Why Declining Churches Often Run Off Pastors

Episode #057
September 6, 2018
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Some churches have a habit of running pastors off. Some pastors have a habit of leaving too soon. Today, we tackle the former issue and discuss why some churches continually run off pastors.

Today’s Listener Question:


The church I pastor has been approached by a struggling church in town about a merger. In their own words, they are an “out-dated and ineffective ministry that is operated by the same 6 families that have been doing it for 40 years and who have effectively run off every pastor that has questioned the way they do things.” I’m hesitant to commit our church to anything right now, but why would a church operate that way? And is there any hope for us to succeed in this merger/acquisition?

Episode Highlights:

  • Some churches shouldn’t be asking “How can we find a new pastor?” but “What might we be doing to run off the pastor we have?” instead.
  • At a church, the most natural object of frustration for the church members will be the pastor. For the pastor, it is often the church members.
  • “That’s what we pay the pastor to do” is not the attitude of a healthy church member.
  • Pastors, stick around through the tough times, things should eventually improve.

The five reasons churches run off pastors are:

  1. The pastor was not the magic bullet.
  2. The pastor becomes the object of frustration.
  3. The pastor burns out.
  4. Decline often leads to blame and conflict.
  5. The pastor’s family becomes discouraged and withdraws.

Resources mentioned in this episode include:

Revitalize & Replant is sponsored by the North American Mission Board and ChurchReplanters.com. More than 10% of churches in North America are at risk of closing and the North American Mission Board is committed to reversing this trend by decreasing the death rate of existing churches while simultaneously increasing the birth rate of new churches. To learn more about what it means to become a replanting pastor or to explore resources for replanting and revitalization in your own church, visit ChurchReplanters.com.

Submit Your Question:

Do you have a question about church revitalization or replanting for us to use on the podcast? Visit the podcast page to submit your question. If we use it on the show, you’ll get a copy of Autopsy of a Deceased Church and Reclaiming Glory.