I am a pastor who has experienced the aggressive attempt to force me out of the ministry. I read Pastor VanMehren's letter of resignation on a popular conservative site, and although I thought it was unfortunate that he resigned, I found the typical conservative responses disheartening. Almost every time the aggressively evil in the congregation succeed in destroying a man, some conservative jerk will make the point that it is almost never the way the pastor describes it, that there are always two sides to every story, and that the pastor did himself no favors doing this thing or that.
As a former participant in the survival game, I can attest that just because there are laymen who want to blame the pastor, and tell stories on him, does not mean that the laymen are honest. I have stood in meetings where people I had counted as close friends in the congregation stood up and announced that I said or did something that I did not. It was not a case of misunderstanding, it was a case of total fabrication. And when I responded that it was simply not so, that I never said or did what was announced, others would leap to their feet and cry out that I had "attacked" and defamed the brother or sister who stood up to boldly lie.
I am not a participant in Pastor VanMeheren's situation and cannot judge the laymen's response, but the automatic assumption that the pastor is presenting perspective that does not comport with reality and that he is at least half of the problem is not necessarily justified, as many can tell from their own experiences.
We (conservatives and confessional pastors) tend to shoot our own and comfort the enemy reflexively. I know of situations where pastors have been driven out, and the congregation (the majority of it) accused the pastor of abandoning them because they were blissfully unaware of the attacks on the pastor or the controversies that had consumed their shepherd. Further, attempts to keep the congregation informed while the attacks proceed are decried as violations of the Eighth Commandment.
The topic of these sorts of dismissals needs to be talked about in our Synod, but when highly respected men do the cry of "It is never just the way the pastor describes it", and cows others into apologizing for even bringing the topic up, the needed discussions will never take place.
Let the churches beware: the Word of Jesus is, "He that hears you, hears Me and He that despises you, despises Me, and he that despises Me despises Him who sent Me." Let the leaders of the church bodies and districts remember that there is a God, and He is watching how they deal both with the people of God, and His called servants.