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Something’s Wrong Somewhere…

Current studies indicate the average pastor stays at a church 22 months.

50% of pastor’s marriages will end in divorce.

Only 5% of those who enter the ministry will retire from it.

Dire figures that indicate something is tragically wrong somewhere.

If a church is burning through a minister every 2 or 3 years, or a pastor has to pack up and move to another church every 22 months… well, I’m reminded of the Tim Wilson song, “100 Things To Remember,” in which he says, “If you’ve been married 9 times, it might be you…”

I believe for any number of reasons a church can enter a death spiral – there’s an ugly situation or a separation, and the pastor leaves.  The whispers and questions result in a lesser quality of applicants for the open position. Let this happen a couple of times in a decade and the church becomes known as a “preacher eater.” By that time the only resumes they will get are from the very shallow end of the pool. And the cycle continues.

A pastor can also get enmeshed in a similar downward spiral – they leave a church under a cloud (their fault or others, doesn’t really matter) – and the next ministry is at a church that’s a teeny bit less healthy. As above, this happens a couple of times in a pastor’s career and the only positions left open to them are the largely hopeless ones.

When a church in the death spiral and a pastor in his own personal death spiral hook up, it can get incredibly ugly… There’s potential for it to become the sort of thing that makes people walk away not just from the church but also from their faith.

I realize this is too descriptive and not prescriptive at all, but I don’t think the answers will come easily or that there is any simple solution.

One thing has come to mind as I’ve thought about this today: The need to return to the relational, organic nature of the church.  When org charts and systems and CEO’s are the order of the day, we shouldn’t be surprised when an “employer/employee” mindset takes hold.

I wonder what you think…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
  1. April 29, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Awesome post, Scott – thank you! It reminded me of two books that have been extremely beneficial, especially as it relates to your final sentence:

    Empowered Church Leadership by Brian J. Dodd
    Escape from Church, Inc. by E. Glenn Wagner

    I Peter 5:1-4

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