EPISODE #96 – WHY I LEFT MY REPLANT – A REPLANTER SHARES HIS STORY
In today’s episode Bob and Jimbo take time to hear the real life story of a Pastor who left his church. Many Pastor’s we know have experienced and are experiencing challenges and difficulties and eventually arrive at the the decision that it is time to leave the church they serve.
If you’re a Pastor in a difficult situation we encourage you to reach out for help. Whether it be your Associational Mission Strategist, a State Convention Staff member the Replant team at NAMB or us here at the Bootcamp-we want to see you get the help and encouragement you need.
Contact the Replant Team firstname.lastname@example.org
Call the Pastor’s Help line: 1-844-Pastor1 (confidentiality is ensured)
Drop us a line at the Bootcamp: email@example.com
Text the Bootcamp: 904.270.9520
[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: Here we are back at the boot camp back again. And, I am fresh back from the beautiful state of Colorado up there with mark Alec and the guys Jeff to CLU and all those guys man saw so many of the guys that we know up there. So Craig tuck and change Nugent and Evan skeleton and so many great guys.
And. Staring at the, the gorgeous scenic views. And I started to feel my heartstrings pull a little bit, Bob. And I’m wondering if God’s calling me to relocate to the mountains of Colorado.
Bob Bickford: I think he is Jimbo. As long as you have a house that has a place where I can stay in back, whatever that is. If it’s a shed, just got to have a heater, maybe a hot plate, a restroom, I’m all in. I love Cal I’ve love Colorado.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, man. Look, I went to hallux house and we had a fireside chat and I was on my porch. I don’t know if you’ve been there. but his back porch I feel is big enough and they have this fire pit thing that, during the winter months of COVID they decided regardless of how cold it was that [00:01:00] they would continue to have worship services outside.
And so Jeff , and I’m probably outing him on some OSHA violations here. but, Jeff to CLU got the he’s a gas fire pits and took the governor off. And, and so ban these things can, this thing can throw a flame. I mean, it, it’s pretty intense and I feel like, you know, with a good tent and that fire pit, I could probably survive there up on just on hallux back porch.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, well, and of course he’s holding you the whole time and hugging you. So you’re getting the body warmth huggable mark Halleck. So, you know, I think you could survive.
JimBo Stewart: That is absolutely true. You would definitely, we received the body warmth of mark Alec. My, I took I’ve took it buddy, a pastor friend of mine, from Jacksonville up with me. he was like, man, I love how like, but first time I met him, he liked just, I mean, it was a deep, deep embrace said, yeah, yeah, that’s that’s mark Halleck, man.
That’s the love you get from market.
Bob Bickford: awesome.
[00:02:00] JimBo Stewart: right. Well, Bob, we’ve got a special guest on today. I’m gonna let you, uh, kind of take it, introduce the topic and the guest to us. And, this one, maybe a little, a little heavier, but I think a helpful episode. and so talk to us, Bob, about what we’ve got going on for this episode.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, Jimbo, you know, last episode we talked about when sheep bite and it was an episode that was directed on, you know, how do you, how do you pastor people who may. I have a sense of just, they’re always there world in conflict, or there there’s a struggle there at the church or the church has a long history of that.
how do you navigate all that? And when is it time to go? And you know, what are some strategies for, pastoring people who are difficult to pastor? And so, along those lines, we have a guest replanted. Revitalizer with us who, who I’ve known for for some time now. And he recently made a transition and we had opportunity to sit down some weeks ago and talk about that transition.
And so I thought, you know what, Hey, would you be willing to tell a little bit of your [00:03:00] story and come on here and help guys understand how you navigate it? a challenging situation and then ended up determining, you know, for the better, better part, for the, for the health of my family, I’m just going to need to transition to a different place.
And sometimes that’s the reality Jimbo, just this week, I got a, saw a message on one of the private boards that we’re a part of in terms of replant team. And one of our guys said he had a message from a deacon, right before their business meeting. They had a. Another meeting right before then the deacon said, you know, you might be surprised that after this business meeting, you might not have a job.
Right. So I think that it’s not this pastor we’re talking to, but it’s a, it’s another friend of mine and I’m like, man, that is a tough situation. You know, how do you navigate that? So we know that there are a lot of brothers out there. Who are facing those situations. And so we want to be helpful to them.
So in this, in this vein, we’ve, we’ve invited this reporter to come on and tell a bit of his story. We want to stay, first of all, we want to stay focused on Jesus and the gospel and, and the hope that we have in him. And then, but secondly, we also want to [00:04:00] acknowledge that sometimes it’s difficult and you have to make decisions, to transition.
