When Sheep Attack
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,590
    Book available at: http://www.episkopols.com/

    [while written for Episcopal and Protestant congregations where the pastor can be easily ousted, this may still be of great use for Catholic musicians...]

    From the website

    Would you believe that in just a matter of a few weeks your pastor and his family could be abused, humiliated, and unemployed? In just a matter of days your parish could be split down the middle. A couple of months from now close to forty percent of the people you currently see at worship could no longer be there. Close to half of those will never again attend worship or participate in any church. Friends that you see talking and laughing this Sunday may never speak again.

    The substance of this book is based on twenty-five clergy and congregations that have lived through that very scenario. The clergy were bullied and then attacked by a small group of antagonists in their congregations. The antagonists successfully “removed them.” Thriving and growing congregations under their leadership were left with diminished attendance, membership and financial resources.

    This book explains how it happened. The characteristics of the antagonists. It identifies the toxic elements in the congregational system that allowed the antagonists to succeed. It explores what could have been done to stop them. And finally, the author suggests measures that clergy and congregations can put in place to make sure that it doesn’t happen to them.

    This is a must read for clergy and lay leaders. Discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter. It is perfect for a vestry or board retreat or to be utilized as a study before each meeting.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,353
    I was a researcher for another helpful book along these lines, called Pastors in Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Ministry.

    Here's a review: http://www.christiancentury.org/article.lasso?id=1572
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "congregations where the pastor can be easily ousted,"

    That's not just the protestants. Catholics may not be successful at it, but a Catholic priest can receive plenty of encouragement to leave if he thinks with the mind of the Church, instead of the mind of the church.

    Or I thought you were referring to this.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    Don't think they won't be successful at it, Gavin. If enough noise is made to the bishop, the bishop may well decide to put a new pastor in who doesn't make waves, keeps people happy, and keeps the money flowing to the diocese, sending the incumbant to be an associate pastor somewhere, or a pastor of a small, country parish.
  • redsox1
    Posts: 202
    I lived through it. My wife and I relocated to the Midwest to be near her family. I was at a mainline Protestant church (no good Catholic positions in the area) where a pastor had been run out of town about a year before I came on board. I knew there had been a fight, but this happens not infrequently in Protestant congregations. Usually, things settle down and the church moves on.

    Not in this case. The small but vocal minority that ran the pastor out of town kept antagonizing. The congregation was split. A minority who were extreme loyalists to the former pastor wouldn't cede any ground either and the vast majority in the middle were powerless. The same grievances were played out over and over again. The congregation (and the money) continued to dwindle. The environment was toxic. My full-time music position (which had been full-time since the congregation's founding) was cut to part-time. We had to move (although I am happy to once again be in a Catholic position.) The last I heard there were about 50 that regularly attended on Sunday morning and the music budget was about $200 a year! This church used to have section leaders from one of the best music schools in the country. Easter and Christmas were celebrated regularly with chamber orchestra. There was a historically significant pipe organ and this was a well-known congregation in its denomination.

    It can happen anywhere.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    My first church job, very part-time, was in a tiny Lutheran parish that had split a year earlier. I never knew what the problem was, but it was such a small church that it could ill afford having half the congregation go down the road.

    Years later, I had a harp student whose rural church was going through a similar crisis. The assistant minister led half the members off to form his own nondenominational church.

    If that wasn't bad enough, the music director was arrested for misappropriating government funds (he was mayor of one of the small towns there). The parent denomination, I think they were United Methodist, sent in an older minister whose specialty was "broken churches" with the task of putting things back together. While their music program may have been severely limited, all of this just about did it in.
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,590
    A man is living, due to a shipwreck, on an island. After 3 years he is finally rescued by a passing ship.

    But before leaving, the captain of the ship asked to see where this man had been living.

    They entered a small grove of palm trees which had two huts, one to the left, one to the right.

    "On the left there, that's my church." he said.

    "So the other one's where you lived?"

    "No, I'm a Southern Baptist, that's the church I used to go to."

    This does explain why down here it is not uncommon to find FOR SALE signs in front of churches.
    Thanked by 1bhcordova
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,590
    Has anyone on this list been removed by a pastor because he wanted you out?

    Or, as has been my experience, have a small group of singers in the church...often cantors who want things back the way it was before you got there...having done their best to discourage new singers who were interested in the group...solved their problem, the new director, the new music, the new people, by poisoning the pastor with their take on things?

    It is extremely rare for a musician to be removed for the music they pick alone...possibly since there is already so much bad music to choose from!
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    Short story.

