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My Long, Convoluted Church-job Story


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OK... here goes.


I returned to my native state, after having lived elsewhere for 3 years, in 2003. In 2006, my wife and I began attending a Baptist church near our home. I was singled out from the first as a serious student of the Bible who was also zealous for his faith. I was recognized by the congregation and the church leadership as a person who represented the best of what a young Christian man should be. All the time we were attending church during this period, the church was undergoing a search for a new youth pastor. Just when my wife and I began toying with the idea that I should approach the leaders about the full-time ministry position, others in the church were approaching the pastor about hiring me, all without my knowing. Long story short, the leaders decided to give me 6 months to work with the youth and children's departments and see how things progressed before they committed to hiring me full-time. After 6 months, the leaders voted to hire me. At the time, my wife and I were living in a home that my parents took out a mortgage on, having spent over $100,000 (yes, one hundred thousand dollars) on the down-payment and improvements. The leadership of the church insisted that we move instead into a home that the church owns. My parents, understandably upset, agreed to sell the home they paid for when we moved. The church compensated me weekly and provided:


Paid utilities (water, electric, heat, etc)

Paid family health insurance (medical, dental and vision)

Paid company cell-phone usage (more on that later)


My wife and I were basically living rent-free, bill-free (with the exception of phone and internet, which I paid) and I had expense accounts for any other costs I might have incurred as a result of work.


Meanwhile, certain people in the church had been volunteering in various youth and children's department roles while there was no full-time youth pastor. These people continued in their roles AND continued to act autonomously, as if I were not the head of their department. Needless to say, the changes I tried to implement were either ignored or complained about. Little by little, as these people griped about the 'new guy and who does he think he is', my various roles were delegated to other people so while I remained in charge on paper, I had no role in real life. At least 6 times in the span of 2 years, I was summoned to my boss' office to be told that someone in the church had gone to him and complained about my work practices and how they could not work with me. When I asked why these people were not instructed to approach me personally, as per the bible, I was told not to be so literal and not to set so high of a standard; after, all, they were just human. Suffice it to say that I was very upset at the gossiping and tale-telling that went on behind my back as I tried to do my best at my job.


The leadership of the church, beginning to see me as a renegade (because I did not, for instance, purchase a preset curriculum from their favorite publisher but rather wrote my own), began requiring attendance at monthly meetings so that they could review my "progress". Among the senior pastor's 'observations' at one such meeting were things like:


Leads people to think in areas that are not accurate (his words; wtf?)

Avoids work that requires physical labor (i.e. I did not 'pitch in' at church work-days; I have 3 hernias and an arrythmia!)

Does not have a heart for this work (when I spent time with members of the youth group nearly daily; at least 3-4x a week)


I was asked whether I thought I was doing a good job. I told the chairman of the board that I had submitted at least 15 proposals for new activities and evangelistic events (as I was directed to), and that every one of those proposals had been either rejected or somehow 'lost in the shuffle'. I further told the board that if they would let me do my job and stop allowing the complaining and gossiping to go on, I could guarantee them that the young people they were so concerned about would get involved and STAY involved in the life of the church in the future. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was too bold, too idealistic and too unreasonable. With time and age, I would mellow out and stop thinking so highly of myself and not make such outlandish statements.


After that meeting, I felt as though the writing was on the wall. I had been unhappy for some time, but of course, with two children and a pregnant (at the time) wife, I could not leave a job with everything paid for. Besides, my wife and I still wanted to believe that we were doing 'the lord's work' and didn't want to abandon the young people we had worked so well with.


Here's where it gets really fucked up: after that last meeting where I was so emphatic about doing my job and not having any support from the leaders, suddenly three young women from the church (whom I worked closely with) went as a group and complained to the pastor about their working relationship with me. These were young women who regularly visited my home, were friends with my wife and kids and ate dinner with us weekly. SOMEHOW, here's the sequence of what happened:


1) These three young women, all of whom knew me as a pastor and a confidant, met as a group to complain vehemently about things that had never been brought up before as even a minor irritance. Not ONE of them had ever had so much as a cross word with me.


2) The women allegedly went to one of my volunteers to complain; he told them in no uncertain terms to see me personally or shut up.


3) The three women went to the pastor's home (literally about 50 feet away from mine, sharing the same parking lot) WHILE I WAS HOME NEXT DOOR and complained to him. ALLEGEDLY, the pastor told them to take their complaints up with me. Again, this never happened.


