Preaching and visitation are essential in any pastorate, but in a broken church, their need is magnified.
I was jogging down the street, thinking about my new church (I had arrived in Manassas only a few weeks earlier), when a man I had never seen motioned with his hand for me to stop. I stopped and tried to catch my breath.
"Are you the new pastor of Manassas Baptist?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, smiling.
"I'll never go there again!" he exclaimed heatedly. Then he began an angry tirade about the church's hypocrisy, its control by a few members, its lack of love. Thirty minutes later, he was finished.
I could tell he had been deeply hurt, but I wasn't sure what to say. I only knew this was going to be the most difficult pastorate of my ministry.
The previous pastor at Manassas, whom I'll call Fred Sharpe, had resigned under pressure from charges of sexual indiscretions and aberrant theology. When I had candidated, the pastoral search committee described the problems in general ...1