During the forced termination procedures, negative results appear almost immediately. Ministers, their families and many church members experience great suffering as they sort through the details and personal involvement. Ministers are wounded in the deepest sense of what God called them to do, and this opens them to depression, suicide and self-destructive behavior. Marriages are damaged and often broken. Children, church members and witnesses outside the church circles experience profound alienation from “the body of Christ.” Can anything “good” come from such ugly circumstances? Indeed, it can and almost always does! Beyond forced termination, participants as well as by-standers have been known to feel a peace that brings healing, increased faith, a renewed strength and a firmer reliance on the power of God as the primary force in their being. They learn to say, with Joseph, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…(Genesis 50:20).” Forced termination confronts Christians with our own human needs. Our response can teach us to respect our limits, set healthy boundaries and to see our local church through more realistic lenses by stripping away our unhealthy illusions and moving us toward “healthy” consensus. Out of the tempering fires of forced termination, many leaders discover the foot of the Cross–where they can receive strength to follow Jesus in new ways. The “call to preach” is becoming deeper and wider. God’s vision for ministry replaces the comfort zones of traditional ministry with new models to serve His children of today. Corporate implications of forced termination include the practice, rooted in the secret determination of a few, to manipulate the church for their own interests. Also, churches acquiring a reputation as “repeat offenders” may confront dwindling membership and difficulties in staffing their leadership positions. Networks of the Corporate Church are learning from forced terminations to train leaders in conflict management, encourage them to seek outside support networks and mobilize community resources for those leaders under attack. God seems to be preparing leaders to bring churches through a transforming healing process. Leaders having the courage and support to hold a church accountable for fair treatment and adequate compensation give that church greater impact in its community. These positive/negative results accruing from forced termination point to God’s power. He uncovers what is hidden. He challenges the church to justice. He brings good from evil. The larger lesson is that Christians examine what it means to be and do church amid the societal challenges around and within churches. Out of the chaos and suffering of forced terminations, hope looms for individuals, churches and the Church to grow greater and healthier in the service of God.
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