- Many pastor firings occur because one or a few malcontents are spreading rumors. Please check the sources of these rumors. Please ask people other than the malcontents and bullies.
- A number of pastor firings occur due to underhanded actions by other staff. I know of one situation where the executive pastor did not like the leadership of the pastor, so he worked in darkness with the personnel committee to get the pastor fired. The personnel committee never asked for the pastor’s side of the conflict.
- Many pastors are fired without any explanation. I am surprised how often this reality transpires. Typically, the personnel committee or similar group tells the pastors they will not get a severance if they challenge them or question them.
- Very few pastors get adequate severance when they are fired. It typically takes several months for a pastor to find a job. Severance often runs out before then.
- Your church is labeled as a “preacher-eating” church. Your church’s reputation and witness are hurt in the community. You will wonder why other pastors decline to interview for the open position. They know. They’ve heard what you did.
- If you had been willing to be patient and Christ-like, pastors would likely seek another job without your firing them. If you let pastors know their job is in jeopardy and give them six to nine months to find another position, many will do so. Pastors can always find another church much easier if they have a church. And the church avoids the pain, conflict, and dirtied reputation that comes with firing a pastor.
Am I the Grinch trying to steal Christmas? No way. Bah. Humbug. I simply want to uncover a dark reality of which many church members have little knowledge: many pastors are being fired this Christmas season. I know. I see it every year. I deal with it every year. To be clear, I cannot be certain pastor terminations accelerate at Christmas. Perhaps the numbers seem high since the timing is so insidious. Regardless, these considerations apply regardless of the time of year.
Jimmy Butler is an amazing basketball player and he seems to be fitting in very well with his new team – the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier this season, he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves but publicly stated he did not want to play for the Timberwolves any longer, that he did not trust or respect the management. Amazingly, despite his demands to leave the team, he insisted he was not a distraction. No one, of course, believed he was not a distraction. If you declare you don’t want to play on a team, it is impossible to not to be distraction. Here are four signs a team-member is a distraction.
1. The person is negative.It is impossible for a negative team-member to not be a distraction. They suck energy from the room and from the team. Instead of contributing to the culture, a negative team-member corrodes the culture.
2. The person has to be over-managed.Jim Collins wrote that “if someone has to be over-managed, you have the wrong person in the role.” When a person requires over-management, time that could be deployed towards mission and opportunities is constantly syphoned away towards less important things.
3. The person doesn’t believe in the mission and values.A team-member who does not believe in the vision of the team is going to slow down the team from realizing the vision. A team-member who is not moving in the same direction as the team is going to create distraction from the direction or worse cause the team to shift direction.
4. The person sends signals they are not “all-in.”Jimmy Butler created work for his team, when he was with Minnesota. The other players had to answer questions about him. Instead of solely thinking about games, they were forced to think about him. When someone sends signals that they are not “all-in,” the team will suffer. Eventually Jimmy Butler, and all-star player, was traded for non-all-stars, and the team is playing better without him. A committed non-all-star is infinitely better for a team than a non-committed all-star. He is doing great with the 76ers, which shows that a distracting team-member on one team is not necessarily a distraction on a different team. Life is always better, for all of us, when we are on a team where we contribute and don’t corrode, where we add to the team and don’t take away from the team. Read the full article 4 Signs a Team Member Is a Distraction that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
An effective leader is a focused leader. A distracted leader greatly limits his or her effectiveness. Instead of leveraging influence, intellect, and inspiration towards a great purpose, a distracted leader divides resources across a plethora of priorities. A distracted leader commonly diffuses attention and focus and chases too many goals. Distractions can come masked as “good opportunities,” but if they pull you off mission, they are distractions nonetheless. So how do you avoid being a distracted leader? These four practices can help:
1. Remember where you add the greatest valueFocused leaders have a healthy understanding of who they are, of where they make the biggest contribution. Distracted leaders are typically confused leaders, not only confused about priorities but also confused about themselves – confused about their gifting and passion. To be focused and to remain focused, remember where you add the greatest value. If you are unsure, ask others you trust and reflect on where you have made the biggest impact in the past.
2. Keep your top goals in front of youIf you don’t have a list of goals or current top priorities, then it is highly unlikely you are a focused leader. But having goals and filing them away is very different from using them as a filter for decisions and actions. If you keep your top goals in front of you, they are much more likely to become a filter for what you say “yes” to and of where you invest your time. Chose several important goals and then let those goals boss you around.
3. Always align to the mission and values of your ministry or organizationWhen you goals and your gifting are in sync with the mission and values of the ministry or organization, then focus and impact are exponentially multiplied. If your goals are not in sync, then you are in the wrong place. If you don’t align to the mission and values of your team’s culture, not only will you be distracted, but you will also be a distraction.
