The big three firing issues for pastors are, and I’m opining here sans data because it fits what I think: women, money, laziness. LifeWay has a series on the top five reasons but, trust me, they aren’t as deep in the SBC local church hinterlands as I am. Here are some things not taught on-high by seminary gurus and sages.
Your church has a cemetery and you are dumb enough to mess with it.
My first two churches were rural and had attached cemeteries. They had people to handle it and policies, mostly unwritten, about who can be buried there and at what price, etc. The Lord graciously helped me avoid the cemetery steamroller during my 15 years at those two churches. I, city boy, was dumb as a stump on the matters. Once I suggested a woman to serve on the cemetery committee and was looked at like I had three eyes. Another time during a building program I got mildly skewered because the new building wasn’t built with the convenience of toting the casket from the sanctuary to the cemetery in mind. Somehow the dearly departed managed to make it to the hole in the ground in spite of the flawed design issues. The less you have to do with the cemetery the better. If the funeral home messes up and buries Old Pete with his feet sticking out into the cemetery walkway, just say you had nothing to do with it. It can’t help you but only hurt you. Run screaming into the night when the subject comes up and you are asked for your opinion.
Your church has a cemetery and a cemetery fund and you touch it.
Toss in a pile of money in the mix of a cemetery and you’ve got serious potential for difficulty. One church had a cemetery fund that was quite large and was better managed than the church’s own money. Back in the days when you could get double digit interest rates the fund was exploding. I mentioned in a leadership meeting that maybe we didn’t need to tap members and others for additional donations. They looked at me like I had horns, a forked tongue, and a pointed tail. I let the matter drop. Besides, there are state laws on handling cemetery funds and if the church is on the hook for perpetual cemetery care remember that perpetual is a long time. Besides, if they get mad at you, people will shift their giving to the church over to the cemetery fund. My theory on that is that although it ain’t good, at least it keeps the money around the church.
Your church has employees who are members of the church.
I don’t care how carefully your church crafts policies for the church secretary, custodian and groundskeeper, if the individuals are members then the business has a high likelihood of not ending well. Most of the folks who held these jobs in my churches didn’t leave well and some of the blame fell on the beloved pastor. Sometimes folks left the church over it and that is always the pastor’s fault, right? Same for secretary. Same for custodian. If one of the jobs is passed along to relatives, sort of like rights of royal succession, good luck in getting out of that unharmed. Your goal is to ensure that you have nothing to do with all of this, nothing to do with the windows not being cleaned or the trash not being emptied or grass not being cut. Reach that goal and you’re golden. You just thought that the mighty pastor would be sequestered in his study plumbing the depths of God’s holy word. Actually, you may have to deal with another kind of plumbing from time-to-time.
And who says learning Hebrew is more important that these types of things?
There are many more but I don’t want to overload you. Suggest a few…