I have been praying that you are sensing God’s presence during this difficult week for us all. Last night the Church board and I held an emergency meeting and I am writing to inform you that we have come to a difficult decision. Writing this email is one of the hardest things that I have had to do at my time here at Belmont Community Church. Before I tell you of our decision, I felt that it was only fair to explain how we as a Church leadership came to our decision and for me to share with you how I have been affected by your behaviour. In order to maintain clarity I will address the various issues regarding your employment as a pastor at our Church. Before I start I really want to say how difficult this has been for me and Alison, I am not above stating that I cried before I wrote this email. Things started so well when you came on staff, it was a joy to have you around the place and the congregation loved having you. I am still struggling to comprehend what went wrong. But here goes;
Behaviour During Church Services
I have communicated time and time again in our leadership meeting the idea that how we as leaders act, affects the whole congregation. Sundays are meant to be a fun, upbeat and inspiring time. We are trying to create an atmosphere that communicates the idea the gospel is good news and that those who put their faith in God will receive abundant life. Your constant habit of crying and weeping over the fate of our neighbourhood, completely works against this. I have been so confused by your mood swings, one minute you are full of joy – the next you will be weeping for the whole service. After talking to Dr Blackby I am more and more wondering if you suffering from a form of Bi Polar disorder or manic depression, I really encourage you to go and get this checked out. You can be so dark sometimes, which is not attractive to unchurched people and a totally different place to where we are going as a church.
Being a Good Example.
I hear things about where and with whom you hang out. I really do hope that some of the stories that I am hearing are wrong and merely gossip. But I have to admit that some of the people who you bring to church do make me wonder what circles you are mixing in. I certainly hope the stories about the party at Matt’s place are not true. As a single guy it is never a good look to be hanging around with women who work in the adult industry. To turn up to leaders meets smelling of dope can only lead others into bad places. You need to get into an accountability group ASAP.
The Jewish Thing
I totally understand that you were raised in a Jewish home and in the Jewish faith. We loved the service that you put on during passover it was great to hear you sing the psalms so beautifully in Hebrew. The ladies at our Golden Gals ministry loved you teaching them Jewish Dancing. But I really do not understand why you continue to wear your prayer Shawl and yarmulke to church. At the interfaith city dinner Rabbi Rosen told me that you attend synagogue weekly??? He was under the impression that you were a practicing Jew and did not refer to yourself as Christian??? For goodness sake you need to work out where you stand, and who you identify with! Are you Jewish or are you Christian, what team are you playing on? Where do you loyalties lie??? Your behaviour just makes things confusing for people.
The Night at @tomic.
After ripping my hair out for months wondering where to place you, I finally thought that our emerging young adults congregation @tomic would be the best place for you. It is edgy, justice focused, andthey love conversation, it is in a bar, and filled with Christians who don’t like the vibe of our sunday services. But then the morning after you speak – I am inundated with emails from angry young adults telling me that you got all ‘hellfire and brimstone’ on them. They even started a facebook group to keep you away from the bar! Seriously what were you thinking telling them that ‘they will always have the poor with them’.??? Don’t you know that half that crew work for Christian aid organisations? I had to promise them that you would not come back! They said that you were too full on, too fundamentalist.
The Incident at Belmont Reformed Church
After the @tomic incident I was totally at my wits end of what to do with you. I mentioned the incident to my friend Rev Peterson and he said that he would love to have you come and spend a month preaching at his church and that he loved a young preacher who had the guts to talk directly about hell and eternal consequences. I thought all of my problems with you were solved. Then you go there and deliver a bunch of confusing stories that seem to skirt around the issues. Half the congregation walks out and you end up in the car park with the remainder explaining yourself. Rev Peterson is still rope-able, he not only thinks you are unable to preach the gospel he has serious concerns over your theology.
The Incident Last Sunday
And now to the straw that has broken the camel’s back. You know as well as I that it is so hard to get a Preacher like Pastor John Rosetti to speak at our church, he is world class. Ok even for me he can be a little ‘prosperity focused’ but he is such a gifted speaker and the Church was packed. When you overturned his merchandise tables I wanted the ground to eat me up. The damage that you caused to our ATM cash machine in the lobby will put the church back around $10,000. I can put up a with a lot, but vandalism I cannot. Your actions were a direct undermining of my leadership.
So I am writing to inform you that we will be making you redundant. I have with great difficulty convinced the Church board to not press charges and we will not be referring the matter to the police.
I am so heart broken, you are one of the most gifted young men I have met. I find you maddeningly frustrating. I have barely slept since last sunday, I keep wracking my brain trying to figure out why you are like this. I wonder if it is your age, 32 is pretty young for a pastor role at a church our size. I can’t help think that it must be mental health issues, probably the bi polar condition that Dr Blackby referred to.
We don’t want to turf you out on the street so we will be giving you a generous severance package, plus Jane has sent you a card that the staff has signed which includes a gift voucher to Brysons Christian Bookstore.
It will always perplex me why things did not work out. In your heart I know that you mean the best.
Sadly Jesus we must ask that you never come back to our Church.
Yours in him
Pastor Craig Clements
The above is a fictional piece I wrote that was inspired by my friends Al and Deb Hirsch’s book Untamed.