pastors-leave-church

The majority of pastors move from one church to another as a sense of call. In some denominational bodies, pastors are appointed to move from church to church. Those departures are normative and, for the most part, healthy.

Unfortunately there are unhealthy reasons that cause a pastor to leave a church. The sad reality is that most of these reasons are preventable. In most cases something could be done to stop these presumably premature departures. I have taken the liberty to name the top eight negative reasons pastors leave a church. The research is more anecdotal, but the frequency with which I hear and deal with these issues makes me confident that this listing is mostly accurate. The reasons are obviously not mutually exclusive.

  1. Discouragement and frustration over critics in the church. Over thirty times this year pastors have contacted me to let me know they resigned from their church due to weariness over critics.
  2. Discouragement and frustration over the direction of the church. Most pastors come to a church with an eager vision and great hope. Many pastors leave a church when it becomes obvious to them that the hope will not be realized.
  3. Moral failure. The two most common moral failures are sexual and financial. In either case safeguards were typically not in place.
  4. Burnout. The flexibility of a pastor’s job can lead to one of two extremes: poor work ethic or workaholism. The latter inevitably leads to burnout.
  5. Forced termination other than moral failure. Just last night I heard about a pastor who was fired because the church members determined they needed better leadership. That reason is one among many I hear more and more often.
  6. Financial struggles. A number of churches do not take care of their pastors financially. Most are able to do so. A pastor who has to worry about paying his bills will not be an effective pastor.
  7. Family issues. Obviously the family issues could be related to any of the reasons noted here. But a number of pastors tell me they resigned simply because the entire church experience and atmosphere were unhealthy for their family.
  8. Departure of joy. Typically a pastor has great joy when he is called to ministry. That joy often continues during the time of training for ministry and entry into the first church. But a number of pastors for various reasons lose their joy in the real world of local church ministry.

I was tempted to list depression as a top reason a pastor leaves a church. But the often debilitating condition of depression is intertwined with any of the reasons noted above. Indeed it could be argued that many of the reasons above are interrelated.

What can we learn from these examples? First, we should pray for our pastors regularly. Second, we should seek ways to help prevent the reasons noted above. Third, we should be a friend and encourager to our pastors. They already have plenty of critics.

What would you add to my list?

Pastor to Pastor is the Saturday blog series at ThomRainer.com. Pastors and staff, if we can help in any way, contact Steve Drake, our director of pastoral relations, at Steve.Drake@LifeWay.com. We also welcome contacts from laypersons in churches asking questions about pastors, churches, or the pastor search process.

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Comments

  1. Steve Drake says

    Sometimes pastors leave churches who want them to stay, churches where there has been no moral failure, no poor leadership or any other issue on the list above. They leave because it was never in their plan to stay in the first place. The goal of a pastor like this is notoriety and influence. He is a hireling who does not love the sheep; he uses the sheep in one flock to impress others and be sought out to move upwardly. This is a slippery comment, because both pastors of good character and no character are called to large influential ministries. God does take shepherd boys and make them kings. The pastor of good character will know it is God who is doing the elevating and not his own prideful heart.

  2. S Files says

    Speaking personally for my family, let me comment that these are most likely the same reasons for most pastoral staff members and not just senior preaching pastors.

  3. Chris Cannon says

    I would add a lack of vision. Slightly different than not having a vision realized (#2). I think this is where George Barna got it right. Many pastors can teach, but don’t have vision and/leadership. The demands of the multi-site world and other tech advancements have also placed a significant burden on aging (over 50) pastors who can’t keep up with the cool kids. ie Twitter, Facebook. Finally, I think pace is catching up to the ministry. On both sides of the fence. Our youth group used to meet twice a week 20 years ago. That’s a thing of the past now. Kids and parents are too busy, forcing us to combine both evangelism and discipleship into one night. A tricky dance. Meanwhile, pastors are expected to do all they were doing 20 years ago, but now must blog weekly, tweet and stay current on Facebook. A different form of burnout. Thanks Thom and Steve.

  4. Ben says

    My biggest struggle as a pastor is with staff. I have five awesome staff members who are driven and have vision. I have two staff members that I inherited who were raised in our church. They are lazy and still want the church to be like it was 20 years ago. They constantly undermine me but they’ve been here forever and know they aren’t going to be fired. They have family members throughout the church. I’m tired of being dragged down by my own staff! Everything else about our church is great.

    • SZpf says

      You need to fire these two. Or at least one of them. These are “Pastor killers,” people who think that because of a> their large offerings or b> their history with the church, they can direct and order people and the church to do what they want them to do. Even if they leave, it is worth it for the stress reduction.

