SIgns You May Not Last Long

6 Feb

The average tenure of a pastor isn’t anything to brag about. It’s a little scary, actually. So I have put together some warning signs that you may want to watch for. If any of these are true of you, don’t throw your boxes away just yet. You may need them again real soon..

1. They give you the keys to the buildings…and the lawnmower. I’ve mowed a lot of grass for the church. Nothing wrong with that. But if a church expects the pastor to do such jobs it could make for a tough ride.

2. You find out the new & exciting church the previous pastor was “called to” is the one you just left. Everything looks good when your present circumstances are horrible. Trials have a way of blurring our vision. My advice is, if possible, never make a major decision in the midst of a trial. And in most instances it is a MUST to speak with the previous pastor about the church.

3. The pianist has a spittoon. This can’t be a good sign. I didn’t make this one up either. It is a reality. Leadership must understand they will have to make adjustments to keep from casting stumbling blocks before others. If they are not willing to do this, it will be tough to lead.

4. There are two deacons meetings each month. You are invited to one. There is no place in ministry for a dictatorship. But the pastor must be involved in the leadership of the church. Regularly scheduled meetings of the leadership that do not include the pastor are a sign of a spiritually sick church.

5. You recognize all of your deacons have the same last name. Never a good idea. Especially in a smaller church. Allegiance is too often with family rather than with Scripture.

6. The church has had five pastors in seven years, but the same worship leader for ten. Watch out for staff that seem to always go unscathed while other staff are given the boot. Not the case always, but sometimes they are the source of the problem.

7. You look out the window & the deacons are marching around the pastorium carrying shofars. I envy churches that are elder led. But the fact is in my denomination most are deacon led. If the deacons are against you, it’s tough.

8. Your leadership meetings always end with “Let’s ask the deacons first.” If approval for everything is contingent upon the deacons you could be in trouble. If you have good and godly deacons that may not be the case. But too often deacons are where they are because they are “good” and not necessarily “godly”.

9. You get a list of “expectations” and preaching isn’t one of them. Churches normally come up with their own expectations for a pastor. And sadly, those expectations often do not originate with the Word of God. As a pastor you will recognize that your most important job is preaching/teaching the Word. If the church does not see that, it  could cause serious tension.

Remember “It’s better to want what you don’t have than have what you don’t want!” Don’t be so quick to go to a new church. Check it out first. Take your time. Ask tough questions. You will never experience the fruitfulness that longevity brings bouncing from church to church.

13 Responses to “SIgns You May Not Last Long”

  1. jen February 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    One of my cardinal rules is to beware those who meet the train at the station.

    The other one is to listen carefully to how people talk about their previous pastor and the leadership of their denomination. (If you’re being called as an associate, listen to how the pastor describes their leadership.) If the talk is vitriolic, run as fast as you can away from the church.

  2. Eric Douglas February 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    I’m glad you’re blogging. Your writings connect with so many of us pastors by spreading humor on the things we face (and from OUR perspective!).

  3. cminglynormal February 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    Spittoon at the piano where are you preaching? The OK Corral!! lol

  4. Chuck February 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Great post! I am 38 years old and in my first role as pastor. I have been a full time Assoc/Youth Pastor for 5 years and a failed church planter. I love the church I am serving in, but have been in churches like what you describe. I do have a question though. Could you clarify your statement in number 3. “Leadership must understand they will have to make adjustments to keep from casting stumbling blocks before others. If they are not willing to do this, it will be tough to lead.” I’m not looking for an argument, I truly don’t quite understand what your saying. Can you give an example of adjustments, or is not confronting the pianist about her spittoon the example of an adjustment?

