Get Rid of Your Crappy Pastor!

(This post has attracted a lot of attention since first published. Thank you. Please check out my follow up post as well.)

I simply cannot count the number of complaints that I get to hear about other pastors. I've responded to such complaints many ways over the years. The simply smile and nod, without actually agreeing -- or conversely, the serious head shake. I've advised the individuals to go and talk to their pastor about their complaint. I've even tried to convince the complainer that their pastor really is pretty good.

But enough of that. I know what most of these complainers want ... They want to get rid of their crappy pastor. The sooner the better. And so, without further ado, six steps to get rid of your crappy pastor and get a better pastor in your congregation.

1) Pray for your crappy pastor. I know, you really don't want to pray for your pastor right now, but give it a try. Pray for your pastor's preaching, for your pastor's life, even for the pastor's family. Prayer was one of those things that Jesus was kind of big on, so go ahead and give it a try.

2) Make sure your crappy pastor takes a day off. Really, you don't want your pastor doing all those things that annoy you any more than absolutely necessary. Make sure everyone knows when the pastor's day off is, and that doesn't call on that day. If there is a congregational event, or an emergency, or a wedding, or a funeral on the normal day off, let it be known that your pastor will be taking another day off to make up the time off.

3) Insist that your crappy pastor take every week of vacation in the contract. Many pastors leave unclaimed vacation days every year. Let's face it - you don't really want your pastor around anyway, so encourage him or her to take all of the allowed vacation. And make it easy decision for your crappy pastor to leave town! Line up volunteers to take care of all the work around the congregation so the pastor doesn't have to work extra hard before leaving and when coming home. Offer up your vacation home, or a gift card for a plane ticket out of town. Make sure everyone comes to worship, so the pastor doesn't feel guilty about leaving for a Sunday.

4) Continuing Education Events. Speaking of getting your crappy pastor out of town, by contract your pastor probably has continuing education time. Make sure that your pastor is attending lots of events with exciting speakers, great preachers, and innovative thinkers (you know, just so your pastor can see the ways in which he or she doesn't measure up). While you're at it, go ahead and increase the continuing education budget - make sure there is no barrier to your pastor getting away from your congregation and to these events.

5) Take over the tasks with which your pastor struggles. We all know that pastors should be good at everything in the parish - from administration to preaching, from visitation with the elderly to youth events. Chances are, your crappy pastor has some places where there are struggles. Hire an administrative assistant. Get the parents and other volunteers to coordinate and host the youth events. Get a group of volunteers together to visit with homebound members. There are all sorts of ways to make sure that your crappy pastor doesn't mess up these tasks that he or she is already struggling with.

6) Encourage your pastor to spend more time in prayer and reading. Now that you have freed up your pastor from all those tasks that were the worst trouble points, there is all sorts of extra time. You don't want him or her to jump right back into those tasks and mess them up, do you? Encourage them to go and read, or spend time with other local pastors, or spend more time intentionally in prayer.

There you go! It's foolproof!

If you do these six simple things, I guarantee you will get rid of your crappy pastor. Get your congregational leaders on board with this plan. Recruit the key people in the congregation to help you with it.

Pray for your pastor, make sure your crappy pastor takes all of the allotted vacation and days off, send your pastor to amazing continuing education events, recruit volunteers (or hire other staff) to fill in your pastor's weaknesses, and make sure your pastor is spending time praying, reading, and dreaming.

Yup, that's it. Do those things, and I guarantee you will stop complaining about your crappy pastor. You will hear better sermons. People will feel more ministered to. Exciting ideas will start to come from your council meetings.

And all these things without having to go through the search process and hire a new pastor!

Take these six steps, and watch your crappy pastor become the sort of pastor you have always wanted.  

35 comments:

  1. I love this advice -- I hope churches everywhere follow it -- especially those with great pastors, who do not want their great pastor replaced by the crappy model.

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  2. As a crappy pastor, I appreciate this advice given to my congregants!