      This type of person is not interested in bringing people to God, or teaching people about the Gospel. They just want to be in charge. More churches are torn apart by them than most people realize.

  5. Tommy Kiker says

    Excellent post and a great list to keep in mind as we continue in ministry so that we make take preventative steps. I appreciate the way you share great practical posts!

  6. says

    Hi Thom,
    Before I make my comment, I just wanted to thank you for writing An Unexpected Journey. I really enjoyed reading it when I was getting my masters at Liberty. My daughter had to read a book and write a paper at her school for a Bible class. I recommended your book and she loves it. She’s 15. Thank you.

    I guess my thoughts combine a couple that you listed. I’m an ordained pastor, but I don’t have my own church (I have a speaking ministry), but I’ve been involved in church for a long time and I think one issue for pastors is the understanding of balance when it comes to casting vision and shepherding the needs of the church. This becomes a struggle when the congregation doesn’t seem to catch the vision of making more disciples and making better disciples. On the other hand the pastor often puts vision above the needs of the flock. This causes a two-way tension that is hard for some to overcome.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thank you Mike. You are kind to say those words about my book. And you are on target with your comments. I really appreciate your taking time to read my blog.

    • Steve Drake says

      Mike, I agree about “An Unexpected Journey.” It is so interesting to see God work in the hearts of people from other cultures.

  7. Pastor Zach Malott says

    Hi Thom,

    Looking back over my life and ministry, what was once cloudy and murky has become more clear.. 8 of the 10 points above have basically been reduced to two. Over the years, I have drilled down to bedrock in determining the two, root causes for my problems you mention above:

    1) Too much self will.

    2) not enough God’s will.

    Granted, it is very easy to wear “truth blinders” where confronting self is concerned; however, Christ’s example in the wilderness and that last night in the garden provides the spiritual GPS we needed to humbly confess, repent, and get back on track. Yes, rejection and criticism hurts. What is the remedy? Personally, for me, it is to keep on loving them. God is in control.

    At the expense of appearing naive, prayer and discipline – as a disciple of Christ – is a process rather than an event. Maturity in Christ is the goal for the Christian but that takes a learning journey. Looking back at where I came from on this journey, I can begin to conceptualize and to value the lessons that lie ahead.

    Conclusion

    What is the Christian calling?

    1) Live each day in and for Christ.

    2) Self search for self will being placed above God’s will.

    3) Pray for Holy Spirit guidance in all things.

    4) Die to self and allow God’s will to be done in your ministry and personal life.

    5) Remember “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.”

    6) Humbly accept roses when they come your way.

    7) Humbly rejoice when persecuted for Christ’s sake.

    Great leadership comes not from me but from Holy Spirit guidance and obedience. Of course, the day-to-day is difficult. That is why we were told to count the cost. Let us all pray for each other and persevere as we try to keep the eyes of our hearts fixed upon the One we follow and keep the donkey in front of the cart.

  8. pianomom says

    As a pastor’s wife, I can wholeheartedly agree with your article. It boils down to discouragement usually, because Satan gets a foot hold and people get cranky and picky and are not willing to learn to live together and come to mutual agreements. There is way too much selfishness amongst God’s people and way too much gossip and bickering! We have been blessed with a wonderful congregation who supports us well and we have a great leadership team, but we’ve had our share of tears and troubles, and people who have stabbed us in the back. We have a great many ministry friends who are not paid well, do not get spiritual and emotional support from their leadership teams, and become greatly discouraged. Many times Satan attacks their marriages also.
    PLEASE keep your pastors in your prayers and be supportive of them!!!! Pay them well and don’t fight over pennies. They need to pay their bills! Yes, some of them are not there for the right reasons, as stated above, but most of them truly love God and want to serve Him. Do everything you can to love them, show support and be a WORKING team member!!!

    • Oscar says

      You my dear sister are right. Pastor’s wives and family are probably the only ones that will get the point you make. And you too my sister suffer second only to your husband. I’m not sure which is more a bruised reed.

