Issue #25: 9 Signs Your Ministry is Not Sustainable Long-Term
The average pastor stays at his church 3-5 years. Most ministry leaders don’t make it more than 5-10 years before they quit for good. Yet, most pastors would probably want to be in ministry for the long haul. I know I do. I want to preach and lead until I can’t anymore. I want to make it to the end without having a moral failure or quitting.
In my 20’s and early 30’s, I thought I could do that without making any adjustments. Boy, was I wrong! I pushed so hard that I almost burned out and quit the ministry altogether. Looking back now I see some traits I exhibited, and they weren’t healthy. Let me list my bad habits and some more I have seen that will hinder long term ministry sustainability.
The pastor is working six days a week.
I worked Sunday through Friday. I remember I used to get done on Friday at 4 pm, go home, rest and spend time with family for about 28 hours. I then started working on my sermon again on Saturday night when everyone went to bed. That’s not sustainable long term.
The pastor doesn’t choose his battles wisely.
I spoke with a former pastor this weekend. He served 9 churches in 22 years. That’s a lot. It became apparent in our conversations that he didn’t know how to pick which hills to die on. Fighting every battle is a ministry killer.
The pastor is not developing leaders.
You’re doing all the work yourself, even making bulletins. If you don’t get help, you won’t be around long.
The pastor does not have structures for accountability.
If a pastor builds an echo chamber, he can’t see himself or his ministry with a sober mind. Also, there is no one to keep him in check. Not a recipe for success.
The pastor is constantly engaged in conflict with others.
This might not be your fault, but it could be. Either way, it doesn’t matter. If you’re constantly engaged in battles, you will die a death by a thousand cuts.
The pastor is more focused on numerical growth than the spiritual development of his congregation.
I was guilty of this. Take it from me, it will run you into the ground. Chasing numerical growth isn’t fulfilling and it leads to burn out.
The pastor is consistently neglecting spiritual disciplines.
They always say the things you will begin to neglect first are those things that no one sees. It’s true. Being in the word and prayer is easy to neglect when you’re too busy. But it’s detrimental to your spiritual health and ministry.
The pastors’ family is not happy at the church.
The saying, “happy wife, happy life” is true—especially if you’re a pastor. If your wife and kids don’t want to attend the church you pastor, you aren’t far from being done.
The pastor dreads going to church on Sunday.
It’s okay if you feel this way from time to time. Everyone does. But if you dread leading the church in worship every Sunday there is a problem and long-term sustainability isn’t likely.
I know this article is a bit negative, but it’s also realistic. Next week, I will propose some solutions to cultivate long-term health and sustainability. In the meantime, brother pastor, I am praying for you. May God strengthen you in your ministry and resolve to serve the Lord Christ and His gospel.