A Healing Experience for Clergy
Author Tim Sledge, in Goodbye Jesus: An Evangelical Preacher’s Journey Beyond Faith, wrote about the silent epidemic of clergy forced termination. Citing a survey reviewed by Leadership magazine, he wrote:
“Squabbles that end in the ouster of ministers are a recurrent and very painful part of church life; congregations are often bitterly divided, with a loss of membership. The survey reported that such dismissals leave pastors and their families wounded spiritually and psychologically, as well as financially, because they frequently must move to find a new position, with children switching schools and spouses changing jobs. Perhaps one of 10 drop out of the ministry entirely after such an episode, the study indicated. The survey showed that many pastors, even those who never left a church involuntarily, work in fear of dismissal. About one-third of the respondents said they believed that it was either somewhat likely or very likely that the major areas of tension in their congregations could lead to an ouster.”
One aftermath of the forced termination trauma is that clergy often become further isolated. Some by choice because of a sense of shame and failure. Others due to the distancing they experience from peers and even denominational staff who ostensibly should be a support system. The feelings of isolation and of being cut off exacerbates the trauma of the forced termination experience.
The Center for Lifelong Learning offers the Healthy Transitions Retreat for Clergy and Spouses for those who have experienced forced termination. Clergy can find a safe supportive network to help process their experience and move toward a healthier response to the aftermath of forced termination experience.
The retreat is affordable: $100 per person or $150 per clergy couple. If you need this experience, join us. If you know of a colleague who needs it, please encourage them to attend.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.