I’m, I’m thankful to have our guest on there. So we want to welcome you tell us just a little bit about your story as you began to revitalize or replant the church that you were called to a couple of years ago.
Pastor: Yeah, well, it’s great to be with you guys. I’m honored to. Be here with y’all and, yeah, it was, just a little bit over four years ago. my wife and and I, we were, called to a, what I would consider to be a church revitalization. and it was just this church that, Man, I’ll tell you what they, they had, for Jesus.
It seemed, everything seemed to be, you know, we want to go in this specific direction. I remember even just some of the answers during, some of the candidating process. It was, it was just the right answers, you know? So, I leaving and kind of. Uh, as my wife and I were just kind of praying things through and, and mulling things over, it was just like, man, we, it seems like we want the same things, you know?
and so, I do believe to this day that the Lord called us [00:05:00] there. and we were there for a specific reason, but, yeah, I believe it was, it was a church revitalization still believe it’s a church revitalized. And, they are, as everybody else is in desperate need of Jesus and to saving mercies and, his power to move forward.
Bob Bickford: So one of the things you, you, talked about here in your first, response here was that you, you had some questions going in that you wanted to have answered, just to kind of discern. who this church was and what they were about what they’d hoped. So how did you find it, those, and then was there any indication during their initial answer process that, I mean, you, you kind of attested to the fact that he said it seemed like they were going, they wanted to go in the same direction you had hoped to go in, but at some point you probably had a first warning flag or shot across the bow.
So kind of tell us about one. How did you develop those questions? And then two, when did you realize, oh my God. They’re what they said in the interview process was not really where some of them want to go.
Pastor: Yeah. So that’s a, that’s a multi-layer, that’s like an onion man. You got to pull back some layers to get kind of [00:06:00] disciples, none of that stuff.
Bob Bickford: Hey, well, I liked the So go ahead, man. Like Shrek is one of my
Shrek talks about starting late in Jibo likes to go to Outback and get the bloomin’ onion. So we’re all good here.
Pastor: Yeah, I should have said, you know, I that illustration you know, with everything on. so anyway, yeah, so when we got, we were candidating, I remember, you know, we did have questions and, and some of their questions were pretty powerful. what was the difference that, you know, I remember specifically being asked, what’s the difference between a and a priest?
And I remember opening And them saying, boy, we liked that. You know, we, we love that about this process is because you’ve had the Bible open.
I remember, one of the deacons even saying if God’s word says, if, God’s word tells us, we need to, you know, pack this thing up and hold a tent service out in the middle of a field Because the Bible says it. That’s what we need to do. I mean, to, to follow our pastor, I remember talking about the Baptist faith and message. I remember talking about, specific confession they were [00:07:00] using the New Hampshire of faith. I remember talking about discipleship. I remember talking about reaching neighborhoods.
all of the answers were correct. In fact, it was just so obvious to me. That it was, it was very clear. They want to go in the same direction I do. And this is where we need to, uh, I think the Lord is calling us here. It was pretty quick, I would say into the process of actually getting there, and having conversations with people that I began to even wonder if they knew what the definitions of some of these words.
you know, sometimes we can throw up Christian lingo, gospel evangelism, yada, yada, but, began to see that this was, you know, kind of what they said not really what they were doing. And, I whenever we had a VBS, It the first VBS that we were there for and all of, you know, how in, in little and rural areas and stuff like that, you’re going to get kids from one VBS to another VBS, to another VBS.
and they’re going to transition. lot of them are going to have different church homes. But I remember specifically being in a situation that, [00:08:00] these were really just, kind of a lot of the same kids who already had church homes. And there wasn’t really a whole lot of engagement with. the neighborhoods.
And so I’m, I remember bringing that up and saying, Hey, we need maybe act like missionaries, you know, and, and try to reach. lost in this interact with families and began to see, well, we’ve done that before. That’s never worked before. You’re never going to get those kinds of things to happen, you know, and it was, it was those kinds of answers.
And the more that kind of pressed with various programs in the church and various strategies for discipleship and evangelism, the more began to hear we’ve done that before. We’ve tried that before it doesn’t work here, move on. I remember, even as we were opening things up and I was pretty open as open as I think I could have been about here’s some of the changes we need to make to maybe worship service.
the church didn’t have a scripture reading. And so we added a scripture rating and it was probably two to three weeks. And after I added a scripture we began to hear In fact, I had one man even confront and say, I don’t know who [00:09:00] you think you are adding all of this scripture to the worship services.
