Volume XXX Number 3 MARCH 20, 2006


It could be said that “Everything I needed to know about being a pastor, I learned (or could have learned) from the life of Job”; in that light, I refer you to the 24th chapter of the Book of Job, where you will find recorded these words:

2 Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof. 3 They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge. 4 They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together. 5 Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. 6 They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. 7 They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. 8 They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. 9 They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. 10 They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; 11 Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst. 12 Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them. 13 They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.

The Case of: My Pastor Has Changed His Doctrine; What Shall I Do?

This question was written with a sincerity that rose from a broken heart. As I first read the correspondence some four years ago, I recalled that for nearly forty years I had known this man and his family and had watched his life, not only as a friend, but, for some years, I was also his pastor. I even knew something of the chain of events that had brought him to such a depressing hour of despair. Even so, the soul-wrenching intensity of his question struck me that day so forcibly that I remember sitting somewhat stunned for a time. True enough, an answer had come to mind quickly, but the application of that answer caused me to feel considerable consternation. During that turmoil, this article began to form in my mind and I began writing; for some unremembered reason, I set the article aside and forgot it until recent circumstances recalled the event to my attention. The issue is as relevant now as it was in 2002 and so I submit this for your consideration.


At the time that I received the letter, the church in question was an esteemed and long-established Baptist church with a godly heritage, holding a name that was honored for defending the faith, and given respect for propagating the Gospel. Her influence for the Baptist heritage extended backward for generations and stretched outward far beyond her hometown. In a geographical area where only a few churches stood for Biblical truth, this church had never flinched from the battles thrust upon her, but willingly had endured decades of warfare without showing reservation or displaying hesitation. However, something was then transpiring within the church that would, if continued, dramatically alter her character. The brother who sent me the question and enclosed the plea for help was catching his first whiffs of the leaven that had established a presence, and as all leaven does, had the intention of leavening the whole lump. The beginning of the symptoms, he recognized, had begun much earlier and he faulted himself for not detecting or recognizing the devastating potential of those subtle changes as they were introduced. It is relatively easy for a man to consider the small but irritating abrasion on his arm as a minor scratch and one certainly needing no medical attention beyond a little soap, water, a dab of first aid cream, only to discover in a week or so that those red stripes extending out from the festering wound belie his complacency; even so it is a simple matter for a believer to overlook [perhaps in the spirit of attempted unity] the presence of definitive spiritual markers of deviation from Biblical truth until the spiritual gangrene has infected the entire body of believers. Whether spiritual or physical in nature, every intrusion of rot, decay, and corruption becomes pervasive if not excised. Salves and cosmetics do nothing for gangrene; the presence of that venomous toxin requires immediate surgical removal and along with the gangrenous tissue, the healthy flesh touching it must also be carved away. The sooner the infected area is extricated from the body the less destruction it causes and the less healthy tissue is destroyed. Postponing the surgery in the hopes of “it might clear up” only destroys more of the body and endangers the health of all the body. In the same regard, all that is true in physical matters holds true also in the spiritual realm. No good will ever be gained by delaying the confrontation with the gangrene, whether physical or spiritual.

My friend was hurt; however, he was so stunned and numbed from receiving the blow that he was unable to reason a responsible reaction. The sudden discovery of unfaithfulness in one’s church is comparable to finding that one’s spouse has been adulterous. Because of the devastating extent of the deception of this disloyalty, the one who is thus betrayed finds it very difficult to carry on the simplest aspects of normal daily functions. Husband, wife, or church member—the person blames himself or herself and suffers a thousand torments of “It must be my fault.” “Why didn’t I see this coming?” and “What if I had done better?” The self-infliction of this anguish of perceived guilt is physically, mentally, and emotionally incapacitating. The first responses are usually instinctively reactive and not carefully reasoned. The malicious and manipulative deceiver actually depends upon that inability to reason to gain monetary or positional advantage. Their course is deliberately designed to take full advantage of the element of shock and surprise. When one adds the satanic element involved in all spiritual warfare, it is not difficult to understand why evil so often triumphs in this world. Months later, the individual begins to realize that the evidence of infidelity [whether moral or spiritual] had been there for some time, but that it had been ignored, excused, or accepted. When this perceptive reasoning returns, it is generally too late to take a defensive position. Too many concessions have been made. All that is left is to withdraw, defeated and empty.

