When the New Pastor Comes

It’s something I have heard at every church with a pastoral vacancy.

“When the new pastor comes, [fill in the blank] …”

…”We’ll be setting up extra chairs the very first week.”

…”Giving will go up.”

…”All the people who left during the interim will come back.”

…”He (or she) can deal with ______ problem or conflict we’re facing.”

…”We can finally decide on a direction for our church.”

Sorry, folks. That’s not how it works. Some people may come back to check out the new person, but others will leave now that they don’t have to hold things together. Some will stay for awhile and then leave — 1-2 months or as many as three years later — once they decide the new way isn’t for them. Giving may spike temporarily and may increase over the long term, but it will rarely shoot up immediately the way you hope it will. Neither will attendance. And if you’re spineless or directionless without a pastor, you’ve got more problems than just the vacancy on your org chart.

The new pastor is not the solution to all of your organization’s problems. If you’re currently in a pastoral search, what unrealistic hopes or expectations are you placing on the new person?

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