If a minister of the Word is judged unfit and incapable of serving the congregation fruitfully and to its edification, without there being any reason for Church discipline, the consistory with the deacons shall not dismiss him from his service within the congregation without the approbation ofclassis and the concurring advice of the deputies of regional synod, and not without proper arrangements regarding the support of the minister and his family for a reasonable period of time.
If no call is forthcoming in three years, he shall be declared released from his ministerial status by the classis in which he served last.
 With Art. 11 we deal with one of the sad and deplorable fruits of our fall into sin. Although we are told in God's Word that we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, yet we discover time and again that we live in a broken world and that even in the church of Christ there are situations in which we have to come to the conclusion: "Here fruitful cooperation is no longer possible." Most of the times when such a situation occurs it will be impossible to determine where the larger part of the cause for it is to be sought.
Generally speaking, the churches are very patient with their ministers and the congregations bear very patiently with the weaknesses and shortcomings of their pastors and teachers. In every congregation there are members in whose view almost no one can do any good and who criticize practically everything a minister does. We are not speaking of them, but of the large majority of the membership. Reformed people have learned to esteem their ministers highly because of their work. That is the overall picture.
In spite of this it can happen and does happen that the relation between a congregation and its minister deteriorates to such an extent that fruitful cooperation is no longer possible. Perhaps the minister could serve elsewhere with good results, but in his own congregation it cannot be done. Everything the minister says and does rubs all but a few in the congregation the wrong way, and every word or deed on the part of the large majority of the congregation ruffles the minister's feathers.
One could say, of course, that this is sinful and that repentance is needed — and no one will deny this. Everyone can also be assured that both within the circle of the consistory as well as with the help of Church Visitors and others it has been tried to remedy the situation, but ultimately the conclusion must be: "We are faced with an impossible situation." Continuing under the present circumstances would practically amount to self-destruction for the minister as well as for the congregation, to put it bluntly. No one can bear such tension.
The minister has to prepare and deliver two sermons every Lord's Day, has to face and teach the young people at catechism classes, has to visit
 and meet the members in their homes. If he feels that there is a general animosity towards him, it will become utterly impossible for him to continue. Who would be able to proclaim the Word of God from the pulpit with joy and dedication if he were faced with an essentially hostile audience? Delivering a sermon from the pulpit is not the same as delivering a speech at a political rally with a booing and jeering audience! The congregation may not interrupt a sermon — although this has happened as well — but a minister senses it whether there is contact with his hearers and whether the hearts are open to the message.
On the other hand, the congregation has to listen to him twice a Sunday and they may detect personal barbs in what he is saying from the pulpit. They may have had serious clashes with him during the week and then discover that in the sermon they are being castigated from the pulpit in a very personal manner. They have to receive the minister in their homes, to submit to his admonitions if he has to admonish, while his words of comfort will not hit home either because of the personal relationship.
Such a situation does not arise overnight but is the result of a long and sad development. When it does exist, there is not much human beings can do. Our conclusion must be: the only solution is that their ways part.
If there is reason for discipline, if there is false doctrine on the part of the minister, or if there is a serious sin in his life, the way of dismissal may not be chosen. Then the only course open is disciplinary action: suspension and, if no repentance follows, deposition from office. What Art. 11 refers to and covers is a situation in which no specific sin is present which would warrant and necessitate disciplinary action.
As everyone can understand, a deteriorating situation also brings with it that not all words that are spoken to each other are pure and that not every gesture is of a friendly nature. Many sins will be committed when things go from bad to worse. These are not the things meant here. What should be clear is that the way of dismissal is not permitted to be a method of escaping discipline and the need for suspension. It may not be a pretext.
If there is no reason for discipline because of a specific sin which renders one worthy of suspension, release or dismissal is the only solution. Certainly, a minister is called for life, but when a consistory has come to the conclusion that for both parties the way of separation is the only solution, the minister is released from his call and will, from the moment when the dismissal becomes effective, no longer be subject to the call from the church. In fact, from that moment on he no longer has a call. A consistory does not issue a call to be "minister-for-life." It has no right to do so. A consistory issues a call to serve as minister in that particular church, there to serve for life, indeed, but only for as long as he is subject to its call, not as a minister-for-life regardless whether he has a bond with that specific church or not. Thus, when the minister is released from the call by that particular church, he no longer has a call to be a minister.
A consistory with the deacons will not lightly come to such a decision and will have explored every other possible avenue to bring about a reversal of the situation. However, the consistory not only has the responsibility for the
 minister, it also has to keep the welfare and interests of the whole congregation in view. The brothers are not allowed to sacrifice the minister for the sake of the congregation, but by the same token they are not allowed to sacrifice the congregation for the sake of the minister either.
Certain safeguards must be observed. Before a decision to dismiss the minister becomes effective, classical approval must be obtained. Regional-synodical deputies must be present as well and they must agree that this is the only solution. Most likely the sister churches were already well-informed about the situation and church visitors will have reported at one or more classes about their efforts to help remove the difficulties. A thorough examination of the situation is needed when the request for approval is received.
When an agreement and consent have been achieved, the minister is released from the call of the congregation to serve as its pastor and teacher, and the bond which was established with his installation is severed. The minister no longer has a congregation and the congregation is vacant.For a long time it could be expected that this would be the end of a long a* d sad development. Perhaps the minister, seeing the "solution" coming, and realizing that he would have to provide for his own needs and those of his family, has already been thinking about ways and means to do this. He will realize that the possibilities of receiving a call from another church are very slim indeed. The Reformed pattern of church government does not allow for an hierarchically arranged transfer to another church. Thus the moment will come that he is completely on his own.