In facing any physical disease, the earlier the diagnosis is made and the treatment is implemented, the greater the potential of recovery. This is as true in marriages as it is in churches. The tendency to ignore observed symptoms in the physical body only causes greater physical damage or even death to the individual; in the marriage, it results in divorce; in the church, it allows heresy to prevail. “Early detection and treatment” is the answer—while it will not guarantee a “cure,” because some diseases, marriages, and churches are incurable, it is the only route that has the potential of a restoration to any measure of healthiness.

Situations like the one that developed in the church involved in the letter is nearly always unanticipated by the congregation, even though defections were not unknown in the days of the apostles, and they are certainly not at all uncommon in this present age. I have witnessed similar developments in several churches that I have known and loved since childhood. Sadly, I have even watched this mutation in churches that I once pastored and others where I have worked. Especially here in Pensacola, I have observed as area churches have gone through this metamorphosis. It is a lesson to be learned from the records of history that any given church is scarcely more than the addition of one staff member or the call of one pastor away from apostasy.

It is my observation that two basic patterns exist for this hijacking procedure and that these two avenues of apostasy are repeated in church after church in this disreputable process of transformation. In recent years, I have discovered that books exist that are expressly designed to guide church leaders through the most effective methods of achieving these doctrinal changes in ways that isolate and overcome the opposition until sufficient strength has been achieved to enable one ultimately to ignore the resistance. Boiled down to the last dreg of essence, these are means to use the finances of the conservatives of the congregation to pay for their own extinction. They are to be viewed, it is suggested, as the means to an end—their replacement.

In one scenario, a pastor either moves to a new work or dies and another man is called to take his place; and, in the course of that change, other alterations are effected. Occasionally, a splinter group within the church that had been held in check by the stand and presence of the former pastor becomes vocal enough after his departure to sway the vote toward a new man whom they consider will be amenable to their particular divergent views. Other times, and sadly very often, the new man called by the congregation to be their shepherd arrives with unannounced and differing doctrine from what the membership understood or assumed him to believe and possessing a hidden agenda of which they were kept purposefully unaware.

Following the other script, the current pastor attends a “church growth” conference and returns with a revelatory vision of grandeur and expansion. Since he has previously taken a strong stand from the pulpit actually opposing what he has discovered in the conference, he must concoct a strategy to accomplish the transformation. He recognizes that he needs a stalking horse to achieve this. Guest speakers are selected who will gradually and sequentially bridge the chasm. [This tactic is known technically as “running it up the flagpole to see who salutes.”] The current staff, under this formula, will need to be exchanged for individuals that promote these new views even as the present church officers and leaders must be replaced with men and women compliant with this fresh vision. Therefore, the pastor begins implementing the staff changes—beginning with the music and youth areas—and promoting new converts with no connection to the history of the church to positions in front of the congregation. Generally, this process takes about the same amount of time as the “change of pastor” route—about two years, give or take six months.

Both of these tactics are aptly describable as “nefarious skullduggery.” There is nothing spiritual about deception. There is nothing Biblical about compromise. There is nothing ever honest about dishonesty. The ability to manipulate is not a spiritual gift; it is not even a noble carnal ability. The work of God is able to be conducted in the openness of daylight; it is ungodliness that seeks the deceptive cover of darkness.

