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Leaving a church honorably means knowing what will help in the long run.

Bob had all the marks of a hurting pastor. I sat across the coffee shop table and hurt with him. He had recently finished his first year in Judson Church and celebrated the congregation's fiftieth anniversary. It had not gone well. He needed to talk, and I provided the listening ear.

Bob's predecessor, Wayne, had had a long and fruitful ministry at Judson. When he left for a larger congregation, the people were convinced they would be a long time finding a successor to match Wayne's gifts.

The search committee, however, knew Bob had great abilities. When he came to Judson, the church zoomed forward. Bob's sensitivity to singles, the divorced, and widows and widowers soon had Judson bursting with new people. The congregation had grown nearly 50 percent in the first year with its new pastor.

Some folks, however, didn't like this. All these "different" people from the community took away the feeling of the "old Judson."

In planning the fiftieth anniversary, the leadership pressed Bob into inviting ...

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