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What to Do When Your Pastor Isn't On Board

A question that I’ve been asked a lot recently is:

“What do I do if my pastor is not on board?”

It’s a question that usually stems from frustration. Most church employees that ask me this question want change, and they feel like their pastor won’t support it. It can feel like he:

Just doesn’t get it.
Is stubborn in his ways.
Doesn’t like you as an individual.

But, the truth can be much deeper than that. Most times, a pastor won’t get on board because he’s been burned. Someone has broken his trust. He might also refuse to get behind your idea because the risk is too large. Or he might not want to get behind the idea because it’s just not that great.

No matter the reason, there are really only three ways you should react. When your pastor does not get on board, you need to make sure you respond by:

PRAYING FOR HIM

Your pastor has a large burden to carry. He is leading the community and facing a lot of challenges. There are big decisions he needs to make.

Pray that God guides him and protects him from evil. If you have something big to ask, pray that he hears your request. When you pray for your pastor, you are asking God to become a part of the relationship.

ASKING, “HOW CAN I SERVE YOU TODAY?”

When you ask your pastor, “How can I serve you?” it communicates that you care about him. A leader that feels supported by the staff is going to return the favor. The more you ask that question, the more he will get on board with your ideas.

Not only does this question communicate that you care, it gives you insight on what he is facing. He’ll not only see you as a trusted ally but someone wiling to invest in the church. Ask this question daily.

HONORING HIS AUTHORITY

If your pastor says “no” or refuses to get on board, respect his decision. It might not seem fair, but your respect for his decision will go far. When you honor your pastor’s authority, you build trust in the relationship. Even though it might be tempting to complain behind his back, don’t. You need to earn his trust. In the end, he will allow you to influence up.

When your pastor refuses to get on board, do not freak out. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn more about what he is facing. Influence up by showing him that you are loyal, trustworthy and concerned for his needs. In the end, the relationship you have with him will grow stronger.  

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Chris graduated from Xavier University in 2003 with a BA in Communications: Electronic Media. He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time, he was a Case Manager at Chase Brexton, met his wife Kate and felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004, he was hired by the Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Minister. Today he oversees grades 5-12 as the Director of Student Ministry.