The last church I pastored, a Vineyard church (the one pictured here), just closed its doors and sold all assets, including the building, all the people have dispersed, and the pastor I’d left in charge moved away.
Gone. All of it. Gone!
Lisa and I moved here in 1995. I became the pastor of the Vineyard church in 1996. We went through a devastating church split in 1997. Basically, aside from that disastrous stint in New Hampshire, I was pastor there until I left the church and the ministry in 2010. During this time we we managed to burn the mortgage. Just before I left, I handed the church, the amazing leadership team, and the congregation over to the new pastor. We were good friends at the time. I really did it in hopes that he would help move the church on where I no longer could.
But as soon as I gave him the church, he unfriended me, gradually kicked off almost all the leaders, changed the church’s name, and allowed more and more people to drift away until by the end of 2014 there were just a half dozen people left. It came to the point where it was no longer viable. So they closed it down, sold it off and he moved away.
I’ve been hearing stories.
For example, there were attempts to have a reconciliation of sorts between all the pastors in the history of the church when it was looking like it was going to fail. However, none of the other ones wanted to meet because they saw me as the problem. They never bothered to contact me for this reason. They say it was my fault the church split in 1997. Therefore it is my fault that I allowed myself to deteriorate to the point where I lost my faith, turned my back on God, and left the ministry and like a hireling ran away from the church. Then, it is my fault the church never succeeded after I passed it on because, basically, I gave the new pastor a dying baby that he nursed to its inevitable death.
You can’t win.
I’m used to being accused of stuff. It happens every day. They can blame me if they want to. I don’t care. Really. I mean it does affect me, but not in a serious or debilitating way.
What I’m really feeling is a sadness. I’m grieving the death of that church.
It was a wonderful community when it was wonderful. It eventually came to the place where we were no longer compatible. But the potential for us to continue to grow together was there. It’s just that certain strong people took over the morale of the place and eventually made it oppressive and impossible for me. But when it was good it was amazing. Actually, The Lasting Supper reminds me very much of that place when it was at its best.
I’ve learned a lot about community. I’ve still got a lot to learn and a long way to go. But it’s made me very grateful for what we have. Look! I even feel free to share my grief with you guys. So thanks. I enjoy you guys and appreciate the community we have.
I hope you do too.
Thanks for listening.