4. Filter learning through your contextYes, it is true that “leaders are readers” and that great leaders show “learning agility” – the ability to acquire and assimilate new information and scale their leadership. But there are times when new learning can unintentionally pull leaders away from effectiveness. Undisciplined and unfocused leaders can read one book or listen to one podcast and attempt to change the entire direction of their ministry or organization. Learn but filter and apply learning through your context, through your goals, and through how God has designed you as a leader. As your focus increases so does your effectiveness. Read the full article 4 Ways to Avoid Being a Distracted Leader that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
Please hear me clearly: I am a strong proponent of longer-term pastorates. I love hearing about pastors passing tenure thresholds of five, ten, and fifteen years. All other things being equal, I would much rather see a pastor have long tenure in a given church than not. But recently a member of this community challenged me. He is a longer-term pastor himself, and he candidly and transparently shared some of his struggles of serving so many years at one church. I took his admonition to heart and reviewed several long-term pastorates that did not turn out well. I saw five common themes in their struggles:
- The pastor can coast. Because longer-term pastors have earned the trust of members over many years, it can be tempting for them to go through the motions of ministry and leadership. They may also be weary of the ministry and, thus, have little desire or energy to lead the church to a new level.
- There can be too much familiarity among the staff. It is not unusual for longer-term pastors to have longer-term staff. It is possible this staff becomes too comfortable with the pastor and the pastor’s leadership. Simply stated, they no longer look at the pastor as their leader as much as they view the pastor as their friend.
- The pastor can stay for the wrong reasons. In some cases, the longer-term pastor hangs on for financial security or fear of finding another place of ministry. The call to ministry thus becomes a defensive call rather than a proactive vision-laden call.
- Church members can get too comfortable. The longer-term pastor becomes a source of routine and tradition for the members. The pastor becomes a symbol of longevity, stability, and change aversion.
- The pastor can stop learning. Longer-term pastors must be highly intentional to learn about the world outside their own churches. Because they have been at one church for so long, they can see their particular experiences as normative. One pastor shared with us, “After twelve years at my church, I started learning about other churches, even visiting a new church once a quarter. I was amazed to learn how much had changed in church practices that I had missed the past several years.”
In the recent past, the role of the interim pastor was simple and straightforward: Find someone who can preach for six to nine months until the new pastor comes on board. Today, the role of the interim pastor is changing, becoming more complex, and carrying higher expectations. Why is this dramatic change taking place? Here are six major reasons:
- Churches want and need more help than preaching in an interim period. Depending on how you define revitalization, somewhere between 65% and 90% of all North American congregations need some type of revitalization efforts and strategy. More churches want and expect that of their interim pastors.
- Churches want to know if an interim pastor has specific qualifications for the job. Related to the first reason, this new reality is growing. More and more churches want to know if the prospective interim is truly trained and qualified for the role. That is one of the major reasons we created Interim Pastor University: to train and provide high-level certification for this unique ministry.
- Interim periods are growing in length. There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon we have addressed elsewhere. But we know the time between pastors is growing. Churches, therefore, want more than the traditional pastor during this period.
- Churches need interim pastors to make tough decisions. Many churches now look for interim pastors who can lead to major changes and clean the slate for the next pastor. This type of leadership requires both experience and specific training.
- The role of the interim pastor is becoming a retirement vocation for many Boomer church leaders. A number of these leaders may do 20 or more interim pastorates as a retirement ministry. Boomer church leaders will not fade gently into the sunset. This reality is a new phenomenon that is changing the way people look at interim pastors.
- Church life, in general, is more complex. The consequence is the need for an interim pastor who can adjust to these complexities. That interim pastor is different than those of the recent past.
Five Ways a Congregation Can Prevent Short Term Pastoral Tenure
- Form a liaison advocacy group
- Start an intercessory prayer ministry for the pastor
- Get quarterly updates for the first three years
- Form an advocacy group for the pastor’s family
- Be transparent and truthful on the front end
- Simply put, pastoral tenure is too short.
- It always helps a pastor to know church members are regularly praying for the pastor.
- Pastors’ spouses often receive undue criticism that leads pastors to want to leave a church.
- Pastor search committees need to be transparent and truthful. “We are ready for change” is often not true.
In my post last week, I looked at the reasons pastors were fired, even though their churches were growing. In this post, I offer ways some pastors have avoided this tragedy while leading a church to growth. To be clear, these actions are not foolproof. Some churches will be preacher eaters regardless of the actions of the pastor. Still, I see these right actions as helpful toward minimizing the possibility of a forced termination.
- Communicate exponentially. If you think you are communicating redundantly, you probably have just begun to communicate sufficiently. Keep the congregation informed. Say it. Write it. Repeat it.
- Remind the members of the purpose of the growth. It’s about the Great Commission. It’s about caring for and reaching the community. It’s about touching lives. It’s not about the numbers.
- Move potential objectors to the welcome team. They will see and greet the guests. It will give them an outward focus.
- Ask a long-term member to be your mentor. You will get an invaluable perspective from “the old guard.” You will likely gain an ally as well.
