Church Leadership
Deal-Breakers: 7 Ways God May Tell a Pastor to Leave a Church
Long-term pastorates are almost always good for the church and the pastor. But when these things happen, it's time to go.

I didn’t tell the church that, of course. That would have been hurtful and unloving. I haven’t told anyone that until now – at least not in writing.

Yes, we’re supposed to love one another as believers. But that doesn’t mean we’ll like everyone. And no, a pastor doesn’t have to like everyone in the church. But pastoring a church is hard enough when you do like everyone. It’s unbearable – and maybe impossible – if you can’t bring yourself to like the people you’re sacrificing so much for.

5. Your Leadership has Lost Its Moral Authority

We can lose our moral authority in many ways.

And it’s not always the pastor’s fault.

Pastoring isn’t about exerting your dominance. But once people have lost respect in your ability to lead, it’s virtually impossible to gain it back, and it’s time to go.

6. Your Gifts No Longer Match the Church’s Needs

Our leadership gifts have to match the leadership needs of a congregation. Sometimes the pastor/church relationships starts that way, but changes for a variety of factors.

Our leadership gifts have to match the leadership needs of a congregation.

As long as the church and pastor keep adapting together, they can weather almost any storm and stay together for a long, long time.

But if they stop matching up, even a dynamic, gifted pastor in a healthy, loving church can’t make it work.

We‘ve all seen too many examples of pastors that hung on long after they stopped being effective. Don’t let it happen to you. Or your church.

7. Your Ministry Was Scaffolding

Some pastorates are meant to be short-term. Like scaffolding on the outside of a building under construction, they provide support during critical times of startup or turnaround, then they move on to another task.

One of our pastorates was that. We took the church as far as we were capable of, then left it for others to build upon.

I have a friend who was scaffolding at a small church in a racially transitional community. The city, which had historically been mostly white and middle class (like him), had become mostly Filipino and working class. But the church stayed mostly white and was dying.

My friend pastored there long enough to help the congregation open its doors to the neighborhood. He mentored Filipino leaders. In a few years, the church became heavily Filipino. So he left it in the hands of the Filipino leadership. Today, it’s a thriving church that reflects the racial mix of the community.

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December 15, 2016 at 12:25 AM

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