We do not usually take Thom Rainer very seriously but when he published the following article on the Christian Post website we did sit up and take notice
Having completed a long session last night with a missionary, a Pastor and their wives over one of the issues they face at that church, we would like to address these 6 points:
Nearly half (48%) of those who left the pastorate said the search committee did not accurately represent the church. I have heard this information anecdotally, but I did not expect the response to be this high.
I do not know of very many people who represent themselves, their businesses, their churches 100% accurately. What people think about their church and how it actually is can be two vastly different things but it i snot enough of a reason to leave the pastorate or church. If anything God has let the pastor know one of the problems that needs to be cleared up in that church. Misrepresentation is not a Christian characteristic and for the church to be more effective for God, even this problem needs to be addressed and changed.
I point you to the sin of Achan in Johsua 7 “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things ; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’S anger burned against Israel”
Even the littlest of sins can hurt a church and it is the Pastor’s job to roll up his sleeve and deal with these problems. Not use them as excuses to move on to some other position.
More than half (54%) of the respondents said a church member had attacked them personally. Consequently, one of four said they left the church because of conflict.
My internship pastor told me ‘not to wear my heart on my sleeve’. In other words, you are going to get people who will attack or criticize you, you just do not let your emotions dictate your job or how well you do it. Moses was attacked on different occasions, betrayed by his own brother and faced other difficulties, yet did God remove him from leadership? No. he punished those who attacked the leadership.
If you are doing what God wants, teaching the truth correctly, overseeing the church as he wants then what other people say does not matter. God is not going to listen to them and hold you in account for their sinful actions nor is he going to think less of you. The only person’s opinion that should matter is God’s. The pastor works for him and if he is obeying God then what the people think is moot. God is the one who is going to reward the pastor and no where in the Bible does his rewards depend upon if the pastor has been criticized or not.
The key for the pastor is to make sure he is following what God wants him to do and preach.
Nearly half (48%) of the former pastors said they had not been trained for relational and leadership issues. We hear this from current pastors and staff as well.
So? This is blaming others for not taking responsibility to strengthen your weaknesses. If a pastor feels weak in one area of ministry or another then he needs to find the right books, the right information or the right teacher to help him broaden himself and be prepared. Bible schools cannot teach everything and there is no law stating that pastors cannot get more education from other true christian sources to help them in their ministry.
The person studying for the ministry should already have an idea of what is involved in his future work thus he should take the steps he needs to in order to learn what he can before entering the ministry. Putting the blame on others is not good relational or leadership skills. A lot of what a pastor learns comes from on the job training. It is not wrong to make mistakes but it is wrong not to learn from them the lessons God wants you to learn.
A pastor should not beat himself up because he is not fully prepared for a given situation, he needs to use those situations to learn how to handle them in the future. Or he needs to use them to discover something about himself and the steps he needs to take to rectify that problem.
Four in ten of those who left the pastorate said they had a change in calling. We hope to delve into this issue later.
There is nothing wrong with this. Callings do change or maybe a pastor realizes he did not hear God’s call correctly. It is not a sin to have a change of calling. I know mine has changed from my undergrad days and I am happy for that change. What I do now is work with pastors, church leaders and missionaries providing them the support and information they need to help their faith and ministries before it is too late. We also publish Feeding the Flock magazine.
If you know of hurting or pastors in need give them our contact information (www.feedingflock.com— e-mail addresses are there) and have them write us. We provide seminars, counseling and other services to help the pastor , etc., continue in their work. Pastors and other church leaders do need help and most of the time they cannot go to the people in their church or district.
One in eight of the former pastors left for financial reasons. Many pastors are underpaid. Many pastors leave the pastorate as a consequence.
This is understandable. We know this ourselves and it is a difficult problem to overcome because you cannot force people to pay you more, tithe more or give you money. The Philippine pastors also experience this and they often take second jobs to make ends meet. Western pastors may have to consider this option while still working in the their churches.
This problem is not the pastor’s fault but signifies a problem in the church and their attitude about christian ministry. Too many people think that a pastor or some other church worker should be doing it all for free or for heavenly rewards but that is unrealistic and selfish. The pastor has bills to pay, food to buy and other earthly needs to meet and it is wrong of the church to make their pastor work for slave wages or demand that his wife work unofficially for free.
This underpaying problem is not a biblical attitude to have and there is no bible verse stating that pastors, etc., do not get paid for their services. They say that Christians are the worst people to work for and I am sure there is a large group of pastors and church workers who can say that comment is true. This does not mean we over pay people but we make sure they are paid enough so that they are not tempted to sin or be forced from serving God.
One in eight of the respondents left because of family issues. Again, we have covered this issue several times at the blog and on the podcast.
Again this is understandable. The decision to leave the pastorate for this reason is between the pastor and God. It also depends upon the problem and its severity or lack thereof. Some pastors should not leave but the choice is ultimately up to them, the leaving pastor has to give an account for his decision not the church.
People leave the pastorate for many reasons and it should not be turned into a statistical situation for statistics distort the issue, the human feelings involved, the mitigating factors influencing their decisions and so on. We do not view the pastor any lesser because he feels he cannot continue in the professional ministry. His gifts, knowledge, and filling of the Spirit do not change. They and the church should make every effort to make sure his departure is for the right reasons though and if the reason is underpayment then a raise should be given, and the church needs to re-evaluate its priorities and motivations,
If the church loves money too much then we know where the source of the problem lies and how to deal with it. If the church wants to hang onto pet projects instead of paying their pastor a living wage then we know again where the problem lies and how to deal with it. Whatever the reason a pastor leaves the pastorate, except if they have strayed from the truth and accepted and teach false ideologies or they have begun to practice sin, we should handle this problem better and solve the issues honestly, fairly and even humbly, apologizing if it is the church’s fault.
We do not get brownie points in heaven for mistreating a pastor, lying to them, making them work for a pauper’s wage and so on. Until we know otherwise, they are the Lord’s anointed and appointed and we need to make sure they are given what they are deserving, though if they sin we can still call their actions and words into account. They are not untouchable but they are deserving of the right treatment until they truly falter. Then we use the Bible correctly to pick them up or show them the door if they do not repent.
We do not assume we have the right way to handle a problem, we go to God first and make sure we are following his leading so that evil cannot use the trouble to oust a good pastor or ruin a church.
The pastorate needs to be protected by the people of God and they got to do it the right way, (God’s way) not their own personal way