But I don’t leave. I think what you’re doing and what you learned in seminary good in this all well, but I don’t think that’s gonna work here.
Bob Bickford: So wait, so wait a second. Yeah, he too much scripture in the service. Didn’t like the scripture reading.
JimBo Stewart: yeah.
So when we, when you say changes to the worship service, that you don’t mean that you started wearing skinny jeans And adding fog smoke and, go and super contemporary, you didn’t throw the hymnals in the dumpster that the, the contentious point here was adding a scripture. To the service.
Pastor: And I moved the pastoral prayer to more towards the beginning of of the service,
JimBo Stewart: see how you are. I see how he thought that was heretical. I see
Pastor: yeah. And, and really the behind it was, he felt like he said, once you’re done the first scripture [00:10:00] reading, I’m, I’m good to go. I’m ready to go. by that point. And so. I think, and these were just, you know, at least in my own mind, I’m, I’m kind of thinking like, man, I’m not like going and warp speed here.
and another change that we made was, yeah, and it was unanimous. So keep in mind, I was voted into it 99 to one. and there was a lot of enthusiasm. There was a lot of celebrate. And one of the first things I saw was that they didn’t have pew Bibles. It was just red Baptist hymnal all the way across.
And so I wanted to maybe say, Hey, how do we get God’s word in? People’s hands more into their ears and to their eyes. So we added hymnals or we added Bibles along with the hymnals there. And then, that there was even a mild point of contention there. and, and so, I can go back a little bit, even, to some of the things that happened previous to me arriving at the church.
but the one thing I quickly learned was that the church was not on the same page with each other. You really kind of had a divided church there. number [00:11:00] two, I learned that the search committee didn’t really represent. church as a whole or what I would consider what I would say to power and number three, is that even having us be brought on, I remember there was a point of contention before we even arrived at the single fact that our pay package had been told us one number, but we were actually, the church had an actually voted on that as though the church had already. Been upset with the fact that many thought we were being paid too much.
One person thought we weren’t being paid enough. And was just this, it was kind of this communication problem from the get-go. And we continued to be recipients of that communication problem. as time.
Bob Bickford: Did you think? the particularly, and we, we do hear this. This is not unusual for a search committee to be saying one thing. And then the leaders of the church saying another and particularly around. Package did, was that a discovery after you got your first paycheck and it had packed up all the boxes and moved into a [00:12:00] home or was that on the way in, oh, by the way, we’re not paying you as much as we told you, we were going to pay you.
Pastor: there were for the first year we probably had about a two month honeymoon, I would say. and through that first year, three months, We, and most of the staff positions were volunteer. but I had S I had our youth guy confessed sin. he confessed to doing marijuana for the past three years. And so we had asked him to step down.
there wasn’t any. That was just one of the things, I’ve pushed for. I I really didn’t ask anybody’s permission. I just kinda let people know what was happening and he needed to step down from that leadership position. and it was kind one little thing after another, until there was finally okay.
Very contentious meeting, with church leadership and deacons. And it was in that meeting that I actually found out about a year. That, everything had kind of been in disarray, you know, with even how the church was bringing us in. And so it was finally a year in that those cracks and those fault lines began to really kind of show themselves that maybe the church wasn’t as together, as what they [00:13:00] had kind of continued in themselves.
Bob Bickford: Fast forward a little bit, you know, you were there for, about three years or so. surely there was some good things that happened while you were there and, and possibly, you know, the church did come together on a few things is as you look back and kind of reflect on it, tell us some of those good points of your tenure there, where you felt like, okay, we, we had a Rocky.
But these are some things that I’m, I feel good about and we can celebrate, you know, at the then also looking back.
Pastor: Yeah. I do believe that there were many who were very hungry for discipleship and, we were able to have many one-on-ones many get together as many sit many, many sessions of just around my desk or around a coffee or something like that to open God’s word. In fact, from one discipleship, relationship that I had, I began to see this man just flourish at his in telling others Jesus.
I mean, so that was awesome. began to see people kind of come out of some nominalism guess. And, even one young woman, she was raised Catholic [00:14:00] I was able to kind of, be the. the spirit was the catalyst, but I was able to be the one baptizer, know, into, Christ, you know, Christ alone.
