They're voting on the preacher at the end of today's worship service. He may be looking for a job before noon. Or, it could work out well.
Either way, the pastor and his wife have turned it all over to the Lord, and while it would be catastrophic in some ways to have their lives turned upside down this way, their focus is on the Lord and not man. Here is some of what he told the church before the vote.
"I'm glad to see so many in Weak Sister Church today. A friend of mine says there are two ways to get a big crowd in church: welcome a new preacher or run the old one off.
"Some of you haven't been to Weak Sister in a while. I am sincerely glad to see you here. I do have a special word for you, but not yet. Please bear with me a few moments while I address the believers in the room.
"No matter how you plan to vote, my friends, what we are doing today is not about me.
"I know you've been told it was all about me, whether I'm to continue as your pastor. And that much is true. It's very possible I could be fired this morning.
"You need to know that either way this vote goes, my family and I are fine. We have never looked to the church—or any group in the church—as our resource, but to the Lord. He alone is our strength. He called us into this ministry and He sent us to this church. And even if you decide the Lord made a mistake and vote to terminate our employment, the Lord is faithful and we are held in the palm of His hand.
"That said, there are much larger issues at stake here.
"If this vote today is not about me, then what is it about?
"I'm glad you asked."
1. What we do here today determines the future of this church. You get to decide whether this church remains weak or begins to grow strong and thrive.
A neighbor told me something the other day. "Have you noticed that the two towns nearest us have large healthy, thriving churches? And while our town is the same size as theirs, this church is one-tenth their size and always in an uproar over something. Why is this?"
He answered his own question. "Pastor, Weak Sister Church has an infection that keeps it from growing and prospering for the Lord. It has a small group of self-appointed leaders who insist on calling the shots, and who run preachers off when they do not cooperate. They are killing that church."
He added, "Weak Sister Church will never thrive until you get the infection out. That group must be faced down and put out of business."
That's what this is about, whether a small group shall continue to keep this church in a strait-jacket or whether you as the congregation decide to free it from their grasp and set this church loose to become all the Lord intends.
2. What we do here today determines the blessings of God upon this church. Jesus said, "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them" (John 13:17).
Don't miss that. The blessings of heaven are given not to people who say they love the Lord, not to those who learn and study and pray or a hundred other things. God's blessings are promised only to those who obey, who "do these things."
Paul told the Corinthians, "For to this end I also wrote, so that I might know that you are proving yourselves by whether you are being obedient in all things" (2 Cor. 2:9).
My friends, the Lord is not going to bless a church that mistreats the very servants He sends to them. That's why I say it's not about me. It's about what kind of church you want this to be and whether you want God's blessings upon this congregation.
3. What we do here today determines whether we honor Jesus Christ or not. Jesus said, "I will build My church" (Matt. 16:18b).
Did you get that? Jesus said He is both the owner and the operator of the church.
He owns it. Acts 20:28 says God bought it with His own blood.
He operates it. He will build it. That Acts 20:28 passage says pastors are appointed by the Holy Spirit to be the overseers of the church. Hebrews 13:17 says the pastors will give account to God for members of the congregation—A scary thought. Don't miss this: if He holds us accountable for you, He must have given us responsibility for you.
I need to say something to every person in this building, and then I want to say a word to those of you who don't normally come to church but have been asked to show up today to vote to fire the preacher.
To the leadership team of this church: my friends, thank you for your faithful and visionary service to the Lord's work here. But you need to know, this is not your church. Jesus Christ died for this church. He owns it.
To the deacons: gentlemen, thank you for your faithful service to the congregation. But, my friends, this is not your church. Jesus Christ died for it. He owns this church.
To the members of the church with seniority: ladies and gentlemen, thank you for hanging in there through the years, through good times and difficult ones. But this is not your church. Jesus died for this church. He owns it.
And to the members with the deepest pockets: my friends, thank you for your generous and sacrificial giving over the years; we couldn't have done it without you. But this is not your church. Jesus Christ died for this church. It's His and He owns it.
And even though our denominational polity says this church is autonomous and self-governing and you can vote today to do anything with this church you wish, congregation: this is not your church. Jesus Christ died for this church, you didn't. He owns it.
Therefore, the only question any of us are facing today is: Lord, what will you have me to do?
That's the only question. It's His church and He is in charge. We are His servants. He has not gone off and left any of us in charge, even though some among us think He has.
This is the first prayer of the apostle Paul when he was converted outside Damascus. When He heard that voice from heaven saying, "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting," Paul said, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" (see Acts 22:8).
Lord, what do you want to do with your church today?
Will you ask Him that?
That's why I say this is not about me, the pastor. It's about you—Whether you dare ask Him that and dare to obey Him.
And finally, to those of you who have been urged to attend today in order to vote against the preacher, please keep in mind three things:
1. Whatever we do to the church, Jesus takes personally. When we honor the church, we honor Him. But when we do damage to it, when we keep it torn up in disunity, when we fuss and fight, when we slander and gossip, we are dishonoring Him. And that is a serious thing, my friend.
None of us will want to stand before the Lord knowing we have brought dishonor upon Him.
2. The issue today is not whether you want me as your pastor. It's not about me; it's about each of us being obedient to the Lord Jesus.
3. Finally, I want you to think about the one who urged you to come today to vote against the preacher. Is it possible they are playing you, manipulating you?
There's a simple way to find out.
Ask yourself whether that individual has ever shown any interest in your spiritual life? Did they tell you about Jesus? Have they ever ministered to you in your time of need? If you were hurting, would they call to check on you? Have they ever urged you to come to church at any other time?
No one is going to know how you voted, one way or the other. This is a secret ballot.
I trust you will do the right thing and honor your Lord.
My friend, your church has known enough burdens and troubles for many lifetimes. Let's bless the Lord's church today.
Note: The church did the right thing and kept the preacher. That little band of rulers left the church. In reading this, I am well aware that some will think the pastor was full of himself and misconstrued Scripture. I know that pastor very well and know him to be a truly humble man. So nothing about this was egotistical in my opinion.
Joe McKeever is retired from the pastorate but still active in preaching, writing and cartooning for Christian publications. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.
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