Top Ten Anziety Triggers

In my work with congregations, I have found ten recurring triggers of anxiety:

  1. Money. Follow the money trail, and I'll show you the anxiety.
  2. Sex and sexuality.
  3. Styles of worship.
  4. Old and new—old leadership/new leadership, old curriculum/new curriculum, old members/new members.
  5. Internal vs. external focus. Do we give more to foreign missions or to our own programs?
  6. Pastoral leadership style.
  7. Staff conflict.
  8. Growth and survival issues.
  9. Sudden death of a child. I've seen pastors lose children to sudden death, and all of a sudden the system is in an uproar against the pastor. Why? Because the pastor is functioning at a lower level, and the most dependent people in the system can't tolerate him or her functioning at that lower level. They poke and push to get the pastor to function at a higher level.
  10. Trauma or transition. For example, a pastor who retires after thirty-five years, a pastor who leaves because of sexual misconduct, or a town that loses a major employer.
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