4) After their meeting, which was a Sunday night, I got called into the boss' office on Monday morning. I was given, I kid you not, a 10-MINUTE LECTURE about how leaders who have staff who are unhappy and complaining have no leadership skills and the confidence in the leader is lost and so on... all BEFORE he even told me there was a complaint from these people. THEN he proceeded to tell me about the nature of the latest complaint. When I asked, again, why I was not approached personally and privately, I was told "they were told to, but what can you do?" I was asked what I wanted to do about the deterioration of my working relationship with these people, and I told the pastor it was time to cut my losses and resign. There was NO response. He said not a word and simply stared at me as though this was exactly what he expected to hear me say. He then asked me if I could have my wife and 3 young children OUT of the church's property and gone by the end of that particular month (roughly 25 days). I agreed because I had no choice but to try and hurry out as fast as I could.


Oh, yes, and... FYI, we NEVER had 100% of the membership of the deacon board at even their required monthly meetings because of distance and work schedules. After I resigned, the NEXT DAY, EVERY ONE OF THEM was present at a meeting that supposedly only got called after I resigned. (I call bullshit!)


I had 4 weeks to find a new job that would pay all the bills I would re-incur, plus rent/mortgage, find a place to live that would not need a mortgage or credit check (my credit is shot), move all our shit and do it all on our own. I was offered one week of severance for every 6 months I worked (that made three weeks, of which they kept one to pay what they thought were unnecessary charges on my cell bill).



making less than $10 an hour at a temp job

$600 a month rent

several hundred dollars a year in car insurance

no health coverage except the bare minimum offered by my state's poor-people program

phone, gas, electic, water bills already piling up

gas, as you all know, nearly 4 bucks a gallon


All this with children 6, 4 and 3 months and my wife.


I went in with the feeling that we would all work together for some noble goals. When I left, I felt as though I had been used for the things I was good at (I was given all the leeway I wanted to sing and lead music at the church, but was not encouraged to start young adult groups or take the teens out into the streets witnessing; these things were different than the church had always done and considered radical and subversive). I was rejected in the sense that I never had a person on my side in any of the disagreements or policy issues that came up; I always felt as though I were alone and trying to fight 'city hall'.


You want the best part? Here's another tidbit for those who like conspiracy stories: The summer of 2007, I was told NOT to run the Vacation Bible School program; it would be run by a couple who used to beong to the church who had 'more experience'. A few weeks before the alleged last complaints, that SAME couple (who some faction of the church had wanted to hire instead of me) arrived for a 'visit' one Sunday. They went to dinner with the pastor... and as soon as I moved out of the church's house, ALL OF A SUDDEN, these people had 'hit some financial rough times and needed a place to live, so we're going to let them move into the youth pastor house'. A month or so later, their daughter calls up my best friend (who along with his wife had taken over the youth leadership) and she just HAPPENS to mention that her dad had talked to the pastor about 'the youth job'. That's funny... these people HAD a ministry job at another church! NOW, this couple is 'overseeing' the youth programs in a 'lay capacity' (i.e. not on the payroll). I bet soon enough, those friends of mine get shoved out for this couple just like I did.


I'm guessing that when I got the job instead of these other people, they had to try and find a way to get them back and get rid of me. I'm out of their hair and out of the state now, and I'll hopefully never have to lay eyes on any of them again.


Want another good one? There are people in the church who are so mad at me, thinking this is all MY doing, that they call asking for my wife and kids but never about me, and they address letters to my wife and kids specifically, BY NAME, but never mention me at all.


I'm up shit-creek financially and I have been depressed and SO angry; I am consoling myself with the knowledge that this was their way of screwing me... they can all go to their imaginary hell and fuck themselves in the bargain.


That's it. Any details I left out or non-sequiturs or gaps in the tale, just ask.

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Wow...classic politics of a church.


Welcome to the board, for what it's worth. I think you'll find quite a bit of enjoyment in the discussions here, I know I have. Here's to the universe giving something back and helping you on your path.

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Thanks for the welcome; I've been a member for some time now. I love your pic; I used to love 'Good Times'. I've deconverted altogether and am following the path of the Buddha. Things will work as they will; I am prepared. Thank you for your kind words.