  9. Tyler says

    Hopefully a word of encouragement. Reading here brought so many passages to mind – possible uprooting of trees He hadn’t planted – the bridesmaids lacking oil(joy) for their journey’s end. But, what I can’t wrap around is how today’s Americanized society could possibly lend the degree of loyal support needed to sustain pastors. Third-world type societies must build a loyalty, often surrounding the basic necessities to sustain life. Their lack is to their gain. Conversely, our affluence mistakenly permits many to feel they can either do without others or resort to the fast-food shopping at multiple churches down the lane. This said, Pastor Zach is correct that God’s will shall be done & this literally necessitates the reality that forgiveness will be needed among people, by someone & for another.  And forgiveness must take place. These are the internal tests, refining fires that either galvanize a tree’s branches to bear much fruit (or even more fruit) or, as the fig tree found to be not in season, even Christ Himself withers it’s baron limbs to the trunks dismembered core. The Church must abide in Him, like a tree planted by the waters, ever nourishing and flourishing from His wellspring. And regardless of where the individual stems are wind-blown, the branches must stay attached to the Vine and should actually become strengthened by every to and fro. Keep communicating, God bless.

  10. Oscar says

    As a pastor who served three churches that fired the minister prior to me… one church that forced three staff to resign prior to serving them… and two churches that pressured me to resign… in my experience there were to main reasons (For my leaving). 1) I followed a 27 year pastor 8 months after he retired. I was 180 degrees from him in preaching style, ministry approach, and pastoral direction. 2) I went to a church that had been in decline for 20+ years and agreed to help the church leadership chart a change of direction for the future {Which three staff strongly disagreed with}.

    In both instances the staff voiced to the membership covertly (Until it was too late) things that were embellishments and un truths. When a pastor has only been in a church a year… and staff have been there 10, 20, and 25 years the congregation believes the ones they’ve known longer (Even when church opinion leaders strongly support the pastor).

    My choice (Right or wrong) was once I perceived that the church was getting so discombublated that disharmony was so extensive… I chose to leave rather than the church get a black(er) eye in the community and the name of Christ be defamed. If that meant I had to take a black eye, then so be it. I chose to turn the other cheek and trust my future in God’s had (Much like Abram with Lot).

    This I will say, why pastors leave churches (Whether for good or bad reasons) is so nuanced it is difficult to put into a post. Because of my experiences in what some call “Perpetually Conflicted” or dysfunctional, I have contemplated putting some of my thoughts to paper since my boys have been called to ministry.

    Thanks for your thoughts here.

  11. Chris says

    I was the pastor of a church for a little over three years. For a number of reasons I was pressured to resigned. Out of the reasons you give probably number five would be the closest fit. For the sake of my family and my sanity, I did resign. The “leaders” of the church, and I don’t mean the deacons, were unhappy with any change occurring within the church. There are many wonderful people there, but they bow to the control of a choice few. There are churches out there that want a preacher, not a pastor. This was my first pastorate, and this experience has hurt me and my family in a number of ways. My children are cold to church, my wife and I are hurt and angry that we sacrificed ourselves to work for the Lord and are left so empty. We are trying to heal, and I am praying about an evangelistic ministry to not only preach the gospel, but to also encourage pastors as there is so much need for this…
    God Bless Your Ministry

    • says

      Chris,
      I’m sorry to hear about your experience. After reading your post I thought of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (ESV)

      Often, God brings about ministry from our failures or bad experiences. You mentioned starting a ministry to encourage pastors – use this verse to encourage you in those steps and then read Proverbs 16:9. I run a Christian outdoor adventure ministry and we are running a pastors retreat. If you need ideas email me at mtison@seizetheadventure.com. God bless. (Sorry Thom, don’t mean to hijack your post.

  12. Chris says

    I am no longer a pastor. I served United Methodist churches in Virginia for 18 years until I had a series of panic attacks and had to leave the ministry. The reasons for the panic attacks were many, but the biggest thing at the heart of it was that I never felt wanted in the churches I served or in the Methodist Conference I belonged to. In 18 years (plus a fraction) I was serving in my tenth appointment, and the small-town church was 50 miles from my home. (The Conference knew I didn’t want to move because of my wife’s work, which though near our home is quite stressful.) In more than one of the locations where I served, I was told some variation of “we just don’t know how to get close to you,” :you seem distant,” or “we don’t think you do a good job connecting with us.” i was also told many more harsh things that were very hurtful, and my wife felt so hurt in the churches where we served that in the last appointment, she chose not to be there very much. with the weight of my commute, the time away from my family, and the small church that didn’t want to move forward to any new ministries, I slowly lost my emotional grip and had a series of severe panic attacks,
    i took a leave of absence and sought some counseling. i have learned that i have several Personality Disorders as well as PTSD, ADD, and I am bi-polar. In the two years since I have left the ministry, I have had four different professional counselors tell me they didn’t know how to help me. I have also not had one phone call or visit from anyone connected to my Conference for support, encouragement, or for my family. we have been abandoned.
    i can not find work, and I am not sure there is any form of work I would be able to do even if I was hired. I have no confidence, and from what the therapy professionals tell me, I can’t expect my ability to connect emotionally with others to improve without a lot of time and some very hard work. Yet, I can’t find a therapist who knows what work to do to help me, and I have no idea how to help myself. I grow more depressed and isolated. I have asked, begged, pleaded for help from my Conference and received nothing. I finally gave up my ordination status because it was just so hard to continue to deal with them.
    I don’t know how long I can go on. I don’t know where to look for help. I don’t have the money for therapy, and no one therapist seems to want to stay with me for the long haul anyway. I see nothing to give me hope that I can ever be better.
    I don’t know why I am writing this to you. I really just don’t have anyone to talk to. And I am slowly disappearing.

