It was Sunday, December 19, 1976, 10:20 a.m. I had just taught a Sunday School Class. An elder gently asked me to step into the elders’ office. When the door was closed, he said, “Brother Jerrie, I think you ought to think about resigning today.” What a shock! That had never entered my mind. After a few words I don’t remember, I walked into the auditorium, sang with the congregation Anywhere Is Home, and after a prayer, and a few more songs, I preached, somewhat distracted by the conversation during the intermission.
Since that day, I have always recommended firing preachers (if it has to be done) on a Monday night. It gives two days for the preacher to recuperate before Wednesday night and six days before preaching the next Sunday.
What could have improved this and similar exchanges?
1. Talk to the other elder or elders before telling the preacher to resign. The other elder was nearly as surprised as I was when he heard it. One elder should not take this acton.
2. Think: is it critical to do this quickly? There are times when immediate action is necessary. From my experience, there are very few times when it needs to be this abrupt.
3. Had the person or persons who suggested this action talked to the preacher being released? Years later, I learned the elder had visited a member on Saturday night. He asked the man what he thought would help some people to quit complaining and get happy. He said, “I think if Jerrie would resign and find another place to preach, people would settle down.” The man he asked told me years later with tears he never meant for the elders to take this action. A good response from the elder to this man could have been, “You know Jerrie and appreciate him. You have encouraged him since he has been here. Have you talked with him and shared your concern?”.
4. Is there a skill that could be improved by study and practice? I once talked with a group of elders who were ready to release their preacher because his preaching was not interesting and was not improving. He was good with people but had never been trained as a preacher. They lived in a city where a school taught homiletics and other ministerial subjects. They encouraged him to take classes. When I was with them in a gospel meeting about three years later, everyone seemed happy and well adjusted.
5. Have you approached the preacher on his shortcomings and warned that corrective action must be taken to continue the relationship? Rarely, rarely, should dismissal be a surprise.
6. Have you checked with other people and tried to explore how this could be done with less shock and damage to the preacher, his family, and the congregation? Shepherds need counselors who are mature, honest, reliable, and able to keep a confidence. Often before major surgery, it is good to get a second opinion.
7. Have you spent considerable time meditating on the Golden Rule and how you would like to be treated if your roles were reversed?
As I said before, so say I now again, from my experience the best day of the week to fire a preacher is Monday.The best day of the week to fire a preacher is Monday. — Jerrie Barber Click To Tweet
After several years, I realized I was not guiltless in this. Read: 3 Ways I Helped Myself Get Fired.