Termination Hurts More Than Just the Minister

Termination Hurts More Than Just the Minister

When we hear of a minister being terminated, we may think about a “gang of three” as the instigators and carriers of bad news that a minister must leave.

Or we may think about the minister who was terminated and the family who had their world turned upside down by the very group that called the minister to be their leader and spiritual guide.

I want to call your attention to a third party in this trying experiencethe congregation.

It is often true that a significant number in the congregation may be kept in the dark through this experience.

In fact, the perpetrators of this deed often press for secrecy and silence so that the congregation will never know the details.

This is often done under the guise of not wanting the minister’s good name and reputation hurt within the congregation.

This action is intended to force the resignation or termination and make the reasons look valid.

Or there may be an appeal or veiled threat for the minister to talk to no one about what is occurring, and this is reported as a concern not to hurt the congregation.

Often neither response is the right way for this information to be handled.


A congregation may be given very little consideration while the forces of termination are at work.

The impact of forced termination cannot be underestimated.

To say the congregation is not hurt is a lot like saying that in a divorce and custody trial no one is hurt.

Among the areas of church life that may have long-term effects from a forced termination are the following:










The forced termination of a minister not only impacts the minister but also has long-term implications for the congregation if the issues are not dealt with in a healthy, redeeming way.

The wounded minister moves on, but often the congregation is stuck in an unfinished and/or repetitive process, which hinders its healthy development through all areas of church life.

Conflict happens.

Solutions must be worked out.

When termination is the result, the congregation suffers.


The Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreats for Ministers and Spouses is part of the Pastoral Excellence Program of the Center for Lifelong Learning.

For more information and to register for this retreat, please contact Catherine Ralcewicz, Executive Director at mtm@mtmfoundation.org.


Dr. David Al Myers, DMin retired as the Director of Missions for the Hamilton County Baptist Association, Chattanooga, TN and has served as a member of the MTM Board of Trustees.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Center for Lifelong Learning has partnered with the Ministering to Ministers Foundation to help address the crises of clergy forced termination. If you have experienced a forced termination from your ministry consider attending the Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreats for Ministers and Spouses retreat during September 30-October 3, 2019 for clergy and their spouses at the Center for Lifelong Learning. 


This program is underwritten by the Ministering to Ministers Foundation, Inc., and the Pastoral Excellence Program of the Center for Lifelong Learning under its Lilly Foundation funded Thriving in Ministry initiative.


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