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BONUS: for pastors only, 3rd of 7 Great Mistakes

June 18, 2017

With gratitude to Rose Booker-Jones, here’s an article by Bob Kaylor —

The season for pastoral moves is almost here, and while you’re packing boxes, painting walls, grousing about mortgage interest rates, and threatening to fire your realtor, you’re also getting ready to go to a new church where the people are obviously nicer, the building more problem-free, and the worship more heavenly than that backward place in East Podunk that you’re currently serving. Of course, you’re on your way up, so you don’t want to stay at one place too long, since First Church Nirvana is likely to open up at any time. So, in the interest of helping you make as many pastoral moves as possible, here’s a list of seven keys for making your worst move ever. Follow this advice and I guarantee that you’ll be on your way to yet another church in no time!

1. Plan to interfere as much as possible with your current church after you’re gone.

Sure, you’re leaving, but lots of people in your current church still love you. In fact, they’ve told you that they can’t live without you, and you absolutely agree. It’s important to listen to their complaints about the new pastor and empathize with them about the fact that a moron has attempted to take your place. Show up randomly at church events, even if it means driving a couple of hours. Stoke the gossip on social media by posting things on church members’ timelines like, “How are things, really?” And, for goodness’ sake, don’t leave the new pastor any information that might be helpful to him. You’ve got better things to do. Follow this advice and you can be sure that the church you just left will never again be as effective as it was when you were the pastor.

2. When you get to your new church, assume that God hasn’t been anywhere near the place until you showed up.

The people at your new church don’t know what they were missing until you arrive. When you look at the building, the church board, and the bulletin, you will be certain that God has long forsaken this place since there’s clearly no evidence of him anywhere. It will be up to you to bring God back to this nearly pagan community, since no one sitting in the pews has a shred of the theological sophistication that you possess in spades. Assume, however, that there must be a small remnant of people in the church praising God (in secret, of course) because, clearly, you are the answer to their prayers. As for the rest, make sure that you preach to them condescendingly and mock their feeble attempts at expressing love for God through their wheezy music and ineloquent reading of Scripture. They will thank you for it when you leave in a year or two.

3. Heed the advice of the people who show up at your office door with a cake on the first day.

The first people who greet your arrival will have all kinds of important things to tell you. They’ve been waiting for this moment ever since the idiot who previously occupied this office is finally gone and they want you to know that you can count on them to give you the straight scoop on how things operate at the church. By all means, make sure you don’t consult anyone in the church other than these people! Listen to their every word of gossip, complaint, and advice. They have their…er, your best interests at heart. Put them into positions of power as soon as possible and pander to their every need. They will throw you a great going away party in a couple years. Sadly, no one else will be there.

Hooboy. Am I the only one who’s fallen for this one?

And I even had Judy Hartleroad warn me about this when moving to my second appointment.

I thought she was kidding. 

She wasn’t.

She was right.


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  1. Janet permalink

    My dad told me the first people to show up are the nosey ones who always want your ear, and want to be in on everything.they want to be in charge. He was right.


  2. I grew up in a church like that. I am not a member there any longer, but I am sure there is the status quo. There are the worker bees though, the ones I miss and stay in touch with, whose ability to support the community outreach with little or no appreciation. But the ones in this scenario have worked their magic with all but one pastor and they made haste of his departure!


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