I’ll say that. And, the church had a wonderful sense of community. And oftentimes you saw that you saw them rally around things like funerals. and they were really, together on many things. one of the things I think that really presented a division was theology and really just the understanding of discipleship and walking with Jesus.
but you could easily set all of that aside and you would see that, you know, many of them were family. Many them were friends, many them grew up together and many of them had a very close sense of. when you begin to open scripture and see, here are some of the sacrifices that are made and here are some of the, the reasoning behind what it means to follow Jesus.
You’d begin to see, differences that then you begin to see more of the spectrum then,
Bob Bickford: Okay.
Pastor: And I do know that the church themselves, they were, they were recipients. When I got [00:15:00] there probably a few years before that they were recipients of other of church splits. And so the churches that stayed, they would stay in the building and that group of people would go find a home.
This church and that happened twice. so I know that contention is something that they were, they were very familiar with, and an almost seem normal in church life, to kind of go through many of those difficult things. Very difficult.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. So it seemed like the normal family dance, right? So we, we always fuss and fight at each other or whatever. And so that, that is something that can be challenging. So at some point, in the, not so near past some things happen, perhaps that you, you began to ask the question or maybe your wife or you were together begin to say, Hey, maybe.
Maybe this is not the place that we should stay and, maybe it would be better for us to transition on. Can you talk about when, when those things made the turn and, how you guys discern that, you know what, we’ve labored as well as we can labor here, [00:16:00] the Lord is moving us on. Can you talk about that a little bit in that transition?
Pastor: Yeah. you know, through those four years that we were there, when we first got there, I remember telling people, And, and I had a very strong conviction. I w I was mentored by incredible men, incredible that had fantastic philosophies of going and don’t move. And I remember telling people if the Lord has his way, I want to be better buried here.
among you all at this church that has been said so many times, it could be easily tested, through many of the, Trials and the tribulations and just the periods of toughness. the one thing I really began to notice was wife wasn’t really flourishing and things were very difficult, for her, began to notice her really a joy when it came to being around that community of believers, I won’t get into every single thing that had happened, but there were, um, there were really difficult things that, and hateful things, you know, said and done.
it was very difficult to build relationships, with kind of the [00:17:00] pastoral family and church members. And so. To be honest, when it came to kind of trying to build relationships and have those communities, kind of ministry people would get a bit of a stiff arm.
And, began to see that she was really like, just not flourishing in that situation.
about a year in to two years in to three years in things are really starting to kind of hit grindstones, you know? and then there, towards the end, we began to hit that I remember having very, difficult conversations in our kitchen, in our living room about I can’t do that. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t be way for a long time.
I would bring some of these things up at the church leadership, began to make it very clear some of the ways that they were feeling, and it would be up to, well, that’s her youth or that’s her, that’s this or. Yeah, we’ve heard some of those things before, or, you know, some of the hateful things that were said, we realized there was just a pretty fixed strain of gossip, and other [00:18:00] things.
And it was just, it was getting really, really difficult, to just kind of watch her like that. So I began to just seek counsel with, with many, many people. and one of the first things that. Was clear after I began to share them specific instances. many I can think of at three, three guys right now, wondering why I was still there at all.
and it was really through those kinds of conversations that we began to like truly entertain Is the Lord doing something here? Are we supposed to be walking away? this, and there was even guilt in our hearts. There was, there was this sense of this doesn’t feel right. giving up, failing all of other kinds of, feelings began to kind of come along with this package, but we knew that there were just things that weren’t right and they couldn’t stay the same way.
And if they were going to stay the same way, we couldn’t be a of. So,
JimBo Stewart: No, as you say, what, what advice would you have for a pastor and his family going through similar circumstances and how, what advice would you have for them on [00:19:00] how to discern if God is calling them away or to stick it through? how, I mean, how, how does someone determine that in that situation?
Pastor: Yeah. I know specifically for us and every situation I believe is going be different. it’s, it’s almost like churches are like families. And so it’s, it’s basically like giving the same advice to each family, on how their marriage ought to be handled and children ought to be raised and, churches are very similar.
Then you see those corresponding features and factors within scripture as well. but I know for us, it really. Began to just hit a point of absolute dependent prayer. And I don’t say that as some sort of a, a pie artistic answer on, know, typically you you’ll read something and prayer will be first and guys want to scroll just a little bit to get to actually the action and those kinds of things.
But it really was, it was, it was a tear filled prayer, which was very uncommon for us, you know? And it just didn’t, it wasn’t something that I, you know, I typically don’t, pray the way I [00:20:00] was praying in these situations. And so, so that was the first thing that we did. I think the second thing that we really began to do was seek tons of counsel outside, unbiased, unattached counsel from other guys and, and get very, get very real with them.