    • Ben says

      Chris,
      Don’t give up! I’ve felt that way, too but God’s grace is bigger than anything man can do to you. I know how it feels to be at the bottom of a dark hole and I know how it feels to be betrayed and abandoned. But I also know that God used that time in my life to show me HIM and His love. He taught me that Jesus wa treated the same way and he understands. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I went through it because God taught me a lot. It still hurts at times, but I know that these light and momentary troubles will soon be over but the joys to come will last forever. Don’t give up!! One more thing. It strengthened my marriage more than anything ever could. Lean on your wife. I will be praying for you because you are my brother in Christ.

    • says

      I’m not sure why this toughed at my heart..I have felt the hand of God on me. was in a Church for 6-7 years. I was doing relatively well, or so I thought. I left for family reasons and now it seems that i’m disconnected from everybody…I don’t believe this is of the Lord I feel satan has worked his way in. I fight it everyday by the power of the spirit. I see the Lord working. I just need to lean on him stronger…keep up with your prayers and cry out loud to the Lord. He comes through and he does have a plan for all of this…his word say’s don’t be surprised when we go through all kinds of trials like Paul and wonder why…it proves the genuiness of our faith…remember what God put his son through….all for the sake of Love..

    • Hank Shin says

      Chris
      I just read this. I hope you are well. If you are still hurting– let me know how I can help. //Many blessings, Hank

  13. Jon Smith says

    What would I add to the list? First, I agree with the reasons listed. No where did I see the reason for a pastor to leave was his/her own fault due to not listening to Gods voice. When we don’t listen to the voice of God it is negative for us, the staff we influence, and the church we lead. So, with that being said my addition would be “Pastors who ignore Gods voice and don’t leave in His timing leads to negative circumstances etc.” I want to be a Pastor that takes more ownership for the flock I have been given by God.

  14. Nancy Tofflemire says

    You men and women have served God and sometimes near a place to turn. You need people who are Godly and professionals who sensitive and familiar with your struggles who can help you walk through places of healing. One of my friends and her husband started a professional ministry that deals with pastors who have been hurt in the ministry. They are specifically dealing with initiatives that deal with forced clergy termination. Marcus’ doctoral dissertation is “Forced Termination Among Clergy: A Study of Experiences, Processes and Effects & Their Connection to Stress & Well-Being Outcomes”. His name is Dr. Marcus Tanner. His wife is Michelle Tanner. You can find them on facebook. “Healing Choice” is the name of their organization.

    Chris, know that you can seek healing. There are answers. There are safe people with which to speak with about your situation and the diagnoses that you have found yourself dealing with right now. Dealing with catastrophies in ministry in overwhelming. May God grant you peace in dealing with this horrible lot of emotional stress!

  15. Tanya says

    Hello,
    I have a question.
    My husband has a 7 member church, yep..7 people. All of which are our family members and they refuse to be obedient. We meet in a rental space and are obligated to pay an annual fee. However, they all do not tithe to the church ..they tip. When asked to participate in our outreach or other programs, they refuse. What happens when you have a disobedient church? Is it permissible for the Pastor to leave?

  16. Ed Jordan says

    Great article that none of us want to read, but are drawn to read it like moths to the light. Pastoring is one of the most painful experiences in life. I have done it now for @ 35 years. Working endless hours (workaholism can also be done out of love for Jesus, but one still burns out), for little pay and receiving unfounded criticism takes its toll. Living in a fishbowl with no life of your own is also difficult, as well as the unrealistic expectations off more bosses than church members.

