Four Signs Your Pastor May Be In Trouble

pastors

Pastor Jeremy has been at Faith Church for 12 years. The people seem to like him and he’s gotten some notice and recognition in the city and the publishing arena. His sermons don’t seem to be off base biblically and the church, while not growing dramatically, doesn’t seem to be falling apart or dying.

Yes, there have been a few times when people wondered what might be going on, but he always came through those periods of apparent overwork, discouragement or pressing too hard for change and accomplishments.

People can’t imagine what it would be like without him and they would certainly not want to think about him not being there any more and all the work it would take to replace him.

There are lots of Pastor Jeremy’s in churches today. Seemingly competent, steady, accomplished and committed to the Lord’s work and His church. Nothing problematic is that obvious to the church attenders and any comments or questions feel like disloyalty and nitpicking rather than helpful.

But sometimes there really are problem below the surface that need to be addressed. They don’t mean that the pastor needs to go or be called out in front of the attenders but those issues do require attention from the pastor and the leaders. If not treated, like weeds still below the topsoil, they will eventually surface sometimes on multiple occasions and the damage will be far greater.

Let me suggest four warning signs to watch for.

First, be alert to the pastor’s anger becoming more and more prominent in the messages. No, he or she won’t suddenly throw a tantrum, at least in most cases, but rather will express regular irritation with the people in the church – they aren’t dedicated enough, don’t repent of their sin, aren’t serving more or didn’t respond the way that was hoped. And while pastors do need at times to prophetically call their people to higher devotion and obedience, this will be different. Instead of it feeling prophetic, it will seem more punitive.

Second, be aware of other staff and attenders silently leaving the church. There will likely not be a mass exodus but rather a slow disappearance where it may take months to know that these key people or leaders are not there any more. Staff working for a healthy, committed leader don’t all leave, however, in a short amount of time.

Third, look for a distancing of themselves from the regular life of the church.  Of course, no pastor can or needs to attend everything. But I’m talking about something different – they are less involved with staff, they don’t enjoy church gatherings much and only make appearances these days, they are rarely seen there with their spouse and children and they may even be in the office less.

Finally, take notice of a more guarded, polished and controlled demeanor in public. The once spontaneous, fun and humorous pastor becomes very stiff, with a phony smile and does ministry on cruise control rather than feeling and responding to the heartbeat of the church. You never hear much that is deep from within or personal anymore.

I hope that none of you reading this ever has to use the content here but I’m afraid you might and will then need to. Love your pastor and do what you can to get him and/or the leaders to honestly take inventory and evaluation of what can be done to restore them to the person they were when they started. Restoration should be the goal and if the pastor will respond there can be great rejoicing.

But if you get a defensive response, then you were probably right in the first place. Your pastor may be in trouble and something has to be done.

Single Answers: The New Holy Grail of The Church

movement

Some of you are old enough to remember the Jesus Movement with its counter-cultural services, free-spirited Bible studies and unusually dressed adherents. The movement, popular in the late 60’s and 70’s, actually spawned some amazing results, changed lives and challenged the church and ultimately Jesus followers to move beyond their comfortable traditions and styles. And it brought a freshness to our Christian music that still resonates today.

Ironically, one of the common visuals of those days was the ONE WAY sign, made visual either by an actual sign or graphic or sometimes by a raised index finger pointed upward towards the sky. It represented the fact that to Christians Jesus is the only way. It was a striking juxtaposition to the movement’s there are many ways to do church.

Sadly, decades later, many in the church are now promoting a one way mentality that goes beyond Jesus as one only real road to Heaven and to a relationship with God the Father. Today, many preach, promote and write about new one ways that really have no Biblical foundation but sound good and many are buying them.

For example, many believe there is only one way to grow Christians: small groups, radical discipleship, form of Bible study, personal disciplines, etc. And while there may be good and helpful ideas in each sometimes the authors and other proponents make it sound like they have just found the missing link that the rest of culture has missed for 2000 years.

Or there is only one size of church that is going to really grow and impact the community: mega, small, seeker-focused, seeker-driven, contemporary, traditional . . . you get my drift.

In the middle of our current fears from ISIS, evil, terror and who knows what else, some are suggesting THE answer is: a new emphasis on prayer, revival, saving the city, reconciliation, a return to the first century church, casting out demons and the like. Those may all be good things and helpful, are they THE answer? Some would have us think they are.

There are lots of other sure solutions as well in the minds of many: the right President, the renewal of signs, wonders and miracles, a new emphasis on studying the End Times, restoring leadership in the home, renewal of our inner cities, etc. Maybe you’re leaning toward your own ONE WAY concept these days.

I want to encourage you not to go there. No, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t support any action or initiative that might help you or your family grow in their faith. Rather, don’t expect it to be THE answer. As I read my Bible, Jesus is THE answer. Jesus is the hope of the world, not the church. If we want to be part of THE answer, then we need to follow and obey Jesus no matter what the methods are that work best for us and those God has given us to have community with.

Somehow I think that if we all just kept our eyes and actions on Him, victory in some form is going to come. Let’s let Him decide how that happens.