Inevitably, pastoral leaders with larger churches can’t keep up and end up disappointing people when they can’t get to every event any more.
Caring for 30 people personally is possible. Caring for 230 is not.
Many pastors burn out trying.
The pastoral care model most seminaries teach and most congregations embrace creates false and unsustainable expectations.
Consequently, almost everyone gets hurt in the process.
The pastor is frustrated that he or she can’t keep up. And the congregation is frustrated over the same thing.
Eventually the pastor burns out or leaves and the church shrinks back to a smaller number. If a new pastor arrives who also happens to be good at pastoral care, the pattern simply repeats itself; growth, frustration, burnout, exit.
It’s ironic. They very thing you’re great at (pastoral care) eventually causes your exit when you can no longer keep up.
Or, if you stay for a long time, your church settles down to around 100 people and you simply can’t grow it beyond that.
Why? Because, as I explain in some detail in my new book, Lasting Impact: Seven Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow, you haven’t structured bigger to grow bigger.
Complication 1: Pastors Who Won’t Let Go
Several other factors make pastoral care complicated.
Many pastors I know are people-pleasers by nature (if that’s you … read this). Wanting to not disappoint people fuels conflict within leaders: People want you to care for them, and you hate to disappoint them.
In some respect, pastoral care establishes classic co-dependency. The congregation relies on the pastor for all of its care needs, and the pastor relies on the congregation to provide their sense of worth and fulfillment: The pastor needs to be needed.