8 Reasons Pastors Get Fired

Over the past several years, I’ve paid more attention to reasons pastors—including some of my acquaintances and former students—have been fired. In some cases, the congregation has been a “knucklehead” group of people who’ve treated a leader poorly; but, I’ve also seen some leaders who invited trouble by doing the following:

  1. Leading too quickly into change. It wasn’t that change wasn’t needed; it was that leaders pushed change so hard and so quickly that the church wasn’t ready to move in that direction.
  2. Pushing one theological agenda. Here, I’m not talking about somebody promoting heresy. In these cases, it’s been leaders who think their particular “ism” is the only correct one within the realm of evangelicalism—and they crusade for it.
  3. Being lazy and unaccountable. This would include leaders who view ministry as only a 40-hour per week job, with little or no willingness to work beyond that limit. It also includes leaders in small churches who answer to no one and often do ministry alone.
  4. Plagiarizing sermons. This approach to sermon preparation has always been a bad one, but access to sermons on the Internet has now made it easier to do—and easier to get caught.
  5. Creating conflict with other staff members. Some leaders are great at things like casting vision but not so great at leading a staff. When the staff are longer-term, beloved members, conflict can lead to the new guy’s departure.
  6. Falling morally. Many of us don’t have to look very far to find someone who’s walked this painful path. Some folks make decisions and take actions that cost them more than they ever gained by their faulty choices.
  7. Failing to shepherd the people. When this failure has led to dismissal, it’s most often been when pastors see their role almost exclusively as the one who studies the Word and preaches—so much, in fact, that they see little need to walk with the people.
  8. Mismanaging funds. Perhaps it’s been spending the church’s money in frivolous and wrong ways, or maybe it’s been spending without accountability. Either way, financial issues have led a church to distrust their leader—which makes it difficult for him to lead.

What other reasons would you add to this list?


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