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  3. Yes, please get rid of me. I hope my parish might get rid of their crappy pastor just like you described.

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  4. My crappiness is duly noted! :-) Awesome post, David! That gets a "Yea, verily" from me!

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  5. Love this advise, it give this to people all the time when I, as a pastor, get these comments from people in other churches.

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  6. All of you! Take more time off! If I am a creation of God and therefore God's creation and a hopefull messenger here on Earth, the message might be "Chill, take some time off. They'll figure out the message it eventually" Here's hoping, go enjoy some beach time. It's Lent, give up church.

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  7. Thanks all for your feedback ... Glad you enjoyed it!

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  8. Thanks for this. A lot of my Facebook friends have been sharing this post on their walls. Nicely written :)

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  9. Great! I've reproduced this as the Wednesday Festival at RevGalBlogPals. :)

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  10. Love this! Hope more churches choose to get rid of their crappy pastors in just this fashion!

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  11. This is wonderful. I serve a congregation that makes sure their crappy pastor does all of those things (okay, we could do better with #5) which makes me feel like a lucky, happy crappy pastor. Paying your crappy pastor well also helps your crappy pastor function better.

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  12. Why didn't I think of this when teaching pastoral care in seminary! We call it "self-care" but rarely follow it! I highly recommend getting rid of all crappy pastors in our church and sending them to Hawaii for at least two weeks! I think I will do it this summer! Thanks for the great advice! Jay ALanis at www.lsps.edu

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  13. You talk about the pastor's day off. Why is it seemingly normal for a pastor to have only 1 day off per week? Many of us in other fields expect 2 days a week off from our paid jobs or even choose to work 10 or 12 hour shifts in exchange for having 3 or 4 days "off" for the things in the non-paid parts of our lives. Pastors have the same needs and obligations in their lives as the rest of us, why do we have different standards about their time off?

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    1. I nominally get 2 days off. Reality? One and a half days off is a good week. But I have been ruthless in protecting my Mondays as a sabbath day. Mighty hard to rest, engage in creative play, and take care of the kid and the critters and the house in that one day.

      Also impactful: not just two days, but two contiguous days. The weeks that I get two days off - in a row - are sheer delight.

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  14. Thanks this is wonderful and important stuff. We really need to encourage: proper care of clergy as they give so deeply of themselves, and responsibility from congregations not to criticise everything.
    However, whilst I realise this is a joke (and a very funny / poinant one), I really want to replace the word crappy with the word 'exhausted'. Yes exhaustion leads to crappness but really crappy pastors need help!

    Really crappy pastors (in my experience) do all the things exhausted ones don't (day off, holidays, prayer, CME etc) but are still crappy. Crappy pastors need to be prayed for and supported, but then also moved on with re-training, support and supervision, or retired with dignity. Not all hierarchies are good at doing the detailed work to identify the difference between the exhausted and the 'crappy' and are often tempted to lump to two together. Not good. So I would add a 7th item to the list.

    7. Ensure your regional church organisation (diocese, district, association etc) provide proper oversight, support and care for their pastors - ask if there is an appropriate counsellor, stress expert or work consultant your pastor could talk to and ask if the regional church organisation can send someone in to work with the congregation to explore your responsibilitiesa and expectations and encourage things to be more collaborative next time.

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  15. Dear Pastors:
    After 20 years in the military, I've seen a lot of churches and been on a few church councils. My experience is that many pastors tend to be 'unrepentant micromanagers/workaholics' - even the "crappy ones" (maybe ESPECIALLY the crappy ones). The symptom: a pastor sees a need and serves as a 'committee of one' to solve the problem / fill the need (it IS after all a "short term project"). Before you know it, another "short-term project" appears, then another and another. No one in the congregation wants to interfere with 'the Pastor's projects" --- and it goes downhill from there.

    What it takes is a "pro-active" Church Council, Church officers, and a Pastoral Support Committee who form a "Crappy Pastor Prevention Committee" by following the steps listed so well in the blog. One Executive Committee that I served on required that the Pastor submit the days and times the Pastor performed the activities listed in step six. And of the six required hours per week, three were "pre-scheduled".

