Friday, April 24 2015
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13: 17
During the 38 years that I’ve been at T.B.C., we’ve lost a lot of members. Fortunately, we’ve gained considerable more than we’ve lost. I’ve often wished I could keep everyone and that I could keep them gruntled. But I’ve learned that isn’t possible; through the years I’ve had to deal with my share of disgruntled souls. They bash the Lord’s work, listing all the things they are unhappy about ---the clothing the teens wore, inadequate follow-up on visitors, a perceived snub from another member, a children’s event that they felt was too wild … etc… etc…etc. . There is always something for them to be disgruntled about.
Every church faces this and no pastor is exempt. In our highly mobile society, people move around a lot; and with a consumer-oriented generation that eschews loyalty and demands quality, we’re going to lose some along the way. We are ministering to a generation of church-hoppers.
Here are some things I try to remember as I cope with it:
1.Some losses are gains. God not only gives us wonderful additions but blessed subtractions. Just as a fruit tree needs occasional pruning. God prunes His church. Those who are leaving may represent a blockage in the spiritual life of the congregation, and their removal will allow God to work in newer, fresher ways.
2.We can use departures as occasions for improvement. We can lean to improve from the loss.
3.When families leave, ask God to keep you from taking it too personally. The loss of one family may prompt changes that will keep others from leaving later.
4.Ask God to send two people for everyone who leaves.
No one understands how hard it is to be a pastor. When families or individuals leave, it feels like having a tooth pulled without anesthetic. I usually take a moment to pray for the poor pastor who inherits any problem.
Thoughts taken from: Nelson’s Annual Preachers Sourcebook 2005 Edition