Why Your Church Won’t Be Able to Find a Pastor

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DLCreed's picture

....this commentary is just so off in so many places.  To try and do a "one-size-fits-all" approach to the preparation for pastors is senseless.  The differences between pastoring a small church, working on a large staff church as a pastor or leading a large congregation are completing different in just about every way.  As one who grow up in a small church, attended a church of tens of thousands and pastored churches ranging in size from 300-3,000, the skill sets required for roles in various churches are almost impossible to compare.

The better question to ask is toward what kind of church leadership is this particular individual wired and gifted by God?  Super-relational, laid-back, people-person?  Smaller church.  Type-A, visionary, introvert?  Probably a larger church as a lead pastor.  Relational, consensus builder with organizational skills -- Would fit well in a team-leadership model.  Lone wolf, highly independent, low vision -- Small church.  I could go on and on.

Know your gift set and know what kind of gift set is needed for the kind of church you have and then find a match.  I've seen guys who were driven, introverts who had a big vision go into a small church in a small town with a long history and destroy the place.  They needed a relational guy who was big on shepherding and relationship building.    Put a real laid-back guy who wants to build a relationship with everyone into a large church setting and you'll watch him crash and burn from burn-out and frustration.  In some cases, a church grows with the pastor from small to large (this happened to me), but it almost always happens in a suburban or urban area with a lot of population and growth, not a rural town where people have grown up for generations.

I've seen so many young guys look at pastoring a small church as a stepping stone.  They are so desperate for an opening for ministry, they'll take anything that comes along and the results are often catastrophic to the church and to him.  I've seen churches so desperate for a new "life/spirit" in the church that they hire a young, excited whipper snapper with big ideas and high energy and end up admitting that they are simply a small-town church where people go more for fellowship than to change the world and let their young, ambitious, hungry guy go and he ends up disillusioned, burned out, bitter and broken.

I've seen guys on my staff who earned great experience leading a segment of our church leave to go pastor a small church and do just fine.  I've also seen a guy who was great on the team, was shepherding a couple of hundred leaders and people leave to go be a "lead pastor" because he wanted to be in charge and end up wrestling a small-church deacon board for 3-4 years before he gave up and moved on.  He was in charge, but had less influence for Christ than he ever had in the larger church where he was one of a team of spiritual leaders.

In other words, training is as varied as personalities and gift sets.  Saying everyone needs "such-and-such" a type of training or should start "HERE" is just mistaken.  With my experience and gift set, if I were to ever find myself in a town of 5,000 in a church that had 100 years of history and five generations of families sitting in the pews together, I'd end up dying of frustration, burning out or would simply damage the church.  We need to know where God has called us to serve and where he has not called us to serve.

My Godly home pastor of 40 years never preached to more than a 100 people.  He mowed folks grass while they are on vacation and had coffee with a church member every morning.  He took people to doctor's appointments and baptized generations of family.  He was a shepherd in every sense and I'm so grateful for him.  I could have no more been the pastor of that church as been President of the US.  Yet, I grew up in that church and love that church -- it's just not how I'm wired.  Thank God for those who are wired for a certain type of church and know it and also for those who know enough not to try to put a round peg in a square hole.

JNoël's picture

I found it interesting, but I found it was lacking in one area. I believe it is possible that American Christians are so well-informed that they have a laundry list of things they want in a pastor...and would-be pastors have a laundry-list of things they won't move on. That leaves some well-equipped pastors without places to pastor because neither wants the other.


Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

WilliamD's picture

The dynamics of the church are so complex, there is no way to diagnose with a simple solution. 

One of the problems with these "Moral Majority" generation churches is that they have a long tradition of faulty ecclesiology, such as deacon boards and one lead pastor who is supposed to do everything and be subject to them. 

I have seen, However, the lazy "thought-work" pastors who just want to theologize and philosophize, read books all day, and post on blogs and Facebook all day long. They don't want to do any hands-on work that requires man-skills. These guys are a problem too. 

I pastored a small establishment church for seven years as I was reforming my theology from a hard right Fundamentalist to a more confessional Reformed position. It was hard for me and the church I pastored. We had to shut down and re-plant. I don't blame guys who don't want to touch an established church again. I would need a Damascus road experience to force me to do it again.