    • unappreciatedpastor February 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      Hey man. the point is that as leaders we will sometimes have to make adjustments in our lives in order to minister to a particular culture/group. For instance, I used to have the Georgia state flag (when it contained the confederate flag) on the front of my truck. I had an African American guy tell me that it really offended him. I explained that it was just the Georgia state flag. it didn’t matter to him. It was offensive. So right there in the parking lot I took the flag off and threw it away. the “spittoon” reference is a real situation. Not at a church I served but in a community i served. Lots of folks from that church were offended at it and spoke to me and others in the community. It became a point of contention and frankly was causing people to laugh at the church. The pianist should have simply quit chewing tobacco while at church. It was a distraction. If leadership is not willing to make sacrifices in their own life it says a lot about them. Hope this clarifies it for you. Thanks for reading! I hope you do well at your new church. Congrats!

      • Chuck February 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

        Got it! Thanks for the clarification. I love your tweets, great to see you have a blog. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  5. VJ September 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    One I would add-if your church is run by “committees” and those committees do not answer to the pastor, then run! Both of my brother-in-laws are pastors and one told me how the personel committee promoted a part time associate staff to full time without the senior pastors knowledge!

  6. jeff September 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    There is great benefit to staying in a church for the long haul. More pastors should quit hopping around and stay put. The test of time will show you that your successes really aren’t and your failures really are. Nothing more humbling than staying put, not running to the next green pasture, and slogging it out actually having to rely on faith and the Holy Spirit.

    • Pastor Scott September 8, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      I had been a pastor at a church sixteen years, the dynamics changed and with in a year I was gone. I had to take some time to process the hurt and wounds by a group of friends who like Absolom, stole hearts and I was gone. I do not think true pastors hop around, hireling maybe, but if the sheep don’t want a shepherd, what does one do? and a false humility of slogging it out will not only empower those who abuse ministers, but also grieve the Holy Spirit. I would argue more people run from pasture to pasture then pastors ever have! My 2 cents

    • cold feet for another January 3, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      Sometimes its impossible to stay put. I wish there was a green pasture to run to.

  7. cold feet for another January 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    I am a Baptist Pastor’s wife, and I am so glad I found this on FB. Everything I have read has actually happened to us at one time or other. I am so glad to know that we are not alone. My husband and I would love nothing more than to find a church that we could stay at for many years to come, but it never works out that way. The last two churches that we have served in have been nightmares. We have had spineless Deacons who would not stand up to the trouble makers who wanted to run the church. Then we have had deacons that said it was their job to tell the pastor what to do but said they were not like that when we took the church. The whole church showered us with love for the first six months. THEN the honey moon was over. We have been through so much hurt in the last two years and we tried to stand and fight against satan’s attacks but to no avail. My husband was ask to resign a week before Christmas with no warning and no severance pay at all. WOW! These people are Christians? REALLY? Signed: VERY GUN-SHY

  8. cold feet January 6, 2014 at 12:41 am #

    cold feet pastor’s wife
    You know, my spirit is broken right now. Don’t get me wrong, I have faith that God is going to use us again somewhere else but for right now, today, I am broken over what this last church has done to us.
    I ask a co-worker this question this week: Why does God let Satan do things like this in his churches? Why does Satan win. She said ” you know the answer to that. In the last days there will come a great falling away and people will wax colder and colder and that means in the churches, This reminds me of a song sung by Gordon Mote that goes like this:
    The Devil laughed and said I’ve won. God has lost his only Son. The brightest star no longer shines. Finally this world is mine. then he gathered all his demons near, he said we have conquered love with fear.
    Meanwhile back at the cross, all is not lost, forgiveness is bought with each drop of his blood, that falls to the ground, mercy abounds as mother Mary’s tears fall down to see her precious son pay the cost……
    The devil said we’ll use their pride. we’ll attack them from inside. We’ll fill their hearts with vanity, till their differences is all they see. Black and white rich and poor to justify their Holy war.
    Take a look around turn on the evening news, the devil says no way I’m gonna loose. Hate is everywhere Love can’t be found, It took me 2 thousand years but its almost over

    The old Devil is suppose to know the Bible. Did he not read the ending? Just saying!


  1. The Seven 09.10.13 | Dead Pastors Society - September 10, 2013

    […] Humor can help us realize some uncomfortable truths, this post by The Unappreciated Pastor is a satirical look at signs that you, as a pastor, might not last […]

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