In the situation introduced by the letter that I received [which is typical of so many such occurrences], the first changes instituted by the new pastor were relatively minor, seemingly unimportant, and apparently motivated by his oft proclaimed desire to reach more people. For months, these actions, always described as improvements, though sometimes slightly disturbing, remained subtle and were non-directional enough to escape serious challenge. He moved an inch here and a degree there. However, after the inch became a foot and moved toward a yard, his originally intended destination became all too evident. Alterations then became aggressive and major in implication—so much so, that the congregation developed a new composition and the pulpit become a stage and today that church walks no longer in the great legacy of her past. This entity is now a different church, though she retains the name and uses the location of the former church. Do not misunderstand. The church never formally changed her articles of faith nor did she officially discarded her statement of practices. The membership of the church was never assembled and asked to vote to set aside the documents that form the covenant and the doctrine of the church. Such a man as this pastor is does not have the principled character to call for an action of that nature. He will never assemble the congregation together for a vote to repudiate the past and to revise the doctrines and practices. He, as many others have done, simply moved the landmarks while the congregation slept; in the old west, his type would have been called “claim-jumpers.” [As I recall the old westerns of my wayward youth, those vermin were considered lower than horse thieves were.] By definition, honesty and openness are not consistent with the nature of traitors (2 Timothy 3:4). Decades of history and precedence were simply ignored by this pastor and, left to decay, are disappearing, being neglected and forgotten by the congregation.

To “pre-this-pastor” members, the pastor “somehow tolerated” the infiltration of doctrine and practices different from those defined in the constitution of that church and those faithfully practiced by that church since her founding. In actuality, it was much worse; the man actively encouraged and he personally engineered this clandestine, stealth activity. This particular man was called to pastor that church in the manner outlined in her constitution and on the understood basis of his public acceptance of the doctrine and the practices of the church. At the time that he was interviewed and presented himself as a candidate for the pulpit, he expressed no dissatisfaction over and raised no disagreement with the heritage of that church. In actions quite the opposite, he willingly expressed to the pulpit committee and to the congregation their expected and desired assurances that he accepted and agreed with the past stand of the church; yet, upon becoming pastor he steadily charted his course in a direction that led to a vastly different destination. In a practice, that I believe true men of integrity must surely consider both dishonest, dishonorable, and promise breaking, the new pastor did not sustain the previous bulwarks of the church, but to the contrary broke down those long established standards, altered the old doctrines, and moved the ancient landmarks. While the majority of the older members remained silent, he led the church “forward” on a pathway that has turned her aside into the world. In doing so, this brazen pastor altered the very character of the church. She may continue for the present to retain the same name but she no longer has the same nature. Undoubtedly, he will one day remove even the name to erase the last impediment to his un-baptistizing [My word, but you may freely use it.] this church.

Before this pastor, the church was traditional in music, conservative in practice, and fundamentalist in doctrine: now, the church is contemporary in services, music, standards, clothing, activities, and holds associations with groups formerly unacceptable. The separatist, conservative, Baptist traditions of the church were purposefully thrown in the waste heap as discarded encumbrances. They are no longer considered relevant to the ministry of the church. The relatively few old members (those who predate his arrival) remaining are stunned by what they see and are perplexed and disorientated. They are leaderless because their shepherd has betrayed them. Much as Paul warned (Acts 20:29-30), their pastor has shown himself to be one who entered the sheepfold to devour the flock, “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after” himself. As Jude prophesied (Jude 4), this pastor “crept in unawares.” Steadily, he moved to replace the “old timers” in positions of responsibility and congregational exposure with “fresh” faces; and those attracted to the “new and improved” ministry were given leadership and recognition. As he did so, the old faithful members feared that to challenge the pastor and his ministry would result in a torn and divided congregation, left with a damaged testimony. Good folk began leaving and those who remained discovered that by waiting, this attrition sapped their strength and those with no doctrinal training, no standards, and no heritage to guide them soon outnumbered them. They were troubled by the new “testimony” that the church displayed and feared it was, at best, sounding a most “uncertain sound.” Those older members were trained to respect the office and the person of the pastor and to follow him. Preacher after preacher had promoted (while pounding the pulpit) the theme, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” These good people believed in those days that they were being taught by godly men and they were; however, they came to believe that all their pastors would always be good, godly men worthy of unquestioned trust. They now realize that such is not true. They have discovered to their regret and sorrow that some men in the ministry are not godly, not good, and not honest. These are not the first sheep to be abused by a pseudo-shepherd, a hireling, and they will not be the last. These believers grieve and wonder where their obligations, responsibilities, and duties now lie. They wonder today what is left to do.

