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The Wars You Can't Win
Andy Bustanoby
(C) September 3, 2005

     No, this isn't about our current war on terrorism.  It's about
     guerrilla warfare in the church.

     After thirteen years in the pastorate, I left in 1973.  I was a
     "pastoral dropout."  Though I don't have any statistics on the
     present situation in the pastorate, my search through Google reveals
     that a great deal of attention is being given to the subject.

     The reason for my leaving the pastorate is a long story.  But you
     can read it in the Christianity Today publication, Leadership
     (Winter 1993, Volume XIV, Number 1).  The entire issue is on church
     conflict.  Or you can get a copy of my article by sending me an
     e-mail (see address at end of blog).

     Though there are many reasons for pastors leaving, the lament that
     breaks my heart, one that I hear again and again, is that of Elijah
     whom The Apostle Paul quotes:

         "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars;
         I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me" (Rom.

     That may sound a bit melodramatic, but not to those who have been
     there or are there now.  For those who are there now, I share with
     you the major points of my conclusion, "Signs of a No-Win War."

     **Is there a history of factionalism?  Sometimes new pastors are not
     aware of past problems in the church.  Even though I knew of some
     when I accepted the pastorate of this church, I was naive.

     **Are your peace initiatives having no effect?  Not only did my
     efforts at making peace have no effect, the guerrillas kept sniping
     at me and my family after we left.

     **Are the leaders willing to pay the price to win the war?  What
     kind of elders and deacons do you have?  Are they spiritually minded
     people with some combat experience?  There will be casualties.

     **Is there enough popular support to win the war?  While I had over
     eighty-percent of the congregation behind me, other factors made me
     realize that this would be an unnecessarily bloody war.

     **Is the opposition willing to negotiate, or do they demand
     unconditional surrender?  They demanded unconditional surrender.

     **Are you unable to protect your own family?  This was probably the
     hardest part.  My wife and four sons were being wounded too.

     **Do you know why you're fighting?  Is there any element in your
     personality that drives you to win?  I'm not talking about being led
     of God.  I'm talking about a fleshly need to win.

     If you are a pastor facing what may look like a no-win situation,
     I'd be happy to correspond with you.  We may not know what God is
     doing, but He does.  I end my article in Leadership with these

         Though this episode of my life was painful, if I could write a
         finale, it would read as Job's:  "The Lord blessed the latter
         part of [his] life more than the first."

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