On exactly what is going on. And when we began to do that, of course, we began to get kind of But I think probably only once out of man, months and months of probably 20, 30 guys that we were kind of going to and saying, what would you do in this situation? We probably had one tell us, well, I think you ought to try to stick this.
Everybody else was, was kind of giving us the answer of saying why you might need to be moving on, or you might need to be thinking about something else, or you might need to be taken care of your wife in this next season or something along these lines. so that was the third thing that we did.
And another thing that we did was really began to kind of like, just pay attention to the, to the ebbs and flows of what God was doing and what [00:21:00] doors he may have been on. Uh, at this time, and it was just through that, that we began to have other, other, relationships that we didn’t have maybe four years ago.
but in these situations, when things are real foggy, it can really be difficult to try to figure out what that next step is. And so I just tell guys, surround yourself, get guys near you, get in the word, get in some deep, real, like, I mean, just. Heart prayer with the Lord. and, and also pay attention to your church.
the Lord can do anything. I’ve, I’m truly believed that he can raise a valley of dead dry bones into an army all by his power and all by his word. but that was something we had to really do. Who, what is it truly going to be to, to move in one direction as a church, into another, how how’s the culture of this going to change?
and we began to talk to leadership. We began to, and one of the things that we weren’t hearing was we’re going to do what we can to change this. It [00:22:00] was more of just, well, this is the way things have always. And have the conversations with previous pastors, and seeing kind of a status quo line from one pastor to another.
was, it was all of those factors that we, we just felt like the Lord was moving us on.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. that’s so good that you had the council around you and the friends, and then just also realized, um, that your situation was. Part of a long, a larger and longer story that there was a, a unique personality, spiritual maturity. Receptiveness or unreceptive in this, to the work of the Lord in that particular location.
And so a lot of guys in your position want to take all of the blame and all of the glory. And, you know, obviously the Lord gets all of the glory and I think what I would want to say. to, to you and to others is guys, you probably don’t bear all of the blame. Right. And you just need to [00:23:00] understand that there’s a lot that has gone on in a situation before you, that it contributes to your present if you’re in a difficult situation.
And so, you know, real quick and like 35 seconds, you left there and has the Lord taking care of you and how was the Lord taking care?
Pastor: Oh man, the Lord is taking, such in his kindness. I don’t deserve as care, but the Lord has placed us in another context. in another context specifically brought us here to heal. we were brought out of that situation. them falling, knowing that situation and saying, we want to bring you here.
and I can honestly say the past three months have been healthier than the past three years,
where we were and it’s. You know, kind of dissecting everything. It’s, it’s not that we have left with a sense of but I don’t think I even realized how dry my own soul was or my families until we just kind of hit an Oasis and you begin just drink and drink and and drink.
And so, yeah, we were, we were spiritual.
Bob Bickford: Hmm, that’s good word. Hey, I just want to [00:24:00] say Jimbo’s as we wrap up here, we we’ve got some good brothers out there. Just like our brother here that are in a difficult situation and they may need to reach out to somebody. First of all, firstname.lastname@example.org is a great way to get in touch with some of us here at the replant team.
And we’re going to also put the 800 pastors align. If you are a pastor and you find yourself in a really difficult situation and you’re concerned about, you know, just talking about to anybody. About what’s going on in your life and you really need to download some things. We’re going to put the 1-800-PASTORS line to Caroline on the show notes.
And just let me encourage you to call that line, reach out, don’t bear the pain and the weight by yourself. it is difficult and you are not alone. So whether the replant team or the bootcamp team, or the one 800 pastor’s team, can help you, we’re here to help you because we want to be with you in the train.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. I think there’s so many great insights from what you shared in, Man the search committee does not. If, if I would say even maybe rarely accurately represents [00:25:00] the sentiments of the entire congregation. And so for a guy going in, candidating a maybe figure out some ways to F. To go beyond the search committee to get a sentiment and some things I don’t know that that would have even prevented what you’ve been through.
but perhaps it could help another guy at some point. And, man things often seem very rosy, as you go in and people use a lot of links. so often that seems like. We’re ready to take these jumps. but it doesn’t always go that way. So thank you for being willing to come onto the podcast with us and, vulnerably kind of share your story and everything with us.
And I would echo what Bob said. guys, don’t go through this alone. hopefully you have some people around you and if you don’t let us know, let the replant team know that when 800 pastors know don’t, don’t walk through this.