I’ve been pretty lucky in ministry. Over the years I’ve only had to fire a handful of staff and volunteers. It’s the least enjoyable part of my job but also one of the most important. And if you’re a pastor, it’s one of your most important jobs. Allowing a person to continue in a role that they shouldn’t be in is incredibly harmful to a church. I see this happen over and over again, especially in small town churches. This needs to stop.
If you’re a pastor who has the power to fire someone and you’re allowing this to happen, then you need to put your “big boy britches on” (Southern Term) and have that conversation.
If you’re a pastor serving in a church that doesn’t allow you to have that power, I feel your pain. Still, you need to do everything you can to convince everyone who needs convincing to let that person go.
If that still doesn’t work, your best bet is to try to convince them to quit. Worst-case scenario: it backfires on you, and you get fired. But hey, now you can go to a church that actually trusts its pastor to make decisions that are best for the church.
If you’re having trouble deciding on who should be fired, let me give you some people I would strongly consider.
1. The Troublemaker
This person always seems to be in the middle of drama. They create problems, instead of solutions. You constantly have to mediate between them and the latest person they ticked off. If it was one time, you can show them grace. If it’s ongoing, then you better fire them because I guarantee they’re running people off from the church.
2. The Big Talker
These people can talk the talk but never seem to walk the walk. They make promises they never keep. They may talk super spiritual, but they never actually get anything done. And they always have an excuse.
3. The Unqualified
I’m afraid the only qualification needed in many churches is popularity. When churches take it upon themselves to vote people into important positions within the church, we shouldn’t be surprised when they fail. It takes a lot more than being popular to lead a ministry. If they can’t or won’t do what’s required of the position, then they need to be fired.
4. The Faker
In the history of the church I serve, we’ve only had to fire one person because of character issues. That’s one more than I would’ve liked to. They put on a good show and a good face, and we fell for it. I wish we’d fired them at the first sign of character fail. Unfortunately, we gave them a second chance, and they failed again. You better be really careful with this one because not dealing with it early can come back to bite you.
5. The Unsocial
Ministry is relational at its core. Almost everything we do is for people, with people, and about people. If you don’t love people, you probably don’t need to be leading, because we’re in the people business.
6. The Entitled
Be leery of those who think they deserve a position. It could be because of their last name or because of the money they give to the church. They will cause you problems, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be the one looking for another church.
7. The Unteachable
Out of all of these, this one may bother me the most. Here’s why, I’ve had to let really good people go because they just refused to be teachable. People who had tons of potential but didn’t want to listen. I wish I could say that these people could change, but I don’t think they can. If you have someone on your team that doesn’t want to listen to anything you say, it’s best not to waste your breath and just let them go.
It’s not fun taking people out of a position that you may have put them in, but it’s necessary sometimes. In order for the church to grow, sometimes people have to go.
I am a husband, father, and executive pastor of a small town church that went big. I have a passion for helping pastors grow themselves and the churches they serve. You can find out more about me and my ministry at http://travisstephens.me