Pastoring a flock is a tremendously difficult, often-stressful undertaking. It is a vocational path one should choose only after engaging in earnest prayer, and with unwavering conviction. Various denominations govern their pastors using different frameworks, and I suppose some approaches are better, more gracious, gentler than others. But even in the best circumstances, full-time ministry is a significant challenge.
Suppose you wanted, or needed to offload a pastor, but you did not have the desire, or the gumption, to outright fire him. How could you do that? Well, we at Long-View Living are here to help. Below you will find seven sure-fire tips to cause your pastor to become so frustrated that he will pack it in, and leave town without you needing to fire him.
1) Get the Rumor Mill Churning
Special meetings secretly convened in member’s homes are tremendously effective at establishing and feeding an undercurrent of discontent. Truth is not particularly important or relevant in these meetings. What matters is getting alignment with the story that needs to be whispered among the flock.
Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. – Psalm 34:13
Though you may not know it, it is common for your pastor to have to defend himself against gossip, distortions, and half-truths. In severe cases, your pastor is treated as guilty until he proves his innocence against third and fourth-hand information, often originating from anonymous sources. Those who embrace Long-View Living will neither participate in, nor allow their pastors to be put on trial in this way.
2) Question His Integrity or Work Ethic
It helps create discontent in your pastor if you regularly question his integrity or his work ethic. Imply that he is lazy, that he basically works only one day a week, and is therefore not worthy of your support or your respect. Repeatedly put him in a position of needing to justify his salary, and threaten to cut that salary if he does not bend to your demands or desires.
A full-time ministry is one that is lived. There is no time-clock on which to punch in and punch out. Your pastor brings his ministry home every night, and is on call 24 hours a day. He will likely put in fifty to seventy hours of focused attention on his flock each week. Much of what he does is confidential, dealing with the deepest thoughts and hurts of those under his shepherding care. When you want to know specifics regarding his use of time, he cannot offer them without breaking confidences. Thus, it is easy (albeit misguided) to draw the conclusion that he is doing little to nothing.
3) Treat Him Like an Employee
Make it clear that the pastor works for you, and under a board of elders. Dictate his ministry to him, and establish tangible consequences for non-compliance.
Your pastor may have an office in your facility, may preach and teach members of your spiritual community, but he works for God, not for you. His standard for ministry is scripture, not directives from an elder board, or an oversight committee.
He needs an accountability relationship with a trustworthy, spiritually-mature sounding board, but it is counter-productive to subject your pastor to a business hierarchy in a spirit-led environment. This will cause his daily activities to transition from ministry to simply doing a job. The church of Jesus Christ is neither a business nor a military institution, and it is counterproductive to treat it as either.
4) Refuse to Learn
It is important to impress upon your pastor that he is not there to teach you anything new, but rather to confirm what you think you already know.
Knoweldge puffs up, but love edifies.” 1 Corinthians 8:1b
The mature Christ follower has learned that the more one studies, the greater the realization of how little he or she actually knows.
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” 1 Corinthians 8:1b
5) Communicate Poorly or Inconsistently
A great way to drive your pastor beyond the point of frustration is to not hear or understand what he is saying, and to hear with clarity what he is not saying. It is also highly effective to be contradictory in your messages to him, and when your pastor cannot make sense of the conflicting messages to tell him, “Just think about it.”
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. – Proverbs 15:11
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; – James 1:19
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
Your pastor is a professional communicator. Consistency in the message, and alignment with the leadership is critical to him being able to function effectively in his role. To achieve this consistency and alignment it is important for the leadership to know the direction the church is headed, and to know the desired outcomes of all ministerial activities. Conflicting messages coming from the leadership to the pastor will result in frustration for all parties.
6) Evaluate by Attendance and Evangelistic Success
A great way to know if your pastor is worth his keep is to look at the weekly attendance and the numerical growth rate of the congregation’s membership role. Just as a good coach will have a winning record, a good pastor will have a growing church!
Head counts, as a measure of meaningful growth, are notoriously unreliable. Hundreds, or even thousands of bottoms in seats is no guarantee that lives are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, that spiritual fruit is borne, that disciples are moving from the pure spiritual milk to the meat of God’s word. Attendance may mean nothing more than that they find the assembly interesting. Instead, we ought to be looking at internal, personal growth in each disciple. It is the task of the pastor (shepherd) to care for the flock, his sheep. It is the task of every believer to be casting seed. It is the task of God to bring that to fruition.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. – 1 Corinthians 3:6
7) Be Reactionary
It is important to keep tabs on, and to constantly adjust to the changing cultural landscape so that we can stay relevant.
Reactionary ministry and church leadership is constantly playing “catch up,” and therefore not leading anything at all. A church body that is constantly adjusting its sails to blow with the right wind is a church body that is devoid of direction. Rather than react to the culture, the church of Jesus Christ needs to be firmly anchored as a culture, and a standard. Truth is not relative, and it does not change. Neither does God change.
I, the LORD, do not change; – Malachi 3:6a
Therefore, as Christ-followers, we do not need to “stay relevant” with a godless culture. We are relevant by virtue of the gospel message to a world that is dying in sin and desperately in need of a savior. It does not get more relevant than that!
Victoriously in Christ!
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Twitter – @DamonJGray
Great observations, Damon. As the wife of a pastor, I've seen them all. Someone recently insinuated that my husband hadn't moved on because he couldn't get a bigger, better church: "It would have been much easier to leave," I responded. "But God said, 'stay.'"
Oh, Shirlee … I admire you for being the wife of a pastor, and I admire you and your husband for standing firm and hearing God's call to stay. And what exactly is a "better" church. Was that not somewhat self-insulting for the person to refer to themselves (the church) in that way?