He was ordained as a minister at Wedgwood Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas in 1983 and served as their minister of childhood education and business administrator. In 1986 he became an associate pastor of education and family development at First Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas.
Shahan moved to Birmingham in 1989 and served as associate pastor for childhood education and family growth at Shades Mountain Baptist Church for 10 years. From 1999 to 2006 he was associate pastor for education and administration at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shahan returned to Birmingham in 2009 to serve on the staff of First Baptist Church. He resigned at the end of 2013.
Shahan has also worked as an educator and author and publisher of curriculum materials for church programs. He founded the internet publishing firm One Vine, Inc. in 2003 and ran it through 2010. He also worked for Kimble Knight Ministries in Brentwood, Tennessee from 2007 to 2009. Shahan taught as an adjunct professor at Gardner-Webb University's White School of Divinity in Boiling Springs, North Carolina in 2004-2005, and has planned events and travel programs for the Franklin Classical School in Tennessee since 2007. In the 2012-13 academic year, Shahan taught at the Bible Institute in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
In July 2013 Shahan's wife, Karen was found murdered in their home on Hugh Circle. Murder charges were filed against Shahan on December 31, and he was arrested as a "fugitive from justice" when he attempted to board a flight from Nashville, Tennessee to Frankfurt, Germany on January 1, 2014 with $27,000 in currency. In a bond hearing before Judge Sheldon Watkins, prosecutors divulged evidence that Shahan intended to move to the United Kingdom and to marry a boyfriend. His attorneys argued that he was leaving for a previously-announced three-year mission trip to Germany. In a later filing, e-mail evidence indicated that Karen Shahan had learned of her husband's affairs with two men and that Richard Shahan was waiting impatiently for his wife to die from diabetes so that he could pursue another relationship.
Shahan has two grown sons.
- Robinson, Carol (August 8, 2013) "The Rev. Richard Shahan jailed in Homewood in connection with wife's July 23 slaying; not charged." The Birmingham News
- Stein, Kelsey (January 2, 2014) "Homewood pastor whose wife was slain in July arrested in Nashville while trying to board plane to Germany." The Birmingham News
- Stein, Kelsey (January 16, 2014) "Pastor charged in wife's murder was headed to Europe to marry boyfriend, prosecutor says." The Birmingham News
- Stein, Kelsey (May 7, 2015) "Homewood pastor's wife cited husband's affairs with men in email before she died, prosecutors say." The Birmingham News