Church Leadership Lab is a podcast that seeks to empower healthy churches. Through conversations, interviews, and stories, we explore what's happening in ministry today and how pastors and leaders can navigate what lies ahead.
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The past few years have been tough. Pastors, especially, emerged tired and beaten up after Covid, racial tensions, a contentious election, and gun violence. The long-term effects of these challenges can be seen in many pastors and church leaders leaving the ministry. While there’s no precedent for the challenging season that caused many to leave full-time ministry jobs, there are things we can learn from it.
Covid forcing pastors to try and innovate 30 years in 30 days left many burned out, exhausted, or leaving their roles. These resignations accelerated pastoral and leadership succession, but for many, there was no pool to pull from. It takes time to heal after experiencing trauma, and it would be great to see many who left return after they’ve done the hard work of healing for themselves and their families.
One of the best ways to keep your staff is to keep them in the loop. Prioritize communication by having actual conversations rather than simply shooting off emails. Release yourself from the tyranny of the urgent we experienced during Covid and return to expanding your capacity for relationship and togetherness.
Prioritize being social again. Create spaces and opportunities to gather so people can have hard conversations, laugh, learn from each other, and regrow our people skills. Investing in relational equity will also pay off in increasing volunteer recruitment and retention. Don’t keep hiring specialists, find generalists who can care for your people and invite your congregations to volunteer specialist skills like graphic design or light building/grounds work.
If someone is struggling with deciding to stay or go, we’ve got to change the paradigm. Rather than heaping on the guilt to stay, we must prayerfully help an individual wrestle through their decision. We must learn to hold individuals loosely while generating a vision for their skills, creating development opportunities, and succession or transition plans rather than defaulting to being reactive when someone quits. Individual contributors will best serve the kingdom where they best fit.
On an encouraging note, God is not surprised by the pandemic or the Great Resignation. He’s still working, and we can re-engage ourselves and others in this work.
Book: The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson
Last Thing You Listened To: “The Bulletin” Speclal Edition: One on One with Bono
Favorite Technology: Kindle
Quote/Advice: “Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.” -Nikolaus Zinzendorf
One Thing for Church Leaders: Don’t forsake your soul. The hardest thing is hearing stories of heartbreak and hurt in pastoral families. So many of us in ministry are passionate about caring for others but neglect to care for our souls. Places like Standing Stone Ministry can help.