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10 Reasons Your Church Is Losing Leaders

For some pastors and church leaders, these are difficult times. Over the last several months, some very talented leaders whom you relied on greatly have left your church.

You have tried to rationalize it, but deep down you know it could have been prevented. Going through your mind are meetings which did not go well, little hints dropped, things said, poor attitudes and unexplained absences. All the puzzle pieces are in place. Things now make sense. You should have seen it coming but are now left to make plans moving forward, hoping to make up for their absence.

If you have been in church leadership long enough, you have experienced this. Could it have been prevented? Were there warning signs? Read the following list, and perhaps next time you can proactively retain your best and brightest leaders.

The following are 10 Reasons Your Church Is Losing Leaders:

  1. Lack of Vision—Leaders are attracted to vision. If your church’s vision lacks clarity or is not compelling in nature, top leaders may choose to follow a different vision.
  2. Unrealistic Goals—There is a difference between a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and a Big Crazy Audacious Goal (BCAG). Leaders know the difference. When faced with a BCAG, leaders become apathetic and simply roll their eyes or literally throw their hands up in the air.
  3. Dysfunctional Leadership—There is limited potential in organizations where the executive leadership lacks unity. When this environment exists, top leaders know there is a lack of sustainability and longevity to be had. They will go elsewhere seeking healthier options.
  4. Kings Talk to Kings—Relationships matter. If leaders with influence are leaving your team, others will follow.
  5. False Starts—Have broken promises or unfulfilled expectations compounded in your church over time? If so, trust is lost and leaders will join churches with leadership that consistently delivers.
  6. Early Adopters—You can’t leapfrog leaders. When leaders are not brought in early during the development of projects and initiatives, they intuitively know their thoughts and skills are not needed. They will leverage their talents in alternative areas where they can make a difference.
  7. Marginalization—When the opinions of leaders are dismissed, they become exceedingly frustrated. An exasperated phrase you hear during this stage is, “They’re never going to get it!” They will go somewhere where they do.
  8. Lack of Opportunity—Often leaders outgrow their position. If they want additional responsibility or roles with significance, leaders will seek out and explore those possibilities.
  9. Dismissed—High-capacity leaders do not desire position but rather influence. Ignoring or dismissing their ideas insults leaders. Specifically, when financial leaders or skilled artists are ignored, they will move on to where their giftedness and influence can be properly leveraged.
  10. Ungratefulness—Everyone likes to be told they’re pretty. Always tell top leaders “Thank You!” Even leaders are starving for appreciation.

My hope for you is to not only continue to attract leaders to your church but also retain the ones you currently have. And don’t forget to tell them “Thank You.”  

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Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.