    I was "forced" to resign from a position because a small group of agitators finally came up with the perfect set-up to get me out: they had two 8th grade girls accuse me of "threatening" them during a rehearsal. No evidence, no corroborating witnesses, no investigation.

    Two weeks of hell, threats of civil and criminal actions, attorney's fees and I was left with nothing.

    Enough said.
  • That's awful David ... it makes my story look like a walk in the park.

    I, too, was forced out of a previous position, because a small family of [amateur] musicians wanted to take over the entire music ministry. In additional to myself, they also forced out the remaining organist and dismantled the original folk group (in place of their own "family folk group").
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,319
    I know that a small but vocal Neo-Cat group at a parish about 10 miles away from forced the ouster of a non-sympathetic pastor. Instead of a sympathetic pastor, though, they go a traditionalist-leaning ex-Jesuit who I am quite sure does not coddle the sometimes odd liturgical praxis favored in certain NC circles.... I think the chancery decided to have a sense of black humor about the ferocious sheep.
  • Michael O'Connor
    Posts: 1,637
    ... and so many say that it's better now that the Latin and professional musicians are gone...
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,590
    I am just finishing this book....anyone else ever read it? I am preparing a review.
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,590
    When Sheep Attack

    Understanding how good people doing excellent work can find themselves jobless....and how to prevent this from happening to you.

    You take over a parish, a church, a non-profit group or, as in my case, a music program at a church. Under your guidance it begins to grow and begins to attract more and more attention. Your work begins to get noticed and word gets out more and more that this is the place to go to, as in my case, hear great church music sung as it should be. Possibly a news article appears or a blogger posts a favorable description of your work.

    The growth of your work increases the financial income of the church through people transferring their memberships to be part of your program.

    Then you find yourself fired. Often suddenly and without notice. It happened to me. Not only did you not do anything wrong, you did everything right.

    If you are like me, you spend the next few months wondering what happened. And might even find it hard to even get interviews for a new job.

    You experience frustration along with all the people who loved your work and worked with you. It becomes general knowledge that just a few people were behind your removal, a tiny minority of the membership. And you did nothing wrong, instead you did everything right.


    In my case, I eventually got hired on a three month period to replace a musician who left during the school year. And, to my surprise, over just three months I saw the same key things popping up that I had seen before. Interesting.

    Since then I have thought about this more and more and felt the frustration of not being able to understand why this was happening.

    Then I read When Sheep Attack by Dennis Maynard.

    Now I understand exactly what happened...not only in the present but also over the years of my career. It's something new that has been growing for years, and is becoming more and more pervasive and you need to know about this if you excel at what you do.

    The book costs $15 and is worth every penny.

    I'll follow the plan laid out in this book at my next position and know that my work will not be put in jeopardy as it has been in the past. Maynard's work is groundbreaking and should be a topic of discussion whenever you meet with people who work as we do in churches, schools and non-profits. I should add, that this would solve a lot of grief in the corporate world as well.

    Noel Jones, AAGO
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    wow, this book sounds wonderful. I just ordered it. Can't wait!
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,590
    An additional benefit is that it discusses the Episcopal church quite a bit so the advice applies to the Catholic church and its staff structuring very nicely.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    If it helps other musicians, I will certainly post a review.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I've just finished the book. It is extremely revealing and rings true in every way. Essentially it is this. Every parish has about 2% of the membership that can be defined as antagonists who the intention of destroying growth and development. They target new people responsible for growth, and they use predictable methods of driving their enemies out. They often succeed, except in the cases where a strong Bishop backs the priest or the priest back the newly hired professional such as a musician. This is the exceptional case. The suggestion in this book is that you look very carefully at parish history before taking a job. The antagonists don't reveal themselves right away. But parish history shows that if this group has been successful in the past, they will try again.

    This book is very well research and documented. It could become an important book for musicians in the future.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    I plan to read this book, but before you blame everything on the sheep... Musicians sometimes create their own problems. I have known musicians who were erratic, disorganized, unreliable, and lacking in people skills. When the inevitable happened, it was all the fault of the sheep. It can be the sheep, and/or a musician that causes a parish music position to disintegrate.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    That's true enough. This book addresses a particular type of problems. It doesn't purport to account for all parish conflicts.
  • I recently got a personal email from a musician who is suddenly on the outs with his pastor and not sure why.

    Based upon what we have learned from WSA, what would you recommend he do?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,353
    On Sunday: lay low, do a good job. Meet expectations in style; exceed expectations in quality.

    On Monday or Tuesday: Shoot an FYI email to the pastor letting him know of a compliment received by the choir.

