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.
@FailingPastor

 

 

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?

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How Long Should Pastors Stay at Their Church?

Pastors need to teach that when life gets hard, faith overcomes.
This is best taught by taking a new church every four years.

Pastors need to teach that love is patient enduring service.
This is best taught by taking a new church every four years.
@FailingPastor

 

 

The average stay at a church for a senior pastor is about four years. Youth pastors last about three.

This constant leaving makes churches doubt pastors. Small churches feel like they are stepping stones to larger churches. No one takes the pastor seriously because they all know he’ll leave when greener pastures show up.

This constant leaving makes pastors impatient and covetous. If their church doesn’t meet their ideals, they leave. They are only truly invested if the church does what they want it to do.

Pastor turnover also undermines any teaching on reaping and sowing, patient endurance, perseverance, longsuffering, love, or any such topics. God will never leave you nor forsake you, but your pastor? He’ll be gone in about four years. Nice.

Practice what you preach, right?

Pastors have been dropping congregations so quickly Christians assume this is what pastors should do. Many people look at me weird when I tell them how long I’ve been at my church. “Can’t find another job, eh?”

I even have a family member who repeatedly says it’s not right for pastors to stay at one church their whole career. This is primarily because they had a bad experience with a pastor who was at their church, and still is, for a long time. If he would have left they could have stayed. So now all pastors should leave after a couple years.

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A Humorous Pastor Dealing with Humorless Christians

The typical Christians’ ability to get a joke is a good indicator why there are no jokes in the Bible.
@FailingPastor

 

 

One entertaining thing about doing an anonymous Christian humor account on Twitter is the number of people who take me seriously. A quick glance at my timeline would demonstrate to people that I’m just making dumb jokes and an occasional point.

Yet the number of people who feel a need to correct my terrible (supposed to be kind of funny) take on pastoring, church, and Christians is quite large.

But non-humorous Christians are not just on Twitter; they are everywhere Christians are. Routinely I make jokes in my sermons. Very few jokes get a response. Maybe I’m not that funny, or maybe they’re all sleeping.

Several times people have taken issue with my sermon jokes. I said “shut up” one time in a joking manner in one of my illustrations. A family expressed their displeasure with me using that phrase and left the church not long after.

I made a joke one time about my son doing some dumb thing and how I wanted to kill him. My larger point was about the Gospel. My son might do something so bad I’d feel like killing him, but never would I feel like killing my son for a sin some other person did. I thought it was an insightful point about the Gospel. I was later lectured about promoting child abuse. These people left the church not long after as well.

On and on it goes. People need to lighten up. Here are a few quotes from G. K. Chesterton on the issue of humor and Christianity.

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The Preacher’s Dilemma: How Much Me is too Much Me?

As a preacher, I’m a one hit wonder. Once I preach, people wonder what I meant and then one guy hits me.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Preaching is hard.

Preaching carries weight with it. It’s not like giving a speech in speech class. Souls are on the line. Heresy is around every verbal bend. You can destroy people’s souls by saying something the wrong way. Not to mention giving an account before God someday for how I represented Him and His word.

Besides personal accountability, you also want to be understood. There’s no point in talking if people have no idea what you said. Tons of books have been written about preaching and effective communication. But there are pitfalls here. Paul says not to use words of human wisdom and smooth talk. We’re not selling something. We bring words of eternal life.

Many pastors decide to be boring. If we’re boring enough then anyone who hears what we say is proof it was God at work.

Others try to be as persuasive as possible, using all manner of salesmanship and personability. By any means necessary, trick them into getting saved by your rhetorical mastery.

Some use humor and entertainment.

I’m a funny guy. No really, I’m serious, I’m funny.

I can do a standup routing every sermon. I have that ability. I’ve done it several times. It feels good and people do enjoy it and hear what I’m saying. But does it convey scriptural truth, or am I just entertaining? Do people go away rejoicing in the Lord or celebrating my comedic genius? Do they remember the Scripture or just my clever illustration?

