The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Get rid of your rotten pastor

I can’t count the number of complaints that I hear about other pastors. I’ve smiled and nodded, without actually agreeing — or seriously shook my head. I've advised the complainers to talk to their pastor. I've even tried to convince them that their pastor is pretty good.

I know what most of these complainers want. They want to get rid of their rotten pastor — the sooner the better. So here are six steps to get rid of your rotten pastor and get a better one for your congregation.

1) Pray for your rotten pastor. I know, you really don't want to pray for your pastor right now, but give it a try. Pray for your pastor's preaching, for your pastor's life, even for the pastor's family. Prayer was one of those things that Jesus was kind of big on, so give it a try.

2) Make sure your rotten pastor takes a day off. You don't want your pastor doing all those things that annoy you more often than necessary. Make sure everyone knows what day the pastor has off, and that they shouldn't call on that day. If there is an event, emergency, wedding or funeral on the pastor’s day off, make sure your pastor takes another day off.

3) Insist that your rotten pastor take all available vacation time. Let's face it — you don't really want your pastor around anyway, so encourage him or her to take all the vacation in his or her letter of call. Make it easy for your rotten pastor to leave town. Line up volunteers so the pastor doesn't have to work extra hard before or after vacation. Offer your vacation home or a gift card for a plane ticket.

4) Speaking of getting your rotten pastor out of town .… Your pastor probably has continuing education time. Make sure that your pastor is attending events with exciting speakers, great preachers and innovative thinkers (you know, just so your pastor can see the ways in which he or she doesn't measure up). While you're at it, increase the continuing education budget — make sure there is no barrier to your pastor getting away from your congregation and to these events.

5) Take over the tasks with which your pastor struggles. We all know pastors should be good at everything — administration, preaching, visitation with the elderly and youth events. Chances are, your rotten pastor struggles in one or more of these areas. Hire an administrative assistant. Ask parents and volunteers to coordinate and host youth events. Ask volunteers to visit homebound members. There are all sorts of ways to make sure that your rotten pastor doesn't mess up the tasks with which he or she already struggles.

6) Encourage your pastor to spend more time in prayer and reading. Now that you have freed your pastor from all those tasks that were the worst trouble points, he or she has all sorts of extra time. You don't want your pastor to jump right back into those tasks and mess them up, do you? Encourage your pastor to read, or spend time with other pastors, or to intentionally spend more time in prayer.

It's foolproof! If you do these six things, I guarantee you will get rid of your rotten pastor. You will hear better sermons. People will feel better ministered to. Exciting ideas will start to come from your council meetings.I guarantee you will stop complaining about your rotten pastor without having to go through the search process and hire a new pastor. Take these six steps, and watch your rotten pastor become the sort of minister you have always wanted.


Ralph Stilwell

Ralph Stilwell

Posted at 4:18 pm (U.S. Eastern) 8/7/2012


# 7 Pretend to listen to your rotten pastor and discuss her or his rotten ideas for improvement of congregational life. Of course you know he or she has subnormal intelligence and very limited education and preparation for what is obviously an easy and simple job, but hear him or her out anyway, she or he might learn something from your wisdom, intelligence, and vast learning in his subject areas.

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