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Current Events, Current Events, Ministry Briefing
Check out this story from this week’s edition of Ministry Briefing.
In a poll by Lifeway research, former pastors were asked to list the top 5 reasons that they left the pastorate. A change in calling, conflict within their church and burnout were at the top of the list. “Almost half of those who left the pastorate said their church wasn’t doing any of the kinds of things that would help” said executive director Ed Stetzer.
Click here to read the full article from Lifeway Research. Some of the findings from this research include: 
  • Trouble begins early  with 48 percent of the former pastors saying the search team didn’t accurately describe the church before their arrival.
  • 40% reported a change in calling
  • 35%  had a conflict in the church
  • 19% experienced burnout
  • 12% said personal finances played a role
  • 12% reported family issues
Why does this matter?
  • Unhealthy churches lead to unhealthy pastors, and vice-versa
  • Churches need to develop the systems to support pastors early on in order to sustain their ministry
  • Isolation, lack of boundaries, and a lack of clarity on expectations lead to an early flame out

  Readers of my blog can get this week’s issue of Ministry Briefing (plus the next three issues) for just $1! Check it out here! Find this story interesting?  It’s just one of 50 top stories great leaders are reading about this week in Ministry Briefing!logo_ministry_c Save Time. Lead Better.  Ministry Briefing finds only the top news items, cultural trends, and resources that you need to know about each week… stories that will help you save time and lead better.

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Great leaders learn from great leaders.  Each week, our editors read hundreds of church leadership resources (the great, the not-so-great, and the ‘really’?) and pick only the best of the best to share in Ministry Briefing.  You’ll learn great concepts and ideas from really sharp minds… things that will stretch and mold you into a better leader for your local church.

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Leadership, Leadership, Start Here
Greg Atkinson wrote something that caught my eye this morning. What do you think?
Yes, there are some people that quickly pick up on the lack of vision and leave the church to find another more vibrant church, but how many people keep coming back week after week secretly hoping things will get better? Hoping and praying that the pastor will get a word from God, lead with passion, conviction and purpose. I wonder how many gifted, capable, passionate lay leaders are sitting untapped in congregations around the country. I wonder.
Wow. I have to say that I have been one of those leaders at times over the years. My tendency has tended to side with the ‘hold out hope and try to make positive change wherever/however possible’ side of things. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of people that couldn’t stick it out. And that’s ok, I guess. That makes Greg’s words ring true with me. Many great leaders won’t wait around for a vision to take shape. And when their leader shows no tendency toward any kind of tangible vision, they move on. And understandably so. There have been many times I’ve questioned my strategies and feelings in this area. What do you think? Is it better to stick around and try to affect change; or better to move on and join a team where vision and the ability to move forward is easier? todd via Greg Atkinson.

Wow.  Read this from Pastor Steve Brown on the danger of becoming pastors becoming police officers who only crack down on sin:
I know, I know, there is a lot more to being a preacher and a pastor than keeping people from sinning, but if you become obsessed with sin prevention, it begins to take over everything you do and teach. Pretty soon you become a police officer and the crime is sin. You spend your time trying to discern what is and what isn’t sin, you emphasize “sin prevention” by teaching how to avoid sin and stay pure, and you create a disciplinary process whereby sin is punished in the name of Jesus and “for their own good.”
Here’s how Steve said this crept into his ministry over the years… and how it made its ugly face known in his leadership: keep reading

Jennifer LeClaire shares ten stupid things pastors should never do.  Here are the first five: 1. Abuse the sheep. Always remember that church staff—and church volunteers—are serving God, not you. Spiritual abuse is a dirty little secret in the charismatic church that is seldom exposed because it would topple small and large man-made empires alike. If you aren’t willing to be the servant of all—if you think the sheep are there to serve you—please hang up your ministry aspirations before you hurt someone. We don’t need more spiritual abusers in the pulpit. 2. Water down the gospel. If you aren’t going to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—so help you God!—please don’t preach. Although there are many effective preaching styles, if you aren’t bold enough to preach the whole gospel—even the parts people don’t want to hear—then pray for boldness until you are. keep reading