    I think one other factor not fully addressed but hinted at in one of the comments, is the role of the American culture in modern ministry. The post-modern American culture is eating our lunch. What things in the culture make it harder now to pastor than 25 years ago? The following are some of them:
    * The culture is becoming anti-Christian rather than supportive of Christianity
    * Speed of change in culture … the rapidity of changes in cultural morals and innovations, coupled with the appetite for cutting edge “cool” technologies and media, make it impossible for both churches and pastoral leadership to keep up. Even in the most change-friendly church, by the time changes can be put into place they are already passing from the scene in effectiveness.
    * The appetite in people to be entertained. Entertainment based ministries, whether as seen in pastor’s sermons or music, or children’s programs, are a treadmill on which you must keep up with an ever-increasing pace just to run in place. Add to that, whenever people are attending because of the “wow” factor, each week the “wow” must outdo last week’s newest and most creative zap. People cannot maintain the creativity, performance, and cohesion needed to maintain church growth in such a scenario. Something eventually implodes, either the pastor, the leadership team, the church, or the attendees.
    * Doing more with less and receiving less and less appreciation and pay, which undermines one’s ability and desire to keep on keeping on. Donations are decreasing while demands and ministry costs are increasing.
    * The cultural changes regarding commitment. Christianity is all about consistent commitment, even when you get tired, bored, or must do something outside your comfort zone. I find less and less commitment in the younger generations towards organizations and committed relationships. Relationships needed for healthy church life can’t be done solely at the shallowness of relationships built on Facebook and tweeting. Younger generations are quick to commit for a short-term feel-good moment, but then are looking for a new “make me feel-good” one-time event. Too often modern Christians only make commitments when there are obvious selfish instant gratification benefits, whereas Christianity calls for longterm, selfless sacrifice, that may give no instant gradification.

    All of these and more make evidence of “success” or progress in ministry less and less evident. Most of us can keep going when we get a crumb here and there of positive reinforcement that we are making progress or having small successes here and there, but crumbless ministry can only be maintained from a deep, loving sacrificial love relationship with Christ. And when we are sifted as wheat, every one of us reaches the point way to frequently where we are tempted to say “enough already, I can’t do this anymore.”

    All of this to say, there are no easy solutions, and as the culture (including church attenders) move more and more away from accepting absolute truths and moral values , as well as cultural health care costs removing benefits such as health insurance from ministers pay packages, will only add fuel to the flames (working harder for even less pay and benefits … which translates into “the church not appreciating me enough to even provide basis needs for my family).

    Thanks for making this discussion possible. Pray for people in ministry. Instead of ministry getting better and better as we approach retirement, we are like the slaves in Egypt, being demanded to not only to increase production, but now to also go make our own bricks too.

  17. Danny Prater says

    Well, I have been privileged to serve as an ordained minister for 46 years. I have served as a Director of Mission, a staff member, and pastor. December 31, 2013 I am retiring (or at least slowing down) from a wonderful church where I have served for 32 1/2 years as pastor. There have been ups and downs, there have been times of stress, but there have been times of great joy and fulfillment. I have been blessed with deacons and a church family who have stood with me, who were honest when they needed to be, but together, congregation and pastor we have grown much in the Lord. I look forward to serving the Lord in the days ahead. Now why are we leaving? My prayer partner, my wife of 46 years, and I just asked the Lord, and He has lead us to know that just as he called us to this church 32 1/2 years ago, He is saying now is time for a change. My heart goes out to my church family, for our leaving will be more traumatic for them then for us. There are no living former pastors of this church which has a history of long pastorates. Learning to listen without taking it personally surely helps. Now as DOM I saw many a brother hurt by some hurtful churches and folks. I pray often for those churches that just plain have a mean streak. Well, I am looking forward to walking with God’s folks through the years ahead. To those of you who are hurting, may our Lord bless you richly.

  18. says

    I would add that many pastors get frustrated with church people in general. When I was serving at different times in full time and part time youth ministry, the biggest frustration I found is that when it comes time to make important decisions, especially in small churches, you will be shut down by this phrase, “I think we need to pray about this before we rush into a decision.” Any disagreement you express to this cop out is always met with accusations of arrogance and pushing your own agenda… instead of the Lord’s agenda. The worst part is this phrase is usually uttered by people who are drawn to small churches so they can be a “big fish in a little pond.”

    I would not even call these people “well intentioned…”

  19. says

    While I agree that there are many negative reasons why pastors leave, I think many pastors are too quick to “throw in the towel.” Pastors are not supposed to value popularity over following Jesus, and a strong need to please others can be a serious liability. Christian leaders need to be willing to speak the truth even when this is not what their people want to hear. What concerns me more than all the negative reasons pastors leave, is that some pastors do whatever it takes to stay – including compromising their “marching orders” from God. We need pastors who will lead like Jesus even when this means risking their jobs – or even risking their lives – for the sake of the Gospel! How many pastors would follow Jesus to the cross or face persecution to shepherd God’s people?