- Share healthy resources with members. At the risk of sounding self-serving, I’ve heard from countless church members that two of my books have been paradigm-altering: I Am a Church Member and Autopsy of a Deceased Church.
- Celebrate the past. Sometimes we leaders need to be reminded that our church’s past has much to celebrate. We often are so eager to move to the future that we forget or neglect the lessons of the past.
- Remind them of faith steps in the past. Though this point has similarities to the previous point, this one is a specific focus and reminder of major faith steps the church has made in the past. It a powerful lesson that the church made changes in the past and can do it again in the present.
The note to me was neither cynical nor critical. The pastor had a powerful point to make. “Thom,” he said, “as you provide leadership toward church revitalization, please communicate one thing very clearly to pastors in these churches. Sometimes a pastor gets fired because the church does grow and is revitalized. I know. I just got fired.” I could sense the pain in the pastor’s words. And he is right. Even in “successful” revitalizations, it does not always turn out well for the pastor. Why is that? My list is not exhaustive, but here are seven common reasons:
- Members who can’t deal with significant change. Most of them are okay with gradual decline because it can be imperceptible day by day. But revitalization can bring major change, at least in the eyes of some church members. They would rather see the church slowly die than suddenly become healthy.
- Threats to power brokers and power groups. Growth brings new members. New members dilute the base of the power brokers. Most power brokers don’t like that, so they create lies and innuendos to force out the pastor.
- Relational disruption. One of my most memorable, and saddest, moments as a pastor took place when a woman told me God had told her I should be fired as pastor. I naturally asked her why. She responded that it was hard for her to get to know all the new people joining the church, and they were changing relationships in the church. She further said all the new Christians did not understand how we did church. Translation: she wanted her holy huddle and no more.
- Idolatry of the past. Many church members will say they really want revitalization, but their real desire is to move the church to 1988. When growth moves the church to the future, however, it’s time to get the pastor out.
- Empowered bullies. Church bullies take every opportunity to encourage complaining church members to vent and complain more. Those negative people become additions to the bully’s power base to force out a pastor who is leading change and growth.
- Staff who feel threatened. A pastor who leads a church to revitalization and growth can threaten a staff member who feels pulled out of his or her comfort zone. I know of an executive pastor who worked with a personnel committee and a church bully behind the scenes to force out a pastor who was leading the church to growth. Such acts of cowardice are too common in too many churches.
- Innuendo, gossip, and lies. The first six scenarios are often exacerbated by innuendo, gossip, and lies. The personnel committee noted above accepted the rumors and gossip conveyed by the executive pastor without ever asking the pastor his side of the story. Truth was just too inconvenient.
A common struggle leaders face is the conflict between wanting to raise expectations that will cost people on the team time and energy while simultaneously hearing from the team that “they are already maxed out” or “they are at capacity.” It is possible that “being at capacity” is an excuse, and it is possible that the team is really maxed out. So what should a leader do? If the capacity statement is reality, these three capacity cures will help the team create more time and energy. If the capacity statement is merely an excuse, these will help expose that. So either way, the following are wise moves for leaders to take.
1. Clarify what is most important.If a leader gives the team ten priorities, the team is going to be “at capacity” all of the time. Leaders owe it to their teams to help them understand what is most important in each season. Simply by clarifying what is most important now, capacity will be created as people will leverage time and energy toward what is communicated and celebrated. Leaders will likely always have more ideas than time and resources to execute those ideas, so clarity is critical.
2. Stop doing the less fruitful.To create more capacity, help the team stop doing things. And then leverage the time, energy, and financial resources from the things that were stopped towards the most important. If leaders will lead their teams through the discipline of stopping the least fruitful things, capacity will be created.
3. Develop your team.Leaders are responsible for the development of the teams they lead. If a leader’s team is 5% better than they were a year ago, then the team has 5% more capacity. If a leader of a team keeps declaring that their team is at capacity, and if the workload is really the same as it has been, then that leader has admitted that the team has not been developed. And that is on the leader. Clarity. Discipline. Development. Those are three strong capacity cures that leaders have at their disposal. If you utilize them you will help your team create more capacity OR you will expose the excuse that “capacity” has become. Read the full article What Should a Leader Do When the Team Is “at Capacity”? that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
Six Mistakes Many Search Committees Are Making Today
- They are taking too long
- They are playing candidates off one another
- They are not doing background checks: legal, social media, credit;
- They are not asking “#MeToo” questions
- They are not providing clarity to internal candidates
- They are not communicating sufficiently to the congregation
- There is no reason why it should take as long as it normally does to fill pastoral vacancies.
- You should always run legal, social media, and credit background checks on potential pastors before hiring them.
- Pastors, your social media footprint will follow you throughout life. Don’t do stupid.
- You don’t have to give all the details of a pastor search to a church, but the congregation needs ongoing updates.