    What can Pastors do to keep from becoming "crappy"? Understand that a real leader doesn't do everything. Perhaps you shouldn't be doing at least half of what you do! You must understand that you may be and probably ARE keeping some members of your congregation from doing task that would make them feel like they were a vital member. I learned this watching a group of 'professionals' running a new building fund campaign. There were committees set up for EVERYTHING. By the time they were done, EVERYONE in the congregation had been asked to serve on a committee and almost everyone did! Even if it was the "pencil sharpening committee" that made certain all the pencils used at the big congregation meeting were sharp and ready to go. It was no longer THE building fund. It was OUR building fund. We all were a part of raising the money for OUR new building. We ALL had ownership. One of the biggest tasks a Pastor faces is making every member of the congregation feel like they really are a vital part of the congregation. Form a "Projects Committee" who will go through your congregation roster and actually personally ASK everyone to serve somehow, some way. You might be surprised at the talents that have been hidden but come alive simply because the member was asked to help. You might also be surprised at how well the congregation performs.

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    1. Good insights. -- Pastor for 36 yrs.

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    2. Good insights. -- Pastor for 36 yrs.

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  16. I think we need to need to get rid of our crappy pastor also. Because of the all the mundane tasks of the day to day our crappy pastor has lost his passion.

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    1. Then help him find it. Try the advice first. All people go through seasons where their spirits become dry, assist him in finding new cool water. I am sure your Pastor does far more than you could possibly comprehend. He may just need rest. After all the time he has served your church, serve him. He is not a commodity to be set aside when he fails to shine, he is God's servant and deserves more than a casual set aside.

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  17. Love this article. I have found far more toxic Councils and toxic power weilding parishinors than crappy pastors in my lifetime. Often when a Pastor is tired its because of the struggles they endure to do what they have been called, trained, and equipped to do. Many parishinors don't really have a clue about how to grow or be effective, they just have snippets of things and ideas from former churches or nearby mega churches. Try partnering in prayer with your Pastor and see where God leads you together. If you still think your Pastor is struggling then you leave. Maybe its you who are being called out, not them. But if you can't respect their Pastoral authority then you won't be able to grow spiritually or receive blessings until you can learn obedience.

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  18. This will be a valuable resource for our congregation as we are in the call process presently, trying to trade in our intentional interim pastor. I'd like to use it in our newsletter if I may, since not all of our members are online.

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    1. Please feel free to use this for your newsletter, with attribution. Glad it is helpful!

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  19. I've got one more idea, so you have a "godly" seven :)
    7. Tell your pastor to go fishing for three months - or hiking, spelunking, antiquing or whatever he or she wants. Plan on paying them their salary and benefits during that time, while finding someone to cover their preaching duties. Strongly recommend they include family members in their plan and promise to not contact them with any church business. Have the congregation "sabbatical" at the same time and see how energized members are when the pastor returns.

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  20. I'm hearing a LOT about crappy pastors and it's not their days off or vacation time. It's preparation and planning. Prepare and plan for programs and liturgies. Let people know what's happening and do what you say you're going to do.

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  21. I was a crappy pastor to more than one congregation! I was SO crappy that the 'denominational hierarchy' believed that I was as crappy as some were saying, and so-much so that I've been -essentially- blackballed! Thank God. I never want to be a crappy pastor again. (I wish I would have taught Kindergarden).

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  22. I think this is true of crappy lay ministers as well... don't think your Youth & Family Minister is meeting the needs of everyone birth through college. And often their parent's as well. (Because all the do is play around and waste time on social Here you go... get rid of them! :D

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  23. This post is genius, thank you so much.

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  24. Pastor David, fabulous article. All the "self-care" in the world won't do it, because selves don't live in a vacuum. Thanks for reminding church members, boards, and councils about their responsibility. Very applicable in synagogues too!

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