    On Friday: "happen" to pass the pastor in the hallway, and ask if the pastor has any special musical requests for the weekend. Avoid controversy. Lay low. If there's a storm you want it to pass. The new great innovation or ecclesiastical showdown can wait until communication improves.
    On Sunday: etc.

    I believe people respond more to their own perceptions more than they respond to all but the most unbearable pressures. If a pastor interacts with someone who is always professional and cooperative WITH HIM, he will be very willing to ignore some pressure. Be tactful, and realize that the pastor is a) answerable to the bishop and to God for the overall well being of the parish, and b) has a lot of puzzle pieces to put together.

    People believe what they see for themselves.
  • Interesting - TRIANGLE. childhood replace with music positions


    (Also read Kathy's very insightful post just above)
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 968
    And don't forget, the women's altar guild is THE MOST POWERFUL force in the parish. If they want a priest, musician, nun, etc. gone - it's only a matter of time. Seen it happen before.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Liam
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Actually, in our parish, it is the local embroiderers guild. They know all, tell all, and are behind most intrigue.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,319
    Be especially careful with the Sicilian widows: they're watching you, and kill silently, from a great distance.

    Thanked by 2francis CharlesW
  • I'm actually currently dealing with a similar situation where there is a new priest who does not want me there. I noticed a strong sense of animosity because of my traditional tastes.
    The past few years I have been building a better repertoire at our church and the former pastor was very supportive of the musical choices and many people in the congregation told me that they appreciate what I am doing.

    Unfortunately, the former pastor was driven out by antagonists within the parish and when I sent the music/hymn list for June to December to the new pastor, he said "I believe that you may not understand Catholic Worship and where the Church has been nor where it is going." He said that I reflect an "older mindset" that he experienced thirty years ago. He also said that he personally likes traditional hymns, however they do not speak to him nor do they reflect the spirit of the Church today. He said that he is willing to speak with me so that I can "get a grasp of liturgy today" and build up the community of our church.

    I think it would be very unpastoral to change direction of the musical style abruptly. I am meeting with the priest tomorrow and would make the suggestion that we have a separate mass that contains contemporary music. I would also like to get a better idea of what his goals are for the music at our church. The parish consists of mostly older people and I barely see anyone under 40 at mass. The priest wants to attract a younger crowd by switching to contemporary music for all the masses. He also wants to have our early 9am mass to be the children's mass which I agree with. However, he announced to members of the congregation during coffee hour that there will be a children's choir without ever speaking with me about it. He said that he will be sitting in on the "practices" and started singing some of the songs that he would like them to know.
    I am considering leaving the position if we cannot come to a compromise.

  • So what exactly is the spirit of the Church today?

    Why is it that "traditionalists" can always come up with a unified and clear answer for what the Church should embody, but the only answer on the other side is merely "whatever isn't traditional"?
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,047
    Invincible ignorance, Schonbergian. That's the 'spirit' we encounter.
    Thanked by 1dmandalak
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,216
    @dmandalak -- Get. Out. Now.

    Start sending resumes out tonight. That priest will get rid of you at his earliest opportunity, and will humiliate you and tie your hands until he can get rid of you. He cannot be convinced, and I sincerely encourage you not to waste your energy.
  • Irishtenor's right Dman. Get the hell outta dodge. If only for this reason - anyone who makes the thoroughly nonsensical remark that they "like traditional hymns" but that they "don't speak to him" cannot be trusted to act logically - only politically.
  • He also said that he personally likes traditional hymns, however they do not speak to him nor do they reflect the spirit of the Church today.

    In order to know the spirit of the church today one must read the headlines. If one is not happy with today's headlines then maybe one should consider a return to reason and a return to tradition.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Am I the only one who doesn't think the "church today" is doing so great? Looks like it is declining rather than growing. Maybe they are doing something wrong, ya think?
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    Yes, as I can speak from experience, as many of us here can, Dmandalak will not have a good experience with this priest unless he/she decides to conform. Even then, the priest will still likely keep a very close eye on him/her because of past traditionalist preferences. Neither person, priest nor musician, will be comfortable until the other leaves.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW kenstb
  • I was told by the pastor that the PM said that she did not want depressing chant during the Easter Vigil because it will dampen the spirit of the new baptismal candidates. I agreed, and told pastor that we will not sing the Exultet, the Litany of the saints, the Lord's prayer, or the responsorial Psalms or the Alleluia and sequence on Easter. Pastor: " Never mind."
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,319
    Just add tambourine to perk things up...
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160