Amitabha (blessings),



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Ha ha, I never claimed to be observant...I'm new to the board, so I just assume most everyone else is too ;) Sorry bout that.


Buddhism is very interesting and is something I'd like to learn more about...nothing wrong with broadening one's horizons after escaping the stifling box of Christianity.



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Wow, that's gotta hurt.


I would compare that to a bitter divorce. I wish you the best of luck digging yourself out of that hole.


When my ex-SIL put the boots to my brother he was lost, he floundered and spent a lot of time trying to make sense of it all. He re-engaged his faith. Then after he found a decent job, he got cocky and said something to the boss that got him fired. Then he floundered again trying to understand how he could have fouled up. He wanted to launch a wrongful dismissal suit against a large corporation with a distinct reputation for burrying people with legal paper. All the while, he's been in and out of court with his ex, fighting over past debts and financial settlement. It seems to never stop and he told me that he plans to collect a moderate sum from his ex that was never settled and owed (documented) to our mom for a house loan.


I'm left thinking, if he'd spent all that energy on future opportunities, he'd have more than enough money to compensate for making earlier settlements and avoiding court AND he'd be happier.


Please don't let that happen to you LB. Look forward to the future. You're young. Make it happen.


In any case, we're here for you! Good luck!



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Shit, L.B., I'm so sorry for all that crap...I really hope things work out for you. I have to admit that I can't make heads or tails out of what you've written; it's all so confusing. That must have been hell to live through...

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I am sorry, brother. You didn't deserve that. The church is full of shifty, close-minded people.


I hope you can find your way out of your conundrum.


Namaste. (I am not a Buddhist btw, but I watch a lot of LOST).

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This is why I'm here. You know, I believe there is a depth to our consciousness that can only be tapped when we share with one another. It's like what Mongo just said: I'm young, why should I waste my energies on hate and floundering around trying to 'prove' anything to anyone who did me wrong? Fuck them. See, I KNEW that, and yet it took that little prodding from Mongo's words to really stir up that positive feeling.


There's an infinite depth to the collective consciousness (for lack of a better term). Some people say we have to 'learn' what we do not 'know'; I say it's just a matter of bringing it out of each other.


Thank you.





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Damn, L.B., you and your family were screwed big time! Sounds like the church feels guilty about the collateral damage to your family, but doesn't give a flying fig about doing you wrong.


There were some petty, mean-spirited stupid things I used to see people doing at the church that I'd just shake my head at.


There are plenty of Christians who think they can act anyway they want, because they believe god has forgiven them. They cherry pick what they want from the Bible or their "relationship" with the invisible sky king.


I know it's a bitch to be going through the circumstances you face, and I hope you are able to get through all the tough times and look back on your time with the church as just a bad memory.


It's really no surprise, unfortunately, that church people would act that way. People so talk about god's peace, love, hope, forgiveness. But the Bible god did plenty of twisted and depraved things to humanity (starting off with not protecting them from the devil/serpent in the garden) that has been written in the scriptures. Jesus said he had come not to bring peace but the sword, and to divide familes against each other. And he threatened to cast those who disagree with him, and the vast majority of humanity — into hell.


Thankfully, it's all a make-believe fairy tale. But far too many people take it literally. Many of us posting on this board did, at one time.


I know it's all much easier to see in hindsight. I was swallowed up in the Southern Baptist thing for a while, too, before finally coming to my senses about this imaginary Bible god and his eratic followers.


I wish you and your loved ones all the best,


Alpha Centauri

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My rage goes too deep for words.


About those letters that address your wife, and all your kids by name, but conspicuously leave out your name. Do those people care for more than politics? I understand that in addition to recognizian and love your wife and kids need: a home, food, clothing, health care.


Do any of these people who pretend to love your family so much contribute a penny toward the provision of these life necessities? If not, I think you can count their love as being worth less than the paper those letters are written on and the ink used to write them. If, by any chance, they use expensive shiny paper or cards with fuzzy teddy-bears and butterflies and flowers stuffed in fancy envelopes, so much greater the hypocrisy. That's my take on it. They could have bought a good solid chicken salad sandwich for someone with that money.

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L. B.,


Having been screwed over by the politics of a church, though not to the extent you were, my thoughts are with you. Hang in there, heal, and get on with your life without the load of the imaginary bs of xianity.

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