The average tenure of a pastor isn’t anything to brag about. It’s a little scary, actually. So I have put together some warning signs that you may want to watch for if you have have recently been hired at a church. If any of these are true of you, don’t throw your boxes away just yet. You may need them again real soon..
1. They give you the keys to the buildings…and the lawnmower. I’ve mowed a lot of grass for the church. Nothing wrong with that. But if a church expects the pastor to do such jobs it could make for a tough ride.
2. You find out the new & exciting church the previous pastor was “called to” is the one you just left. Everything looks good when your present circumstances are horrible. Trials have a way of blurring our vision. My advice is, if possible, never make a major decision in the midst of a trial. And in most instances it is a MUST to speak with the previous pastor about the church.
3. The pianist has a spittoon. This can’t be a good sign. I didn’t make this one up either. It is a reality. Leadership must understand they will have to make adjustments to keep from casting stumbling blocks before others. If they are not willing to do this, it will be tough to lead.
4. There are two deacons meetings each month. You are invited to one. There is no place in ministry for a dictatorship. But the pastor must be involved in the leadership of the church. Regularly scheduled meetings of the leadership that do not include the pastor are a sign of a spiritually sick church.
5. You recognize all of your deacons have the same last name. Never a good idea. Especially in a smaller church. Allegiance is too often with family rather than with Scripture.
6. The church has had five pastors in seven years, but the same worship leader for ten. Watch out for staff that seem to always go unscathed while other staff are given the boot. Not the case always, but sometimes they are the source of the problem.
7. You look out the window & the deacons are marching around the pastorium carrying shofars. I envy churches that are elder led. But the fact is in my denomination most are deacon led. If the deacons are against you, it’s tough.
8. Your leadership meetings always end with “Let’s ask the deacons first.” If approval for everything is contingent upon the deacons you could be in trouble. If you have good and godly deacons that may not be the case. But too often deacons are where they are because they are “good” and not necessarily “godly”.
9. You get a list of “expectations” and preaching isn’t one of them. Churches normally come up with their own expectations for a pastor. And sadly, those expectations often do not originate with the Word of God. As a pastor you will recognize that your most important job is preaching/teaching the Word. If the church does not see that, it could cause serious tension.
Remember “It’s better to want what you don’t have than have what you don’t want!” Don’t be so quick to go to a new church. Check it out first. Take your time. Ask tough questions. You will never experience the fruitfulness that longevity brings bouncing from church to church.