This blog and our podcast have been a blessing to me because of the readers and listeners. I learn so much from your comments on the site, on social media, and in emails. For example, hundreds of you have shared with us your decision-making process when you leave a church. Though there are many different reasons given, these pastors did share one reason much more frequently than any others:
The most common reason pastors leave a church is: from their perspective they have taken the church as far as they can.
But what does that mean? What are the specific areas where a pastor sees such limitations? I have asked that question on numbers of occasions. Here are the most common responses:
- “The church has grown as much it will under my leadership.” Commonly, a pastor will lead a church to some growth, but that growth stops after a season. Not understanding why the growth has stopped, the pastor concludes that it is a personal leadership problem.
- “I am just not a good fit for this church.” A recent example of which I am aware is where a pastor was significantly culturally different from the church he served as pastor. He deemed those cultural differences to mean he could not lead the church further.
- “I’m spending most of my time putting out fires.” In this example, conflict is the problem, and the pastor does not have the solution. Hence, the pastor concludes a departure is in order.
- “The church has grown too large for my leadership skills.” I have been surprised to hear from a number of pastors who think their respective churches outgrew them. One pastor, for example, was comfortable leading a church of 150 in attendance. But, four years later, the church had an attendance of 375. He did not think he could lead an organization of that size.
- “The church needs to relocate, and I’m not the person to lead them.” That same reason is often used when the church needs to build facilities or become a multi-site church.
Many times, pastors are sincere when they believe the church has outgrown them. But I also believe pastors and other staff can grow and learn. Not all of them need to conclude they can’t take the church further.
I am encouraged by how many pastors and staff persons have joined our Church Answers training and development. It is one way they are saying: “I can grow, and I want to grow.” For that reason, we will keep the subscription open a few more days.
Let me know what you think of this main reason pastors and church staff leave their church? Is it always legitimate? Are there more underlying and unspoken reasons? Let me hear from you.