In this post, I share the challenges of difficult ministry situations. Specifically I asked: “What are some of the most difficult situations you have had in pastoral ministry?”
I am simply reporting anecdotal information in my conversations with pastors. Eight consistent themes have arisen.
- Moral failure of a church staff member. “When our associate pastor confessed to his affairs and left his family, our entire church was devastated. It was over a year before we began to recover; I have really been involved in grief ministry with his failure and departure.”
- Funeral of a child or teenager. “I have done a few funerals of young people, and it’s the most difficult thing I’ve done in ministry. There is a grief among the survivors that is not comparable to other situations.”
- Declining financial situation in the church. “We had no choice. The church was running out of money. We had to make some hard choices. A lot of church members left as a result. That made our financial problems even greater.”
- Dismissing a friend on church staff. “It was my dream to see him join our church staff. But it just didn’t work out. Letting him go was one of the most painful things I’ve done in ministry.”
- Funeral of an unbeliever. “I’ve probably done more than a dozen funerals of unbelievers. To this day, I still struggle with how to speak at those funerals. I focus most of my words on comforting the family, but I really don’t know how to offer hope to them.”
- Confronting a church member. “She was bitter and gossiped all the time. No one else had the courage to confront her, so I had to do the dirty work. It was not a pretty situation, and I’m still suffering from the confrontation today.”
- Moral failure of a key lay leader. “When we found out he had been stealing money from the church, we were absolutely floored. He was a key leader. Church members felt like they had been betrayed.”
- Bringing order to a contentious church business meeting. “It was a church fight like I have never seen. I never learned at seminary how to deal with such a situation. I felt totally inept.”
I could add several more difficult ministry situations pastors shared with me, but these eight were the most mentioned themes. What do you think of the eight situations I highlighted? What would you add?
This post originally ran at ThomRainer.com and is used by permission.