Why Pastors Don't Last

As a follow up to my post last Thursday: I'm far too young and inexperienced to be considered an expert on pastoral longevity. However, I think one of the largest reasons the longevity of pastors is so staggeringly short at most churches has everything to do with the principle of hiring to your weaknesses.

Particularly at smaller churches, the expectations on pastors is staggering. The pastor is expected to be a great preacher, great at pastoral care, great at general leadership, and great at managing people. The only problem with those expectations is, the church didn't hire Jesus as their senior pastor. No mortal person is equally good at all those things.

What happens is this: pastors are hired because of their strengths (which are almost always directly related to the previous pastor's weaknesses). If he's a great preacher, the chances are good that he's not going to be a great administrator. During the first year or so, the pastor will ride the momentum of his preaching but at some point his administrative inabilities will rear their ugly head. So, he'll either get frustrated and quit, or the church will get frustrated and fire him. Then they'll go hire an administratively gifted pastor and ride that momentum until they realize they can't stay awake during his sermons and the cycle will repeat itself.

Even (maybe "especially) at smaller churches, you will dramatically increase your pastor's longevity if you allow him to assemble a team that compliments his gifts. Otherwise, you might as well keep your pastor search committee in the on-deck circle; you're going to need them in a couple of years.