Too Much Silence

It’s been a very sad week.

I received word earlier this week that Kim Hall, who for 20 years served as Sr. Pastor of Hunter’s Glen Baptist Church in Plano, TX, committed suicide last weekend. I am somewhat removed from news in the Dallas area but am on Twitter and follow many pastors and a few other Christian-specific news agencies. Frankly, I’ve been a bit astonished at the lack of any kind of conversation or expressions of sympathy that I’ve seen. Surely there are communities of pastoral leadership out there where there have been. I just haven’t seen it.

Regardless of whatever the circumstances were which led to Pastor Hall taking his life, a comrade has fallen, a fellow warrior has gone down, and it has been too quiet. We should be talking about it. I don’t mean talk of speculation about why he may have pulled the trigger, but why life had to arrive at such a painful place that the desire to end his private pain was greater than his desire to continue living and ministering.

There’s just too much silence. It’s the same silence that continues to persist regarding most any pastor who is wounded- whether the wounds are of his own making or not. After all these years of high rates of burnout and ministerial turnover- in other words, ministerial pain- why do denominations still not offer much real help? In my own denomination, our state organization has an entire department dedicated to pastoral leadership and yet offers nothing more than a list of “counselors in your area?”

As a pastor, when you hear of such news, what does it make you feel like inside your heart? Do you grieve? Do you hurt for his family and his church? Do you wonder what could have been done to prevent it from ever happening? I wonder, do you remain silent because of your own fear? Does it remind you of a time or two when you may have had your own fleeting thoughts of suicide? To the point that when you hear such news you privately think to yourself, “I understand how he might have gotten to that terrible place…”?

We sure don’t want to talk about THAT. Yet, pastors need to talk. We must talk. We must have a safe place with safe people where we can share our hurts and struggles and know that we will be loved, supported, and encouraged. We need a place where we know we have friends we can trust. We need our own relationships through which Christ’s healing can flow into one another’s hearts.

I know we’re all busy, but we’re probably too busy when it comes to taking steps to guard our emotional health. Just as you do for your physical health, consider investing time in your emotional health. Commit to participate with a group of fellow pastors that gathers just for that purpose. Pledge your confidentiality to one another. Talk, share, grieve, laugh, and pray together. Experience God’s healing together.

There are many ways to do that but one way is in a CPR group- Celebrate Pastors in Recovery. A CPR group utilizes the Step Study curriculum of Celebrate Recovery to make it a sort of “hybrid”- half Step Study group, half support group. Go to cprpastors.com and let us know you’re interested by completing the brief survey.

10 responses to “Too Much Silence

  1. L.G. Pete Crisswell

    I went through an unwanted divorce 10 years ago, my denomination said basically, ” Good Luck, and keep your tithes up”. I haven’t been back since.
    Even in close denominations, any hurtful spouse, child, or personal situation seems like a death sentence. Other than Father God, the minister should have someone with “Skin on”, to confide in and receive healing for all.

  2. This is sad. It hurts to hear this. May the Lord grant the family the grace to bear this. Pastors need prayers. Church members must be encouraged to pray for their pastors on regular bases.

  3. It is very sad that someone who devoted their life to ministering to people was in such pain that he ended his own life. There are too many leaders in pain and obviously dont feel they can share it with anyone. A pastor I have known for years, whose wife got very sick and still is, has now left her and is with another woman that was in his church. He has resigned from his church and now has nothing to do with many in his family. I have tried to reach out but he won’t respond. He is the last one I would have ever imagined would do something like this. Had he had a safe group or someone to talk to maybe this would not have happened. So many people are hurting because of his actions, but obviously he was and is hurting also to go this far off the path after all of the years of faithfully serving God, his church family and family at home.

  4. Thanks to Pastor Hester for these insightful words-and actions! Having led a CR group in our area for over 2 years I can support the plea that pastors need this safe fellowship. They can join w/ “regular” CR folks if they choose also but I can see where a group of fellow pastors could find grreater intimacy and healing…much like the leaders of CR groups do when they gather. Hats off to CPR!

  5. I am on staff at Hunters Glen where Dr. Hall served. We have received hundreds of emails, cards, notes from Pastors and churches regarding this loss. We are deeply saddened that our Pastor was in so much pain but did not feel as if he could share with anyone. We had just begun a process of Staff Care for our team to help them deal with their hurts, habits and hangups. As a CR church we have seen God’s healing power in the lives of those who have been a part of this ministry. We are now more committed than ever to help those who serve in ministry to take the time necessary and the means necessary for self care. I will be contacting area Pastors in the days ahead to join us in a CPR group. Thank you for your prayers for our church family and for Dr. Hall’s family.

