In late 2005, after many years attendance, my husband and I left the church where we had met and been married. We left with sadness because, although we had received from this church much which was good and life-giving, we had come to realise there was no longer a place for us there. (The senior pastor, himself, had declared this to be the case during one of his Sunday morning sermons!) We knew we were not alone - there had been a steady exodus from this church for some time. The ‘my way or the highway’ approach to church leadership does tend to create casualties.
After some months of searching for a new ‘home’, we started attending a small, family-oriented, independent church, which had originally been established by people from our previous congregation. About six months later, another family from our old church joined us after asking us where we were attending. The friendship between us deepened and the two families became close, spending much of our time together. Things were looking up!
Some years prior to our arrival, this church had experienced an unpleasant episode of conflict involving the pastor, elders and congregants, which had resulted in the pastor and some of the members leaving under rather bitter circumstances. Undaunted by this discovery, we decided to stay and commit to this church. Incredibly, some few months later, tensions arose between the leadership team and the congregation, which resulted in the entire leadership team (pastor and elders) leaving the church!
Can you begin to imagine our distress!?
However we decided to remain, determined to be a blessing to the church. A few months later I accepted a place on the eldership team. Our good friend from our old church also became a part of this team (let’s call him elder J). We were a team of four, three more recent members and one (elder R) who had been a part of the church since its inception.