Pastoral Politics (Why Ministers Resign)

by Rick Steele

In this age of instant gratification, it is safe to say that most members of the clergy don’t stay in one place very long. In the words of the author, “Sudden exits, forced moves, and pastoral departures under duress pepper our times and reveal the salted wounds of faithful preachers…. The occasions are myriad; the occurrences are pandemic.”

Dr. Gilmore came to this conclusion after serving more than thirty-six years in various pastorates in two different denominations. Throughout his ministry, he has accumulated voluminous stacks of correspondence from frustrated pastors. Because many of his colleagues have shown bewilderment in their attempts to cope with problem pastorates, Dr. Gilmore felt compelled to address the thorny subject in his book, Pastoral Politics.

The author asserts that an overwhelming majority of seminary graduates move into pastorates with starry-eyed expectations, ill prepared for the entanglements that lie ahead. The reality is that all pastorates come to an end, and many of them end rather unceremoniously. Pastoral Politics is an “up close and personal examination” of more than a few case studies of forced farewells, to get both clergy and laity to think through their roles in the process of pastoral separation.

Dr. Gilmore blends biblical text with historical fact, theology with psychology, and bits of wry humor with serious application in this innovative look at what leads churches and pastors to part company. The book is written primarily from a pastor’s perspective, yet it boldly proclaims that many pastors face a demise of their own making. The author believes that an examination of the pastorates of yesteryear, along with many modern-day examples, will assist today’s ministers in both avoiding premature departures and adjusting to them when they can’t be avoided.

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