    Prime Minister? Power Monger? Post Menop…..? (nevermind.) Proprieties Manager? Paraliturgical Mediator? Personhood Mogul?
  • kenstb
    Posts: 363
    I am completely disheartened by what I'm reading here. How long has your new pastor been in the parish without sitting down to talk to you about the liturgy? It seems to me that he isn't interested in what you see, regardless of the experience you have in the parish. That being the case, you need to get out of there A.S.A.P. I have had to work with a pastor like that before and it affected my spiritual life in a very bad way. As much as you may be committed to the work, move on to sow your seed on less rocky ground.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,628
    The demographic category that needs to be considered as central in parishes is not teenagers and twenty-somethings. They do not lead families. Fathers and mothers do, and the fathers (for some reason, I don't know why) have more influence than the mothers.

    If the dads sing, then the moms sing, and the kids sing. If the dads don't sing, then the teens don't sing. (As a cantor, I can see this in action: I see teens look at the dads to assess whether singing along is OK or if it's beneath their dignity.) If the dads don't attend Mass, then the children, when they are independent, will not attend Mass.

    So forget about little kiddie songs and forget about the Christian-radio pop songs that sound as though Jesus were the singer's boyfriend. And cut back on the tricky syncopations and the sappy musical-theater tunes in which the last note of every phrase is held for two measures.

    Father probably has no idea about this.
  • Possible long term suggestion / thought for classically / traditionally minded persons. Gather together as many like mind people / parishioners from as many local churches in your area and form an independent autonomous Anglican Use parish where the congregation hires the pastor directly. Then place that parish under the leadership of the Anglican Use bishop.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW dmandalak
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Anybody else notice chonak has a gazillion posts?
    "I'm thinking 'conspiracy'" (Alex Jones)
    Thanked by 2chonak CharlesW
  • Your post count isn't too shabby, melo. Perhaps it is a chonak/melo conspiracy.
    Thanked by 1WGS
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    I have 9,179 now maybe going to 9,180. If you add in Melo's posts when he was Charles in Central CA, or some such, he may have more than all of us.

    I like the way Ken of Sarum thinks.
  • It's also worth noting that in several studies encompassing all religion and not just Christianity, the more traditional denominations/sects retain the youth far better than the more liberal ones do in the long run.

    If you show up to church only to experience worldly things, then why not just experience those worldly things properly and cut church out of the equation entirely?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,628
    Or, to quote a pop-culture illustration:
    Thanked by 2eft94530 francis
  • ...congregation hires... directly...

    Except that it doesn't.
    You are thinking of the Episcopal Church, in which rectors (=pastors) are decided upon, you might say, collectively by a parish's elected vestry (=parish council, but with teeth) and the bishop. This would never happen in the Ordinariate, in which pastors are appointed by the bishop, just like other Catholics.

    (Bishops' powers in the Episcopal Church vary, depending upon diocesan canons, which vary. Some bishops have considerably more powers than others.)
  • dmandalak: using only hymns does not make a traditional liturgy.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    True, Jackson. But you can organize then appeal to a bishop for a priest.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • What I have in mind is NOT like any Episcopal or Catholic church or any other church currently in existence except perhaps the Mariner's Church in Detroit. I merely mentioned the Anglican Use as it relates to quality traditional sacred liturgy and music. The focus of my thinking is perhaps controversial in that each parish would be controlled by a governing board, vestry, chapter or committee. Although I personally dislike this seemingly protestant concept of congregationalist purantism, I believe that power and control must be taken away from clergy at this time in history due to their collective mismanagement and sinfulness. Of course not all clergy fall under this indictment, but until the Church Universal in all of Christendom is cleaned up, I believe the laity must step up and take over the reigns of temporal control. I beg forgiveness in saying this and it grieves me considerably, but I see no other way from a purely practical perspective. Of course it would take laity of extra-ordinary character and courage. Again, I beg forgiveness in putting forth this idea in light of recent developments.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,633
    Ken: that congregationalist approach is liable on the one hand to usurpation by charismatic leaders, and on the other hand to the well known failings of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
    The governance of the Catholic church depends on, I suspect has always depended on, individual responsibility. The pastor of the parish has responsibility for everything, just as the captain of a British naval vessel has absolute responsibility. If the ship runs aground, the captain cannot just say 'I was not on watch, I was in my cabin asleep'. That may be mitigation but it is not exoneration. Similarly the bishop has total responsibility, at least that is my understanding of Canon Law.
    E said that S should do it. S said that A could do it. N did it.
    E was cross because N did what S should have done.
    Thanked by 2Carol Incardination