Pastors have to wrestle with this tension.

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Hey Christians: No One Cares About Your Diet

All you healthy people that don’t use sugar: your homemade Christmas cookies are not as good as you think they are.
@FailingPastor

 

 

There is a segment of Christianity that is obsessed with diet. I’m not saying they are synonymous with the homeschoolers, but there is massive overlap. They are under the impression that we are justified by food alone. Sola Cibus. (I don’t know, I just looked up “What is the Latin word for food?” And cibus came up as the answer.)

Romans 14 and 15 tells us to please our neighbor and do things that edify them. Don’t force your weird scruples on people if it causes problems. I feel that diet evangelists need a refresher course on this passage.

At every casual gathering of Christians there is food. The lady who has to bring her health food along with recipes and detailed reasons why her treats are better than anything else anyone else brought are in violation of brotherly love. They just are.

Furthermore, your food sucks.

No one likes it.

There’s a reason why people like salt and sugar: because food with salt and sugar tastes better. Throw in some butter too, maybe just lard.

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Justifying Boring Sermons

I preach boring sermons to weed out the pretenders and scare off the entertain-me-now crowd. And also because I’m boring.
@FailingPastor

 

 

I really am a failure at being a pastor. The results are in: I suck at this.

When I examine how I do my job and the pathetic results I’m getting, defensiveness enters the picture. Maybe I’m not that bad. Maybe it’s this church and these people. Maybe it’s the society we live in. Maybe it’s our location and how our church is set up.

I can find spiritual sounding reasons why I get the results I get: My sermons are tough, they are in-depth. I’m probably too spiritual for most people. People can’t handle the sound doctrine I drop on them every week. They can’t bear up. It just means I’m preaching the offense of the cross and confronting sin. People hate the light! I must be throwing lots of light out there, because people sure seem to hate what I’m doing.

I will give some benefit of the doubt that this could be part of the problem. I do think I preach the cross and confront sin. I know a number of people who blatantly told me that’s why they left.

Preaching in-depth, doctrinally sound sermons is a good way to weed out pretenders, people who are there for other reasons. If our churches are massively entertaining, you don’t have any idea why people are there. At least if your church is boring, you know they’re not there for enjoyment!

I know, that’s a sick twisted way to think, but alas, it’s quite true! It’s along the lines of persecution. Persecution is a really good way to find out who is legitimate with their faith and who is playing games. Boring sermons are a safer form of persecution, and creates the same results!

But I know this isn’t the whole story.

It might just be that I suck and my sermons are boring.

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How to be a Pastor at a Potluck

Pastor Potluck Rules: go last in line, take most of what people took least, and sit with people no one else sits with.
@FailingPastor

 

 

My dad was a pastor and I learned these rules from him. He never told me these rules; he just did them. I was routinely amazed at his ability to be last in line. As a kid, I was top ten every single time! How can you not want to get in line for food?

Then, the stuff he took! Man, I stocked up on desserts and jello salad and cheesy casseroles. My dad would take all the gross stuff. He did that because he knew people would be offended if no one took their food. If it was particularly ignored food, he’d make sure to thank them for bringing it and tell them how much he really liked squid. I kid you not. One time we had a missions potluck and someone made squid. He and a junior high boy ate it.

My dad was a friendly guy and people liked talking to him. He had people in church who were his friends and he’d more than likely enjoy sitting with them and yucking it up. Instead he’d sit with that one family who was a little annoying and difficult to talk to. He’d sit with the old people who could hardly hear. He’d never take much food and he’d eat it quickly so he could make the rounds and sit with people who no one else was by.

My dad was a true servant. He always looked out for other people. Part of this was his inherent nature. That’s who he was. Part of it was actually pride on his part. He was a people-pleaser to the extreme. He pleased people so much he did not get much enjoyment out of life.

But he was still right in much of how he did his pastoral ministry. His potluck etiquette was impeccable.

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