Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Would You Attend Your Church if You Didn’t Work There?

Would You Attend Your Church if You Didn’t Work There?

Ever had almost the exact same conversation with three different people? I have. In the last couple of months, I’ve had three different pastors tell me the same thing: “If I weren’t on staff at my church, I don’t think it’s a church I’d attend.”


I’d like to say I’ve never been there, but that’s just not the case. I became a Christ-follower at age 15 and felt like God was calling me to be a pastor when I was 17. Immediately following high school, I started working at my first church as an intern.

Within a few months, I knew this was something I wanted to do with my life, so I started looking for a church that would allow me to serve in a pastoral role. I was willing to work at almost any church that would would give me a shot. I got church jobs, but by the time I was 27, I had experienced the pains of such an approach.

I had been on staff at four churches. Two of them were a great fit, two were not. The common denominator between the two where I was not a fit: Neither was a church I would have attended if given the choice.

This common denominator broke down into three categories.  

1. Style  

I didn’t like the ministry style, the musical style or even the teaching style of either church.  

2. Theology  

In one of the churches, I discovered a pretty major theological disconnect.

3. Mission  

In the other church, I found that I had serious issues with the way the church went about its mission.

After leaving those churches, I filed away my experiences under “stuff never to repeat.” I also realized these three critical issues could be addressed before ever accepting a staff position.

Things were better until later in my 30s when I worked at a church where I didn’t fit the staff culture well. I agreed with the church’s theology and mission. I loved the style of the church, but something was off.

I found myself in an environment where my boss tended to use a heavy-handed approach and negative pressure to push staff for results. He also wasn’t very open to new ideas or suggestions. Some people seemed to work well under his leadership … I did not.

So that was one more thing to add to the “stuff never to repeat” file: working where I don’t have chemistry.