4 Stupid Reasons Pastors Quit
Ask most pastors why they’ve left a church and they’ll likely say something along the lines of “it was God’s leading”. While that is ideally the case, the reasons are often a lot simpler than that. Frankly, the reasons are often pretty lame. There are 4 that seem to come most often.
any time a church smaller than my current ministry has approached me to consider a move, it’s usually pretty easy to say no. But, when a bigger church - more people, more resources - comes knocking… man, it gets tempting. It’s a pride thing for sure. We want to be the one overseeing the biggest ministry. We want access to the nicer facility, the bigger budget, more influence, whatever. Here’s my thoughts on that - Moving to a larger church doesn’t make you a better youth pastor any more than inheriting a ton of money makes you a great businessman. You want a bigger ministry? Grow the one you’ve got.
Pastors - especially youth pastors - are chronically under paid. I know far too many YP’s struggling to provide for their family because they’re simply not being paid fairly. I’ve always said I didn’t expect to get rich going into youth ministry, but I didn’t take a vow of poverty either. Many denominations provide some type of pay grid to give churches guidance on staff salaries. Look for that info to see where you stand. If you believe you deserve a raise, go make your case to your supervisor. If a raise isn’t in the cards where you’re at, consider these two things before making a move for a larger pay cheque:
- Where God leads you, he will provide for you. There’s plenty of examples of this in scripture (Phil 4:19, Matt 6:33, I could go on…) I won’t go into them here. In my own time in ministry my pay hasn’t always met my wishes or even felt completely fair, but God has always provided for my needs and often blessed me well beyond that.
- There’s so much more than salary to consider when making a move. Purely from the financial side of it, you need to take all these into consideration as well: benefits, vacation time, annual salary review/raise (not all churches do it), RRSP/Pension contributions, cell phone plan (does your current church cover that?), mileage reimbursement rates, insurance costs, professional development/conference allowance, housing costs, job prospects for your spouse, and of course moving costs. What is the true value of all these things where you are currently compared to where you’re considering going?
I was about 1 month into my first full time ministry when I got hauled into the Sr pastor’s office and reamed out for the first time. For the life of me, I can’t remember what had happened (it’s fair to assume that as a 22 year old with about 1 year of ministry experience that I had done something stupid-ish). I just know that when I walked out of that office, I felt like a complete failure and was ready to pack it in. I’ve experienced that feeling several more times over the years, honestly. When everything blows up, leaving feels like it would be the easiest thing to do. But, is it the right thing? Believe it or not, if you’re able to stay after a big mistake - learn from it, recover from it, and rebuild - you and your ministry can come out stronger than ever. Out of mistakes I’ve been forced to learn to admit failure, repair relationships, accept grace, and move forward. My ministry and I are both better for it.
Bag is Empty
Every pastor has their bag of tricks; the ideas/methods that you bring to a ministry. If you stick around long enough in one place you will eventually use them all up. Your programming strategies, teaching style, and event ideas will all be out there and in time will become old and need to be revamped. I’ve witnessed plenty of pastors who pack it in at that point. The church/youth group has plateaued, perhaps and they feel as if they’ve taken things as far as they can. That could be true. There does come a time in organizations where new leadership is needed. But, what if you could push past the plateau? What if you kept adding to your bag of tricks - kept learning and experimenting with new strategies/ideas? What if you could re-invent yourself and your ministry as the years pass?
Look, sometimes, there’s good reason to leave (read about that here). But, the benefits of staying (read about that here) are just too high to leave for a bad reason. If you’re considering a move, you’ll do well to make sure one of these reasons isn’t ultimately behind your motives.