  20. Daniel Moore says

    Wow! I guess I got it all wrong. I have only pastored two churches in 20 years. The first for 2 1/2 years where I was basically an interim and now my present work. I have seen pastors come and go for a variety of reasons. I guess I have a different idea of pastoring or vision of pastoring. I see myself simply as a shepherd of the flock, a leader/member of a family, and the vision I have is simple – raising up disciples for Christ’s Kingdom sake. I have had my share of conflicts but I always approached them like a family member seeking to deal with the challenge biblically, in love, and not to lose anyone unless grave sin is involved. The older generation was stuck in the past and so new technology was a challenge. They retired their mimeograph machine when I retired to buy a copier (couldn’t find any supplies for the equipment). They finally got a computer a couple years later. I learned that church ministry is about building relationships and took a longer view of pastoring. I figured it would take about 20 years to really build this congregation. So when I see a fellow pastor leave a flock after 5 or 6 years I am saddened for the congregation. They were just getting to know the pastor and then he leaves…I guess my military background has some influence in my ministry – son of a career soldier and served myself for 20 years.

    • says

      There are a couple of things you mention here that help me understand why some pastors stay with churches and others leave. I can honestly say that I only know of one pastor that left his church for the reasons mentioned in this article.

      But, I don’t think it’s as simple as taking a long view of ministry and building relationships. Most church members are not in a given community long enough to develop long term relationships for the long-view of ministry.

      In my own experience growing up in church, the most ineffective pastors are the ones who do not understand that most people will only be in a given church for 3-5 years. When you take away the “church hoppers,” you are still left with the majority of people leaving due to family moves and job and career moves. If they are military, they may change duty stations every 2-3 years. Unfortunately, the average church discipleship strategy is tailored as if the average stay is 20-30 years… offering the “short-termer” no significant opportunity for growth.

      For many of the pastors I have known, they left because their church was unwilling to meet discipleship needs of short-termers. These include youth, college age, young adults, and military families. I may be wrong in my assessment, but the long-view approach seems to only meet the discipleship needs of adults with children planning to stay put for 15-20 years… and senior citizens.

      If you are near the California area or know which conferences you may attend, I’d love some feedback on this over coffee. I believe effective pastors are with their churches for 20+ years… but I only know of a small handful here in California effectively reaching rural communities.

  21. Will says

    Pastoring is challenging. I have been pastor for over 13 years. There are times when I want to give up and throw in the towel. But like Jeremiah there is a fire that burns within that encourages me to continue. I pray, study, and seek God often for divine wisdom to be a good servant. There have been times when my family was hurt and stressed, times when I felt like that my voice was not being heard, and ran-over because my humbleness is mistakened for weakness. I work 40 hours plus on public job which causes me to be distracted sometimes. I have bills to pay and a family to provide for. I know that I am blessed to be employed and I thank God for his blessings. I do alot of soul searching and self examination. As I pray I ask God to help me to a blessing to the flock that I serve and not hinderance. God bless. all pastors, ministers, evanglists,and servants of the Lord. Stay strong. Look to the Lord and pray that he will surround you with people that love and have concern for you.

  22. Rev. Ernest C. Long says

    What a pleasure and joy to read civility and manners in these posts. Good article. Look forward to your emails. Peace in Christ.

  23. Pastor David F. Bays says

    Bro. Thom I believe a very good reason why Pastor’s leave Churches is a lack of Obedience on the part of the members to be faithful in attending the Services and getting involved in God’s Work than just be a bench warmer.

    • says

      I have been reading these responses from pastors about why the leave they ministry with great sadness, but unfortunately I understand. Being only one of the “sheep” I hope my comments are acceptable. My attendance going to church is driven by the Bible; not to forsake gathering together as is my desire to serve in whatever capacity I can do. My blessings to serve my church include watching the back door and helping those who are frail or disabled get inside safely, being permitted to assist instructing our children in the Royal Ambassadors, once in awhile giving a little more to His work as my God has prospered me. I have treasured the time my friend and pastor has given to me in discipleship lessons and prayer, eating together, just spending some fun time with no intense conversation needed.
      My friend and mentor is leaving us shortly and I pray fro him and his family, wish him well and ask for his peace and happiness. I will miss him a lot. My pastor has been a gift given by God to all of us.

