Late last year the New Zealand Herald highlighted the drama whereby 55 teachers walked away from the schools where this particular head master was in service.
I would imagine, something was not quite right where 55 teachers walk. There is a long and con-fluted process whereby all this is checked out by the Teachers Council and New Zealand Education.
But it illustrates the issue that where there is a mass walk out in whatever industry whether it be over a month, a year, two years or even four years, something needs to be done to rectify 'something'.
In the book Band of Brothers and the DVD series there is an incident not dissimilar to this. The officer who had trained the men State side and led them across to England was clearly unsuitable for combat leadership and the eight sergeants all resigned from the regiment believing their and their men's lives would be in mortal danger.
One of these sergeants was kicked out to another regiment, one demoted and the others were lucky not to have suffered a similar fate. The officer, was transferred to another parachute training facility where doctors and chaplains were given jump training skills. The top brass were astute enough to recognise there was a problem.
What of the Church?
Now we're in to a dog's breakfast as the usual way members of congregations of expressing their displeasure of the minister or the church leadership is to walk away. They pack their bags, as it were, and move to another church or cease attending altogether, and in some cases, someone rescues them to a home church.
The issue of church leadership is number one in every church survey of church issues, it heads training courses at seminaries and bible colleges, and it is a constant at Christian conferences.
So what happens?
It depends on the governance of the church. If it is an Anglican parish and such a huge number of long term parishioners walk out the door, the regional Bishop will steps in pretty quickly and try to put matters right.
In the hilarious television series The Vicar of Digby (where truth and fiction merge), John Horton the local aristocrat and "Church warden heavy" whose parish numbers were down to less than a handful, rings the Bishop as soon as he realises the new vicar is a woman. Vicar Geraldine was one step closer to the "leftie" Bishop who asked how Luigui was?
But all became well when at the thanksgiving service for the pets of the village and farming community, they couldn't everyone in let alone the animals much to David Horton's total astonishment. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways.
But in the non-conformist church for the most part, the clergy are Called to serve a congregation, or a Pastor (Minister) feels Called to minister in a particular congregation. Ministers come and go over a long period of time. But on the whole, there is a steady mainstream on the congregation whose families have been worshipping in such churches for generations.
This is where most church dramas are initiated - these long standing congregational members believe they own their churches - maybe own is a too strong word, rather their influence and financial input outweighs any upstart Minister's rash ideas. Ministers on the other hand come into a staid almost dysfunctional church situation and believe with all their heart and being they have been called to initiate a fresh revelation. What occurs is conflict. People leave. Ministers leave. Nothing gets resolved. The same thing happens over and over again.
Pentecostals have a different philosophy. If you believe God has called you to found a church, put out your shingle, and off you go with God's speed. Mostly I works, then the pastor is able to establish the type of church and worship format in his/her keeping. Moreover there is never a problem with people coming or going, it's the nature of the process of Pentecostalism.
This is a list of the types of dramas associated with people leaving churches -
Colour of the carpet
Changing the seating
Tiny tots running about
Gays attending church
Defactos attending church
You name, it'll be on someone's list.
Yet Christ loves the Church and died for it, its people, and all its faults and dramas. Now, that's a mystery!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html