Top Ten Reasons Why Preachers Run

preacher-1.jpg This list will not apply to all preachers of course. Some preachers leave a congregation simply because they want the prestige of a larger church, salary, more benefits, etc. But I have been preaching since 1962 and here are some reasons I think preachers leave a church or leave preaching.

  1. Runs out of sermons (hasn’t learned to recycle his own material or “utilize” other’s material)
  2. Runs out of friends (people he can confide in who really care and accept him, faults and all – and will keep his confiding confidential)
  3. Runs out of money (cost of living outstrips support – can’t get a decent raise)
  4. Runs out of energy (to do the elder’s and deacon’s work as well as prepare and deliver sermons, teach classes, etc.)
  5. Runs out of patience (criticized by Brother Brutal and Sister Tactless one too many times)
  6. Runs out of diplomacy (begins telling the leaders [his employers] exactly what he thinks and why – jeopardizes long tenures!)
  7. Runs out of naiveté (realizes that preaching to a church in a building will not change the world)
  8. Runs out of time to be with his wife and raise his kids (demands of members overshadow needs of family)
  9. Runs out of tolerance (for a system that makes him responsible for things over which he has no influence or control)
  10. Runs out of endurance (decides that if he can’t change minds, he can at least change locations, jobs, careers, etc.)


Filed under Preaching/Teaching

7 responses to “Top Ten Reasons Why Preachers Run

  1. Lots of those could be extrapolated to almost any job, because pastoring is, in addition to other things, a job.

    But you forgot the Big One.

    “Runs out of reasons to believe in something that isn’t there. (can’t rationalize the irrational, etc.)”

    (You knew someone would say it) 🙂

  2. Dwight,

    Great post. Love the list. I too can see many preachers dropping out because of those problems. All too real.


  3. dwhitsett

    Thanks brother Trey. I got the idea of lists from you and Letterman. I have another, more positive list I’ll post in a few days.

  4. Very interesting. I think we’ve seen a major shift in CoC ministers over the past 50 years. I’ve read studies that estimated the average CoC minister/preacher spent 2 years at a congregation before moving on. I would expect this number is drastically higher today.

    Some ministers are even spending their entire career at one location. That must have been virtually unheard of 50 years ago.

    Longetivity certainly has its disadvantages, but they seem to be overshadowed by the benefits.

    With that said, we’re probably battling career turnover more now than ever. It’s very common to see a minister leave for another career after 5-10 years in ministry.

  5. merry

    I emailed this list to my husband who is in the process of looking for a job of outside of vocational ministry for the time being and deciding exactly how and when he will resign (although it will definitely be soon). He responded that reasons 4-10 all apply.

  6. dwhitsett

    Merry, my heart goes out to you. Every preacher needs to take a look at the brutal facts. Is the situation in which I find myself realistically going to change? If so, how will it change? In the meantime, how is my family dealing with my misery? How am I dealing with it? My counsel is to not stay in a situation which will poison your heart and leave you with an abiding bitterness. There’s a world out there hungry for the gospel. Go tell it. No use flogging a dead horse.

  7. merry

    Thanks for the encouragement. Asking those questions is exactly what has lead to my husband sending out resumes and filling out applications.

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