I’ve been doing some reading on the Lifeway Christian Resources web site – this group provides research, services and products to churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. I find the Southern Baptist Convention to be very interesting.
You may know of the Southern Baptist Convention as the group that seceded from the national Triennial Convention of Baptists in 1845 due to the issue of slavery. Southern Baptists liked slavery, Northern Baptists were against it.
Of course Southern Baptists soon saw that slavery was immoral and rushed to adopt a resolution to correct this racist injustice – a mere 150 years later. As you can see, ethical behavior has been a fine tradition in the Southern Baptist Convention.
And that leads me to the reason why I was on the Lifeway website. I had just read an interesting article on the, “Top reasons why staff members in Southern Baptist churches are dismissed.” (Link2) Last year 1,300 people were fired from Southern Baptist churches. (Half of those were full time pastors.) It’s interesting to see the reasons for dismissal. The top 15 reasons are:
I find this list fascinating because the study really doesn’t give clues to why people answered as they did. For example, item 9 – sexual misconduct, could mean anything from sex out-of-wedlock (“I swear, we’re engaged!”) to something reminiscent of Mark Foley. Ethical Misconduct, item 11, is more straightforward.
- Control issues (who should run the church)
- Poor people skills
- Church's resistance to change
- Pastor's leadership style (too strong)
- Church was already conflicted when the pastor arrived
- Decline in attendance and/or conditions
- Pastor's leadership style (too weak)
- Administrative incompetence on the part of the pastor
- Sexual misconduct
- Conflict with other staff
- Ethical misconduct(mismanaged monies, dishonesty)
- Disagreement over doctrine
- Tenure (been at the church too long)
- Rapid growth
- (Tied for 15th with same number of votes:)
- Pastor vs. deacons
- Pastor's physical health
- Personal financial problems
- Poor work ethic (lazy)
The top four reasons for dismissal interest me because they all relate to cult-building. Cult leaders are usually power hungry, and authoritative. Although cult leaders can be charismatic, they will often have poor people skills at the same time. (Read about L. Ron Hubbard!) I could see churches resisting a cultish change.
The Southern Baptist Convention, home of the “Moral Majority” as founded by Jerry Falwell. Hm. There’s a cultish, evil figure.