  24. Corrie says

    Also, I know personal that a church can deal with whether to get rid of a pastor or to keep him and hope that it is going to be for the will of God. The pastor having committed a big no-no and unsure if it is reason enough to terminate him. Sexual Sin.. Tough one. What should someone do if they have to decide whether the pastor stays or leaves? Please reply if you can help

    • David F. Bays says

      I personally know of Pastor who were terminated just because they were preaching the word with conviction. Sometimes in some Churches people don’t want the Word of God preached. They want those sweet, mellow sermons. There are times when a Pastor has to preach the whole council of God and not apologize for it. The greatest relationship in the world ought to be the relationship between the Pastor and His congregation. The longest pastorate I have pastored was 18 and 1/2 years in a Church in Alabama. I have always had a great working relationship with my deacons and people. The main thing is to keep everything on top of the table. Do not try to cover up something. It is a sad day in a lot of our Churches of the broken relationship between a Pastor and His people. As concerning sins of the flesh, if a Pastor is guilty of adultery then he needs to step down or the Church needs to terminate him. But the Church should do it in a loving manner and not in hatred. God bless you.

  25. Kevin Mitchell says

    I started pastoring at the age of 29 and served two chueches in the last 15 years. I’m still at the second church. I think until a person has actually served a congregation, they can not even start to comprehend the misery associated. I find it disheartening to watch people throw out some bible based prescription when they have not experienced first hand the practical and impratical realities of being a pastor. Starting from Seminary, many people are poorly prepared for what accompanies dealing with a local parish. This is only further convoluted by the pastors either being in the news for immorality or on television because they have a megachurch. God Bless anyone that enters the ministry with the earnest desire to serve God and people with their lives. The cost is so often underestimated; from poor salaries to no health care, pension, toll on marriage and children as well as the physical and pschological drain that the church so often fails to provide for the simple sanity of the “person” that has in many instances made sacrifices just to serve. For the folks that are quick to throw scriptural band aides of “denying self”, “pray more”, “get more holy” leave me futher disappointed with how clueless they are. We have to understand that pastors are people! Simply human beings that are subject to all of the same feelings and challenges as anyone else. Personally, I think the contruct of most churches leave the person attempting to lead in a position that is destined for the statistical outcomes we currently see associated with the pastorate. To every Pastor past and present pastor my heart goes out to you sincerely for your health, well-being, and that of your family as well. To every prospective pastor, I say, be WELL informed before you allow your zeal to allow you to find youself in a quandry that may take years or a lifetime to rectify the personal damage that can be done to you and those you love all in the name of “following the call”. Remember, there are many ways to serve God without the politics and polity that keeps most parishes from growing or being anything more than a local bpys and girls club!

  26. MJ says

    It is my opinion the denominational leaders and pastors themselves bear some of the responsibility for the epidemic of pastor forced terminations and young Christians’ reluctance to join the ministry, or even affiliate with organized religion.
    My father was terminated from a church because the former minister, who had gone into prison ministry, found it tough going. At a denominational meeting, a fellow minister suggested the former minister ‘stir up trouble’ for my father, which is exactly what he did.
    To make a long, very ugly story, short; the denominational leaders eventually got involved, deciding to terminate my father for no good reason, other than to ‘keep the peace’ so to speak. Well, of course the church split anyway and many lives were impacted in way you can only imagine.
    But my point is: The former minister and his friend, may have solved their immediate problem of employment. The denominational leaders may have put the issue ‘to bed'; but they set a very dangerous precedence for congregations ~ teaching them how treat ministers badly! Had they, and others, acted according to church law, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, this issue and respect for the church in general may well look quite differently today!
    Don’t ever forget that AS YOU ACT you are teaching others how to treat you, treat your beliefs, treat your fellow ministers and treat the church.
    I’ve always wondered about the ministers and denominational leaders involved: Did they really have a conviction for the Lord ~ a calling, did they really believe what is in the Bible, or was it all just business to them?

  27. greg bell says

    I have pastor my church for 13 years now and am looking for a secular job. My kids have abandoned the church as they became adults and I have fought a small group of power peddlers the entire time. I am tired of seeing my family treated as hired help and employees not to mention myself. I will never leave the ministry. I know more than ever that God has called me into the ministry and I will always serve Him in whatever capacity I am in. I love preaching and will continue to do so as the opportunity arrises. But I just can’t deal with this situation any longer.

    • says

      Greg,
      I’m sorry to hear that you have such a bad experience. I know being a pastor isn’t easy and many people in the name of Christ have done major damage to pastors, believers and our cause since the beginning of the Church. All I can say is that God loves you and He has a plan for your life. Continue to follow Him and commit with passion and he will give you rest when you need it and he will also show you new ministry opportunities that can be a both a blessing to you and your family and to the church or ministry in which you serve. Hang in there and be encouraged. (Prov. 16)

  28. Todd says

    What about when God says your work is done here. I am bi-vocational so it is easier for me to say this. I have been a Pastor for 13 years. I do get tired sometimes but quite often God just tells me no you can’t leave yet. I pray a little more and he says no. Then for whatever reason a peace comes and God says it is time.

