Friday, March 20, 2009

Why do people leave?

I know that it is fairly common for people to leave their churches. Sometimes it is for a really good reason, but usually not. I wonder more about why do pastors leave churches? I was reading this week of a pastor who left one really large church to go pastor another one just a bit larger (and in a nicer town). I'm not condemning him at all, but I wonder why. I know "God called him" but why?

I was listening to a leadership talk by a pastor of a mega church and he was explaining that most of the staff that he's had at the church through the years were just there for a season. Most moved on after a few years or maybe a decade.

I can't help but think, even though I'd love to be wrong, that it is usually just moving for bigger or better or more money. I don't hear of many who go to smaller or worse or less money, other than church planters. Is this corporate America or the church? Why not try to make the church where we are bigger and better and just forget about the money part? That sounds like the bigger challenge.

If we tell our congregation that God has put us into a family, shouldn't we view ourselves as part of it? Maybe that's why so many staff positions turn over in churches. Maybe that staff that God has put together at The Pursuit really is unique. We see our staff as a family. We hang out after hours. We try to vacation together. As I shared my thoughts on this with the staff this week, all of us agreed, as far as it depends on us, we want to stay together. If we keep trusting God and passionately pursuing the people He cares about, maybe He'll let us!


  1. Hey Paul, coming from a denominational background, the reason for pastorial change is more like changing of a teacher, then of leadership. After a few years, there is often times changes so that the congregation will get a mixture of knowledge from the, this isns't always true, my next to last pastor was with us for 25 years, until he answered the call to the mission field. He was an exception, rather than the rule. Outside of the denominational structure, I believe it is different. I've been a participant of "Harvest Fellowship" in Riverside California for years, watching his services through the internet. It would be tough for him to leave without there being a major change of ministry in the church. It is set-up so much around Pastor Laurie....but it could be done. I'm not aware of any of my pastors going on to bigger and better churches, just different churches......

  2. Paul,

    Your observation is certainy true in my neck of the woods. Church becomes a machine in most large churches, and the 'up-and-comers' are trying to act, program and prepare to be like their larger siblings. It is disappointing. Churches see staff as tools to improve the machine, which in turn improves the product. The consumerism here in the "Belt" tends to fuel this attrition. We copy what churches do, rather than listen to how they think... it is usually here that unique and purposed churches set themselves apart. Andy Stanley covered this at a Catalyst event I attended recently.

    It has been 10 years here at my church, and I can honestly say that our staff appears to celebrate the same level of intimacy as your staff does. That has me worried a little as God moves on to that next place of ministry. We aren't just leaving cohorts, we are leaving behind friends, brothers, and people we have fought with in battle over those most important (and a few least important) matters! They are our family.

    We trust that God will place in a location that will allow us to celebrate a similar environment, or in the very least a place where we can help craft that sort of staff dynamic.