Six Considerations Before You Fire Your Pastor This Christmas

Am I the Grinch trying to steal Christmas?

No way. Bah. Humbug.

I simply want to uncover a dark reality of which many church members have little knowledge: many pastors are being fired this Christmas season.

I know. I see it every year. I deal with it every year.

To be clear, I cannot be certain pastor terminations accelerate at Christmas. Perhaps the numbers seem high since the timing is so insidious. Regardless, these considerations apply regardless of the time of year.

  1. Many pastor firings occur because one or a few malcontents are spreading rumors. Please check the sources of these rumors. Please ask people other than the malcontents and bullies.
  2. A number of pastor firings occur due to underhanded actions by other staff. I know of one situation where the executive pastor did not like the leadership of the pastor, so he worked in darkness with the personnel committee to get the pastor fired. The personnel committee never asked for the pastor’s side of the conflict.
  3. Many pastors are fired without any explanation. I am surprised how often this reality transpires. Typically, the personnel committee or similar group tells the pastors they will not get a severance if they challenge them or question them.
  4. Very few pastors get adequate severance when they are fired. It typically takes several months for a pastor to find a job. Severance often runs out before then.
  5. Your church is labeled as a “preacher-eating” church. Your church’s reputation and witness are hurt in the community. You will wonder why other pastors decline to interview for the open position. They know. They’ve heard what you did.
  6. If you had been willing to be patient and Christ-like, pastors would likely seek another job without your firing them. If you let pastors know their job is in jeopardy and give them six to nine months to find another position, many will do so. Pastors can always find another church much easier if they have a church. And the church avoids the pain, conflict, and dirtied reputation that comes with firing a pastor.

So why did I write this article in the midst of the Christmas season? The answer is simple. I am working with three pastors who have been terminated almost identically as the points I noted above. I don’t want to rain on your Christmas parade, but these three families are already hurting deeply. I wanted you to hear the other side of the story.

Let me hear from you.

Posted on December 10, 2018

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • I think I can write a book about this from our short nine months in a church that claimed to be healthy and vibrant before my husband took the position. After a few months in ministry at the church, my husband dealt daily with a few people who made him miserable daily with constant threats and jokes about his ministry. My husband desired nothing more than to fulfill the Great Commission in that church, but the opposite is happening there with bitterness and divisiveness. Not only has this hurt my husband and me, but our children have also been greatly impacted and now find it hard to trust any “church.” My husband is out of a “job” and we are searching God’s will. Honestly, we are not sure we went to engage in full time vocational ministry again, as the pain we have experienced is awful, and we do not want our children to ever endure such treatment by a church again.

  • Incredibly true had this happen to me 5 years ago. They schemed and lied, right to my face. Or at least tried to, most couldn’t look me in the eye. Severance was good but didn’t last long enough. People don’t hire at Christmas time, and usually if they do, it’s not transition time. To make matters worse, my immigration was not finished, so I was not cleared to work anywhere else. And a day latter we found out we were pregnant with our 3rd kid, a pregnancy that was very violent, so my wife couldn’t work. It took us to Oct, to find a new church.

  • Chase O'Dell says on

    I was a pastor of small baptist church in rural Missouri. I have a wife and 5 kids and was fired last Christmas. All of these things happened minus the offering of warning. This is real, but I still have a testimony of God’s goodness to tell.

  • Thom…Thanks for posting this. I was fired at Christmas. And, I was “required” to not let anyone know until after the holidays because “we don’t want to ruin anyone’s Christmas.” It has been 11 years, and yet at this time of the year, I still feel its sting. God has healed us and preserved us in ministry. Keep up the good work, you are a blessing and help to so many. Blessings. Gary

1 3 4 5