The Top Four Reasons Pastors Leave Their Church

Hey pastors:

That new church you’re taking that looks so perfect?
Some pastor just left that church looking for a perfect church.



By the time I put in 15 years at my church, a guy I graduated with was on his fourth church. He couldn’t find a place that felt right. So he kept looking. He’s now at a church for an extended length of time and feels he has “found his church home.”

That’s good. I am happy for him.

From an outsider’s cynical view, finding his “church home” looks an awful lot like, “I found the place that pays me the most I’ve ever gotten for doing this gig!”

Now, again, I’m a terrible person and I am not the judge. I’m just saying what it looks like.

Did it ever dawn on anyone that maybe one of the reasons there are so many terrible churches is because no pastor will stay long enough to help them repair? Most churches have never seen selfless service in person. Many pastors are in it for themselves, not for the benefit of the church (Romans 16:17-18).

I know a lot of pastors and I listen to their words. They tell me why they are leaving their church.

We need to get more families/young people/old people/men/women but no one is willing to do what’s needed to get them to come.
— I hear this one a lot. There’s a certain market the pastor wants to attract for some unknown reason, and yet no one else in the church seems particularly concerned about getting that desired market. So the pastor leaves because the church won’t get him his audience he prefers. Why not just minister to the people who are there instead of firing and replacing the entire congregation?

I don’t get enough pay/benefits/days off, etc.
–You should just get out of the ministry then. This isn’t a business. You don’t consider a church based on the benefits package. This is where the American church has completely lost grip of New Testament Christianity. Our churches are businesses who hire like businesses. Pastors want to feel like big important people. This is destroying the church.

I’m not at peace/happy/fulfilled here.
–Did Jesus seem at peace with His ministry? The man of sorrows, acquainted with grief who sweated blood? If you are comfortable at your church, if you always feel great, your ego is stoked, you get your way, and everything is just the most wonderfullest ever, I guarantee you’re not doing it right. Being a living sacrifice isn’t going to feel good. Being a pastor isn’t about what the church does for you, but rather about you doing all you can to help people grow in Christ.

God has called me to a new ministry.
–It’s possible, but wow I’ve heard this one a lot from pastors who go on to hate their next church more than the one they were at. I think Christians blame an awful lot of stupid decisions on God.

People do things out of selfishness. Pastors are human. Yeah, I’d like a better church. I’d like a new life and a new routine. I’d like to feel more valued and respected. Anytime I preach at another church I get that buzz and people always like my preaching. “Maybe there is a place out there that will make me feel good about myself” I think. Maybe I should test the waters.

I’m painting with a broad brush, but I think most pastors look for new churches simply out of ego, pride, and other things that have nothing to do with ministry. Let’s not forget that the word “ministry” means “service.” You are enslaving yourself to people. This isn’t about you moving up in the world; this is about helping others grow in Christ.

This is tough, agonizing, and depressing work. The reward, we are told, will be when we stand before the Lord. Did we build well on the foundation? The reward is in the next life, not this one. Too many pastors are looking for their reward here based on the judgment of other people. We flit around until we find the group that will reward as appropriately, which is like, never, so we keep flitting.

Stop it. Give your life to a group of people and let the Lord sort it out.


But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
–2 Timothy 3:10-11

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s