  29. Sandy says

    Our church has a very different situation. Our Pastor of 3 years has changed. He becomes very angry at meetings, always has to be right, and wants to control every aspect of the church and it’s people. We no longer have harmony or unity especially in our meetings and he carries the subjects of discussion into the pulpit. He shows no love for his flock, only condemnation. His ministry has moved to the poor and social outcasts and insists upon our support of food pantries, which are costly and draining our church. He does not allow the Gospel to be mentioned to these people, as he believes we must befriend them first. His sermons are now full of social issues instead of the gospel. His style and temper have diminished our congregation greatly. We have begun the process to have him removed, but are finding it difficult as he denies the truth and indicates we will not succeed. Standing up to a Pastor is new to me and I feel guilty and unsure of myself (especially in God’s eyes), yet our church is falling apart and we just don’t know what else to do. Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Steve says

      Sandy,
      There are times we all get bent in a certain direction. It could be towards youth, old folks, athletes, etc. Instead of standing up to him as it were, consider coming along side of him. Tell him that you are trying to understand what he has in mind. Tell him you are concerned that so many don’t understand, and don’t “catch his vision”. I’m sure he’s trying to do the best with what he feel he has heard the calling to… but if you go in as an adversary, it can only make it worse. I would hope that he’d like help, and as such I would hope he would listen and at least consider your thoughts. He may not change his mind, and that’s fine. He is still the leader… see where God is leading him to.
      Pray for him, that he would follow God’s lead, and that other’s would too.
      For me, friendship evangelism happens on many levels and occasions. Perhaps he is trying to keep one or two individuals from doing their “thumping” and chase people away from the gospel, and everyone is subject to the same rules. (We do that a lot in America, 1 or 2 ruin it for everyone, no matter what group! Look at our system of laws!)
      Pray pray pray

  30. says

    I would not add a new one to this list. Just comment on Burnout. A few years ago, I was at the end of my rope. I was ready to leave my 18-year ministry and perhaps the ministry altogether. I am very thankful for a group of church leaders who recognized my struggle, offered me a 13-week sabbatical, loved and encouraged me when I could not understand why I felt like I did, and helped me to seek the help I needed to over come burn-out. I always said, “If a person is doing what God wants them to do where God wants them to do it, they will never burn out.” I humbly take that back and thank God of an understanding and caring church. I have been back at the same ministry now for 16 months. The passion is back, the energy is back and I pray now for more churches to understand the importance of Sabbaticals for their very tired ministers.

  31. Victoria says

    I was raised as a PK and although I’ve had a crisis of faith at one point because of an abusive childhood and hypocrites in the church, I have been a Christian for most of my life in spite of everything. I have pretty much seen it all. Church splits, good pastors, not so good pastors, etc. God doesn’t change but people do and boy have I seen the changes. I used to know some pastors who loved people and were good shepherds of their sheep. I used to see the gifts of the spirit practiced. I used to see the pastor at my door from time to time. I used to see witnessing teams go out and witness to sinners in their neighborhoods. I used to get an occasional phone call from the pastor or someone in the church. I used to feel loved, needed and important. I used to see pastors who were passionate and who were moved by the spirit in a mighty way. I used to see alter calls, the laying on of hands, miracles, etc. I used to see members who prayed at the alters until there was a breakthru. I used to see people wait on God. I used to see so much that I don’t see anymore. I’ve tried to find a church like I used to know but it’s just not the same. I’m not saying that there aren’t any sincere pastors left nor am I saying that there aren’t any christian pastors but I can see how lukewarm and complacent many of them have become. I remember one pastor who called me 2 years after I had quit the church to wish me a happy birthday and he wasn’t even aware that I had quit. The most recent pastor where I attended for many many years got to the point where I never heard from him on a personal level except for a letter he sent to us asking for more money. I could go on and on but I won’t. I am grieved but I figure it must be a sign of the last days church. I think if God calls you to be a pastor, he will equip you and you will be a people person who has a geniune love and concern for his flock and he won’t treat it like a vocation where his only job is to preach the sermon. He will not have a click and be so busy with outside interests that he has no time for his own people. Just a few thoughts on some of the many changes in the church. I hope that there is a revival in our hearts. I am praying that there is.

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