Every Christian knows the story of some church or some institution that once held to Biblical truth but that now is an apostate organization, devoid of any semblance of Biblical alignment. Even so, there continues the naïve tendency toward the complacent confidence that such a thing can never touch the church, the school, or agency of fellowship to which that Christian has personal affinity. “It can’t happen to me” is the motto of the deluded. As the American statesman of old warned his compatriots, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” so believers need to be reminded of the continual necessity to “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” [1 Corinthians 16:13].

Every child of God, at some point in his/her Christian life, will be forced to realize that the essential and the only biblical allegiance of any (and every) blood-bought, born-again, heaven-bound child of God is never loyalty to any individual, institution, organization, school, association, convention, fellowship, or church on this earth. It is not recorded in the word of God that any child of God will stand in eternity to give an account before the Judgment Seat of some church, a certain school, a particular institution, a specific preacher, or any organization, association, convention, or fellowship. It is written, and written most boldly, in the word of God that believers “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). It is to the Lord Jesus Christ that we believers will give account of ourselves (Romans 14:12) and we will do so individually and personally to our own Master (Romans 14:4) and not to any other. Therefore, no human being or earthly agency ever should be given more respect, more honor, and more obedience than that given to Christ. The child of God may walk together with any spiritual brother or sister or with any earthly body only as long and only as far as the other walks in the same pathway of obedience, honor, and respect for the Lord Jesus. When any individual or entity leaves the way of truth and righteousness and begins an excursion into disobedience and compromise, then the child of God is under the orders of a biblical mandate to break fellowship, to sever ties, to separate, and to avoid that person or entity. The command is to “Come out from among them and be ye separate.” and to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is unequivocal in its requirements:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

There is no wiggle room allowed for the slightest toleration of moderate compromise. This separation, a definite, defined, and specific “coming out” from among them, is not a matter of “local option” or of “personal discretionary judgment.” It is the God-commanded duty of each (and of all) His children.

Titus 3:10-11 A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

The only viable questions for the child of God who desires to obey his or her Lord are those of why, when, and how to “come out” and, that which is often the most difficult question of all, having “come out, where do we go now?”

Why or when should a believer l

eave his/her church?

As I wrote in the introduction, the answer to this question comes quickly; however, the application of that answer is not quite as easy. In keeping with the Biblical precepts, there must be a confrontation with the error, an appeal for correction, and, when that fails, a departure from the evil. Leaving a church is not to be considered lightly. For a sincere, earnest believer the choice of a home church is among the most important decisions of life. It is as important as is the issue of whom to marry. It is much more important than where to live or where to work. My reader may have difficulty with these analogies; however, I am convinced that they are valid. Where a person chooses to live or to work ought to be determined upon where that person can attend a sound church. The spiritual life is of far greater importance than the material or physical life. Taking employment and then searching for a “good” church is a recognizable symptom that materialism has the wrong priority in the life. Brother Lot and his family would have lived a much better life if he had considered his personal spiritual needs and the spiritual destinies of his family to be of greater importance than the opportunities to advance his income. There are worse things in life than to be poor. Lot became a rich and influential man in his community, but he exerted no godly influence on a single member of his family. One should choose his/her church with much prayer and a great amount of care. Having chosen, then it should be “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do us part.”

