One reason many churches are plateaued or in decline is their revolving-door leadership.

In a recent article, Rick Warren writes: “A big reason why many churches are plateaued and declining is because they change leaders every few years. There’s no way a church can grow healthy and strong if the office of the pastor has a revolving door.

“What would happen to a family that got a new daddy every three or four years? The children would have massive trust issues from not knowing who they count on, as well as all kinds of emotional wounds, including a fear of abandonment, poor self-esteem, and a suspicious attitude in every relationship. When so many pastors move around every few years (or they are forced to move by their denomination), it’s no wonder many churches are weakened by conflict, cliques, gossip and distrust.

“Usually in a church, the first year for a new pastor is the honeymoon—everybody tries to get along and be happy. (Actually it’s not really a honeymoon, just suspended judgment!) The second year for the new pastor, he starts to be criticized by people who don’t like his new direction for the church. The seven last words of the church are, ‘We’ve never done it that way before!’

“By the third or fourth year, somebody has to leave—either the pastor leaves or those who are dissatisfied leave. From 35 years of coaching pastors and mediating church conflicts between members and their pastors, I’ve seen this again and again: When the pastor leaves, the problems stay. (They’re left for the next poor pastor to deal with.) However, if the pastor stays, the problems leave. Either the problem eventually is solved, or the problem-creators move to other churches. It’s sad that one study showed the average pastor gives up and leaves because of seven vocal critics.” (Read more.)

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