  6. Yes, we do need outlets like this; tell me, which Pastor at some point have never thought of giving up or quitting?

  7. I agree wholeheartedly that pastors are men and inside have the capacity to be just as busted and hoping the ministry and service will fill the void. I can only imagine what the church is going through. Better to get the help that’s needed than join the ranks of the crashed and burned. That’s why I’m a fan of New Life Ministries and participate in Every Man’s Battle Community (where I’ve met many a pastor, which is a *good* thing). I too have seen what CR can do and loved participating with two different pastors, seeing God work in their lives as well as those attending.

  8. My parents went to Hunter’s Glenn Church. I went once in the late 80s. It was a typical “Plano” church . They were a 501c business , in a very well to do town, with a reasonably client base. Look, I’ve been burned by “Christians” too many times. My bet is his gay lover was about to “out ” him, or he was molesting a child or something was about to be brought into the open. At least he didn’t kill his family.

    • Steve,

      I’ve posted your comment in its entirety, without redaction, for a number of reasons. First off, you’re not the only person who feels this disenfranchised with the church and church leadership. Without taking too many liberties, I can safely say that many of us who are a part of the CR movement and the CPRpastors movement in particular have been a part of the problem before trying to be part of the solution. For my own duplicity and hypocrisy while serving as a leader of churches, I offer you a most sincere amend (an apology plus a declaration of having examined my ways and chosen to be transparent, living in accountability).

      Secondly, the Celebrate Recovery movement and its sibling, the Celebrating Pastors in Recovery movement, are unfortunately a rarity amongst typical pastoral communities in that I have found them to be a safe place to be real, to be broken, to drop the facade, and to heal in community. There is a phrase floating around CR: “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” – it succinctly captures why your comment needs to be read, examined, and responded to by those who are in the community of church leadership.

      Though I have no particular knowledge of the Hunter’s Glenn situation other than what has been reported by the media, I can offer much less dramatic, yet nonetheless salient, pieces of my own experience as a leader in the church. You may (or may not – I make no assumptions out of respect for the wounds you have sustained by those who are “Christians,” as you have written) be surprised to learn that many church cultures of which I (and my colleagues over the years) have been a part actually preferred the facade of being “fine” worn upon their pastoral leadership rather than the authentic patina of human, fallible leaders called to serve. The church culture placed both unrealistic and wholly unhealthy expectations upon leaders. Let me be absolutely clear: such a climate of expectation and denial in NO way excuses the behavioral atrocities that have made the headlines, and especially the behavior of leaders that continue to exist in protected obscurity.

      The responsibility to address this corporate and cultural denial is twofold: the churches must reexamine the notion of authentic, Biblical servant-leadership; and leaders finding themselves in such cultures of denial and duplicity must no longer ignore the responsibility to seek a healing community where transparency and rigorous self-examination in the company of leaders seeking to live out the truthful ways and means of Jesus.

      In my experience and observations, sick cultures breed isolation, which in turn skews sensitivities and quickly leads to an uncalibrated life. We, the church, have a sound Biblical model for living in community, but it must be one that transcends an hour on Sunday morning and that doesn’t vilify discussion of the human condition. Celebrate Recovery makes a viable attempt to drop the pretense, to create a safe venue where Jesus can meet us where we are, and to draw us in and through community to a place of greater honesty, humility, self-examination, and service, just as Jesus models. Rome wasn’t built in a day – it has taken decades and even centuries for some of these cultures of denial to calcify and to cement their ways as normative with a distorted yet powerful coefficient of “God” – an unfortunate phenomenon. Hope is rising – communities like Celebrate Recovery and Celebrating Pastors in Recovery (CPRpastors) are opening their doors to the wounded and the wounded leaders.

      Steve, and others who have been “burned” or wounded by the church, I can only hope that you see a genuineness in the likes of CR and CPRpastors to embrace the wounded as Christ would, but to also catalyze a movement of grateful followers of Jesus Christ who may struggle, but continue to grow in community, living examined lives, and inviting others into this way of living. I don’t pretend to think that a few words in response to your genuine declaration of hurt, disenchantment, and eventual dismissal of the church on a blog could even begin to be enough. I do write with sincerity, Steve – I am truly sorry that you got burned. If it means anything, I did too. Thank you for taking the time to post your experience. My first hope: that you would give us another chance to show our sincerity through our actions and our words. My second hope: your honesty will open some dialogue.

      Have you been hurt? Have you been a part of a church culture that hurt people?

  9. Continued: When knowing that deeds like this are committed while “under the influence,” it removes the awful angst of the “why” even though the results are still devastating. Your CPR for pastors is a good place for ministers, and I pray for complete healing for those involved. May God, in his mercy, hear your prayers. Many blessings to you!

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