Sometimes being a pastor is a lonely and thankless job. In fact, pastors and church leaders face a unique set of burdens different from all other professions. Recently Chuck Lawless from Southeastern University compiled a list of twelve burdens that he most often sees pastors and church leaders carrying.  See if any of these resonate with you today:
  1. Declining church growth
  2. Losing the support of friends
  3. Grieving a fall
  4. Sensing that the sermon went nowhere
  5. Losing vision keep reading

One of the most common reasons for pastoral leadership mistakes is blindness to the significance of church size. Size has an enormous impact on how a church functions. There is a “size culture” that profoundly affects how decisions are made, how relationships flow, how effectiveness is evaluated, and what ministers, staff, and lay leaders do. We tend to think of the chief differences between churches mainly in denominational or theological terms, but that underestimates the impact of size on how a church operates. The difference between how churches of 100 and 1,000 function may be much greater than the difference between a Presbyterian and a Baptist church of the same size. The staff person who goes from a church of 400 to a church of 2,000 is in many ways making a far greater change than if he or she moved from one denomination to another. A large church is not simply a bigger version of a small church. The difference in communication, community formation, and decision-making processes are so great that the leadership skills required in each are of almost completely different orders. via Leadership & Church Size Dynamics | The Resurgence. What do you think?  

How much ‘confidential’ church information do you share with you spouse? You know… board meeting stuff… who says what… who you’re counseling and what the issues are. Do you share stuff like that with your wife or not? It seems that most of the time, there are two different types of people… those that share everything, and those that share nothing. I’m one of the ‘I share almost everything’ types of guys.  My wife is my confidant.  She encourages me, and she talks me off the cliff at times. But I couldn’t keep a sane head if I couldn’t confide in her. Others I know are the opposite, and tell their wives next to nothing. Megan Hill writes on this subject in a guest post at  She writes: In this post-HIPPA world, in a world where a tweak to Facebook’s privacy policy causes a cyber-stir, confidentiality is seen as a standardized procedure, an invisible but ever-present right. And that expectation gets imposed on the church. But pastors and their wives often don’t see it like that. The reality is, the church is something altogether different than a doctor’s office. And your relationship with your pastor is not your relationship with a therapist. The church is a body. An organic being in which each part is affected by the other. And this is why pastors and their wives share with one another. The problems and sins and needs that people bring to their pastor are not isolated letters to a remote advice columnist. (Nor are they unusual or inherently interesting, as some might suppose. We’ve all dealt with the same things. The root of murder is anger, says Jesus, and of adultery, lust.) Instead, the issues people have are part of their whole, eternal self. And their self is part of the body. And that body is the responsibility of the pastor, its under-shepherd. Pastoring is a long-term commitment to a comprehensive relationship. A pastor tells his wife because what happens to the church happens to him. And what happens to him, happens to her. (That’s the way marriage works.) Here’s the thing I wish people knew: when your pastor tells his wife something about you, it’s not really about you. This is what I heard from the pastors’ wives I interviewed: “If [my husband] is sad, I’ll notice. So he tells me.” “If I could give any advice to a pastor, I would say keep sharing your heart with your wife. She loves you and is there for you. She does not need all the details, but she needs your heart and your vulnerability.” “[My husband] is very open with his life. He tells me everything pertaining to his ministry. He tells me details of counseling sessions and personal information of those he ministers to and with. He processes through talking and he feels connected to me when he can share his life with me.” “I need to be a listening ear. We have had situations where [my husband] felt betrayed in the church. . . I am glad he shared those things with me. It was hard to hear, but I am called to bear his burdens as he is mine.” For pastors and their wives, it’s not about the secret information. It’s about the fact that having certain secrets can burden an individual and damage a marriage. // Read more here… What do you think?  How much do YOU share with your wife (spouse)?  Are there things that you don’t tell her… EVER? Do you think there are issues of confidentiality that are ever breached during a husband/wife discussion? Leave a comment…
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Elizabeth Esther writes: I don’t trust pastors. I want to trust them – but I’ve experienced so much church-related devastation that I doubt if I can ever again believe the best about their motives, preaching or how they conduct their lives. My trust is utterly broken. Still, the last thing I want to do is pass that disillusionment on to my children. I don’t want to cheat them of having a solid faith identity simply because Mommy can barely sit through a sermon without having a panic attack. I know of families who drop their kids at church while they go have coffee or run errands. I can’t do that. Because while I believe that authentic faith is more about inner transformation and relationship than it is about how frequently you attend church when I did take a break from church, it just wasn’t ideal for my children. They missed me. They begged me to come back. Going to church is something we’ve always done together as a family. Not only is it part of our faith practice, it’s also inextricably woven into our family identity. We go to church and then we go to lunch as a family. This is what we do. When I took a break from church, it was a major departure from our established family tradition. It was like letting disillusionment win. I’ve since started going back to church with my family. It’s my way of saying yes. Yes, there are traumatic divisions within our faith, but if we can’t find a way to work through this, who will? Yes, I am hurt and broken, but I still want to find the good  and yes, I still believe the good exists. Of course, peaceful Sundays will never be easy for me. But maybe that’s the whole point of faith: It’s not all about me. My faith and the faith of my children won’t grow in isolation. We need each other. Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Going to church with my family is how I remind myself: We belong to each other. Elizabeth Esther, a mother of five, writes a weekly OC Moms column about faith and motherhood. (Via The OC Register) How sad.  But this story is repeated thousands and thousands of times be people that have felt burned by the church. How would you respond to Elizabeth? Todd