Leaving a church is, in effect, a divorce and a funeral rolled together. It will touch every issue and involve every area of life, and the effects of that change will last for generations. Therefore, the leaving had best be for biblical reasons and for biblical reasons alone. The issue that prompts leaving should be of such a nature that it will be considered just and right before the Judgment Seat of Christ. If it is too trivial to defend there, it is too trivial to consider here. Better employment compensation or personal conveniences are not Biblical considerations. Disagreements over material issues, personality clashes, judgment of the actions or of the inactions of others, and all other such secondary affairs are much better settled by kneeling at the altar of prayer than by leaving through the door. One ought to join a church based on the doctrine and the practice of that church and for no other reasons. (Location, facilities, and “ACTIVITY PROGRAMS” are all matters of convenience not doctrine. Doctrine involves the belief and the teaching as well as the preaching; and practice is the application of that doctrine.) Leaving a church ought to be the result of the same degree of consideration as is exercised in joining.

When a church moves from her doctrine and practice (and, in this article, I am presupposing that the churches involved were founded on Bible doctrine and practice), she has changed her nature and that changes her character. Moreover, she is now living under an assumed name, having taken over the established identity and assets of the church that was founded to glorify God, not to pacify humanity. This “new” church” is, in a most real sense, an impostor. It is a fact of history that, when the alteration from a sound church to a place of compromise has fully transpired, the opportunity to salvage that church has expired. In the majority of situations, the godly simply wait too long to confront the ungodliness that is creeping in. The entire body of the church is sacrificed, therefore, for the sake of not offending the gangrenous elements in a member or members. That is unbiblical.

The membership of every church must ever be vigilant to the dangers of the entrance of error. The warnings are clearly stated in the Gospels. The evidence is there in The Acts; the Epistles carry a near universal caution regarding both false teachers and false teachings. For all practical purposes, Jude speaks exclusively on this subject. The Revelation includes seven specific letters to particular churches with multiplied admonitions against the toleration of false teachings or false teachers, and the balance of that book shows the ultimate outcome of the accommodation of error. This watchfulness is not a matter that concerns only pastors and deacons. Individual believers are as responsible as are pastors and deacons to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3). The book of Jude was not addressed exclusively to preachers; it is written “to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.” The same is true of 2 Peter (“to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”), in which chapters two and three fervently demand that false teachers must be confronted, challenged, exposed, and expunged. The same is true of Romans 16:17 and both epistles to the Thessalonians. The word of God assigns the responsibility to every believer to mark and to avoid wrong doctrine. When a church goes into error, it does so under the leadership (or indifference) of the pastor and with the complacency (or inattention) of the congregation. Cowardice in the defense of the Gospel is not the exercise of spiritual graces.

When a believer has raised the issues, with a right spirit, and has compelled the congregation to face the matter and when that church has been called upon either to endorse or to repudiate the false teachings, then that believer has done his/her duty to that church. This should be done as soon as the error surfaces; waiting is dangerous for reasons mentioned above. In entering into a time of such conflict, the believer ought diligently to follow the procedure established in Scripture concerning these actions and should carefully conform to the constitution of the church. If the congregation repudiates the truth and endorses the false, then the believer must “shake the dust” from his feet and leave that which is no longer a true church.

How should he/she leave the church?

The believer who is faced with the adoption of false teachings by his/her church has no choice other than to leave the church. He/she is obligated to oppose and to contend against the error as it is introduced. He/she is obligated to confront the error and to plead for a return to truth; however, when the church has adopted the error, the believer has no right to remain a member. Thus, the question then becomes “how to leave.” The answer is to leave as a Christian should, that is: openly, honestly, decently, orderly, mannerly, quietly, firmly, and completely. Without bitterness or slander, the believer leaves. Gossip is a sin “even in a good cause.” He/she does not begin holding back giving, nor by organizing guerrilla warfare; rather, he/she leaves and begins the search for a new church home.

What happens next?

Where does the believer go?

