Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pastor, quit whining about forced termination

Thom Ranier, LifeWay head, makes some observations about church staff. Among them are two that deal with pastor and staff terminations (emphasis mine):

...we are watching a recent trend that shows about four percent of church staff are terminated each year, a number much higher than that of senior pastors (see below).

Get that statistic? Church staff members in the SBC are terminated at a rate of 4% annually. One in twenty-five church staff members is out the door in SBC churches, and that every year.

So, how does the senior pastor fare, you know, the one in a pressure cooker, the one who gets all the complaints dumped on him, the one with all those unrealistic expectations, the one who has to deal with all the obstreperous deacons, church matriarchs and patriarchs?

The number of forced terminations of senior pastors has stabilized. For the past seven years, about 1.5 percent of senior pastors have lost their jobs each year due to forced terminations. That number is fairly stable.

Roughly one senior pastor in sixty-seven gets axed each year.

Staff: 1 in 25. Senior pastor: 1 in 67.

Staff over 2.5 times as likely to be fired as senior pastor.

In a weak moment I get to thinking that being a church staff member, not the senior pastor, would be a welcome change...then I think about staff members around my association and state. Clearly, my job security as pastor is far greater than that of a staff member.

I have some sympathy for my colleagues in the Christian ministry who serve on church staff. Sure, some are "under-performing" as Ranier euphemistically puts it. But I've been around long enough to know that I would rather have a pagan as my boss than quite a few senior pastors I have known.

Let the sad anecdotes roll in....


Rick said...

The article did not discriminate between forced termination percentages of full-time versus part-time pastors. I suspect that makes a significant difference.

Bill said...

1 in 25

William Thornton said...

Everyone knows that figures are felxible for SBC pastors. ;)

Moses Model said...

In a SBC church it is generally hard to fire a pastor. More often in my experience a small group of people convince the pastor that he would be better off if he left.

William Thornton said...

That's why the phrase "forced termination" is used rather than "fired."

Anonymous said...

After working for a state convention and two local baptist associations ... I think the number is higher.

Many forced terminations are "silent departures" as church leaders give a severance package if the pastor/staff member agrees not to say or do certain things.

The departing minister usually takes the blame since the words "forced termination" or "fired" would hurt in the search for a new ministry position.

John Notestein said...

I like your comment about working for a pagan, and I'm with you on that. After watching pastors and staff interact over the years, I find it hard to imagine most would want to stay around. Throw in the people who really run the church and expect the pastor to be at their beck and call as their personal chaplain, it's a wonder many just don't leave of their own accord. Before I became involved with the inner workings of the churches I attended, I felt it would be a great place to work, being around Christians all the time. While I love to worship with my brothers and sisters, I would never want to work daily with them.