Here’s an interesting commentary… what do you think?  Great idea, or horrible one? Many church staff in congregations perform several ministry functions even though they are not officially a “pastor”. Special attention to church staff (youth directors, associate ministers, musicians, office assistants, interns, educators, etc…) and their work wellness. Appreciating their work is not enough (a raise wouldn’t hurt). Pastors and church leadership need give more time off in a world where church staff have to do “more with less”. Micromanaging, low pay, unreasonable expectations, many evening commitments, and poorly managed church conflict all lead to staff burnout. Giving the standard “two weeks” vacation is another sure-fire way to burnout staff. Years ago, Google allowed their employees to spend up to 20% of their work time on side projects. What if churches let church staff blog, create, dream, build, write, or encourage creativity through side projects? Allowing church staff to express themselves through under utilized skills or talents may help a church find a new ministry. In addition, it allows the church staff to explore and create – something that is innate within humanity. Suppressing creativity only leads to frustration. Churches would be well advised to use a Google-like project to guard against burnout. // Read more here… What do YOU think? How do you help reduce burnout on your staff? Todd  

As a pastor, do you ever feel stereotyped?  Mark D. Roberts shares nine different pastoral stereotypes that he’s identified over the years: Ideal Pastor Perhaps the most obvious stereotype by which we are measured is the ideal pastor, the omniscient, omnipresent, omniloving clergyperson who lives only in fiction and in nostalgia. I am thinking, for example, of Father Tim in Jan Karon’s Mitford Years Series. He is the sort of compassionate, always-present pastor that everyone wants to have, and that never can be found outside of Karon’s magical Mitford. Doctor Many people think of churches as hospitals and pastors as doctors. Thus, they expect you to help them get better when they’re not feeling well spiritually. They may even be willing to “pay” for your services by chipping in financially. But they have no expectation that your job involves helping them to get into the “healing business” as lay ministers of Christ. The want expertise, delivered effectively, with an immediate result, but no ongoing obligation or relationship. Psychologist In today’s hyper-therapeutic culture, many people expect pastors to be therapists, albeit a less-expensive version. They want to tell you their troubles so that you can dig into their psyches and help them feel or function better. Many seminaries and denominations seem to have bought into this model, to an extent, by imbuing pastoral training with a substantial chunk of therapeutic learning experiences. For example, in my denomination, pastoral trainees are required to complete Clinical Pastoral Education, usually as hospital chaplains. They are not required to complete an internship in a business so as to learn how to be effective leaders or managers of the church. You can read the other six here via Nine Stereotypes for Pastors Have you ever been stereotyped as a pastor?  Tell us about it in the comments section: Todd