The easy answer is that the believer seeks to find a true church where biblical doctrine and practice are alive and well in the same community. Convenience of location is not the issue; doctrine and practice are. Size is not a valid consideration, only doctrine and practice are. Yet, not every community has even a single good, sound, New Testament church, let alone two or more. (For a time, as a layman, I drove my family fifty-four miles one-way each service so we could be in a good church.) Small towns are not the only places where this is true. Several larger metropolitan areas do not have one Biblical testimony. The compromise that “Well, I cannot find a good church so I will settle for the lesser of evils” is not only unbiblical, it is cowardly! A pathway is not to be followed, because it will lead to worsening sins.

What should a believer do when he/she lives where no Biblical witness exists?

The proper answer is to seek assistance from a known, established, godly church to organize a mission in the community so that there will be a biblical witness. A church near in proximity is obviously an advantage, but, if need be, a church across the entire nation could be approached for assistance. Churches, in the Biblical pattern, are started by churches. Thus, anywhere a church is needed, help should be sought from an existing, proven church that is maintaining her testimony in sound doctrine and practice. At the same time, prayer for a “church starting preacher” who will surrender to the opportunity should be taken to the Lord of the Harvest at the Throne of God. Tithes and offerings should be set aside and held or (better) forwarded to the mother church for the start of the mission church. The family could begin Bible studies in the home, inviting unsaved neighbors and other unchurched believers to participate, even as they wait (and prepare) for the help of the “mother” church. This study group is not “starting a church” even though the logical times for meeting would be on Sundays. It is a Bible study in preparation for the church to be started (or “planted” as it is often described) by some mother church. If there is no biblically sound church in a community, then the believer needs to pray one into existence and not contribute to the spiritual famine in the land.

As I wrote earlier, the answer is easy to give; however, the application of the answer is not so easy. It will require character and perseverance. However, it is right.

I have not forgotten the text that I cited at the beginning. Job 24

2 Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof. 3 They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge. 4 They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together. 5 Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. 6 They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. 7 They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. 8 They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. 9 They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. 10 They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; 11 Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst. 12 Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them. 13 They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.

Job could have been describing any number of alleged Baptist pastors in the America of 2006. His comments would be a highly accurate description of the modern wolves that come creeping in, wearing sheep’s clothing, and steal away the flocks that were gathered by godly men. One evidence of a wolf is the tendency that he shows to feed on the flock instead of feeding the flock. “Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.” From Florida to Tennessee to Indiana to Michigan to Illinois to Missouri to Kansas to Colorado to California and most states in between, the stolen and scattered flocks are easily identified. Ohio and Kentucky has such churches—churches where once stood patriarchs of the faith firmly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints and now where those same names are considered unworthy to be honored. Some of the pulpits are gone—not just removed and replaced by Plexiglas and stage lights, but they have literally disappeared; the churches no longer exist. Virginia and the Carolinas have such churches—scarcely a state does not have a lengthening list of Baptist churches that have fallen victim to the removal of the landmarks. Where men of God once preached the word of the living God of Heaven, the thieves and robbers have entered in to steal, to kill, and to destroy; the flocks have been scattered and the testimonies have been cast to the ground.

Though the passages were written concerning property boundaries, the spiritual applications are not an improper stretching of the texts.

Deuteronomy 19:14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.

Deuteronomy 27:17 Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.

Proverbs 22:28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.


Much of the loss of churches to apostasy would be eliminated if the pastor would have a man ready to step into the gap created by his departure, whether by resignation or death. Sadly, pastors do not make any provisions for the future of the church they give their life to build. I read and hear much about the concern for “compensation packages” and “retirement benefits,” but very little of “successor preparation” and “continued testimony insurance.” Moses prepared Joshua; Elijah readied Elisha; Christ left His disciples equipped; Paul prepared Timothy, Titus, and a lengthy list of others. I believe that the pastor of every church has the responsibility to look beyond his tenure of ministry and to prepare both the church and a man for the time of his departure. Why do pastors not plan for the day when some one else must pastor the church? The LORD willing I intend to develop the idea further in the next article, but I submit it now in the hopes that some one has insight to contribute.

—Dr. Jerald Manley