 2012

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Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors, a community that strives to offer help, healing, and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders, and author of Why Pastors Quit. As a media professional with more than 15 years of experience, he has developed marketing and brand strategies that have revolutionized churches and businesses, both large and small. Bo left full-time ministry after serving more than a decade in churches in Oregon, California, and Iowa. He is also a writer, filmmaker, woodworker, husband and father.