Why Church Staff Change Churches

This week I’m excited to be starting a new job on the Executive and Teaching Teams at Sun Valley Community Church and because I’m going through this job transition I thought I’d repost this post on Staffing from the archives about why Church Staff change churches. And while this isn’t an exhaustive list, I think it’s a great place to start. So in no particular order, here is my top 10 list of “Why Church Staff Change Churches:”



1. They think bigger is better

Often Staff are enamored with a larger more attractive ministry down the street that seemingly offers them a greater opportunity for influence, personal development, name recognition, career advancement, a greater or broader impact, or better resources to do ministry.

2. They think the grass is greener on the other side

That is to say that they are in a perpetual search for the perfect church or Lead Pastor to serve under. Neither of which exist by the way. What they will end up discovering over time is that the real issue driving a lot of this is their own lack of personal contentment.

3. There was a poor interviewing and hiring process

Let’s be honest with one another for a moment. Most churches don’t have a great process in place for hiring people. Often Staff have been set up to fail from day one by the churches that hire them because they should have never been hired or placed in that particular role in the first place. They simply lack the chemistry, character, competency, or a host of other “C” words they need to do the job.

4. They are offered more pay and better benefits to go somewhere else

Has this every happened to you? After I left a church that I was working for they actually ended up paying the next guy more to replace me than what they were paying me. I wondered, what if I had quit and reapplied for the job, would they have given me the same raise? It is rightly said that the best people in an organization will always go out on their own two feet. You may not like the bottom line, but if you don’t pay your top performers someone else will.

5. There is no vision or they don’t agree with the vision

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation. Someone (usually in a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chair role) thinks that God has called them to speak for the Lord and help their poor Lead Pastor understand that it is time for the vision to change because they don’t agree with it. And they are just the person who has come down off of the mountain with the new blueprint for where the church should go next. Or on the other hand the vision is so unclear that people have a hard time understanding how to define success in their job, which leads to frustration, which leads to burnout. Either route you take you end up with a lot of frustration and an eventual job change.

6. They just can’t cut it and actually do the job at the required level

As a church grows often times if you are not careful the rate of growth can outpace the growth and development of the staff. Like shifting sand, the job description for your role literally can change and all of the sudden you can find yourself being asked to do things that you weren’t being asked to do 3 years ago.

7. They don’t feel appreciated

Often times very talented people simply are not put in the right seat on the bus. They are placed in a role that doesn’t allow them to use their gifts, abilities, and play to their strengths. As a result they never get groomed or developed for the next challenge, they only get frustrated. Sadly many people in this situation are left feeling as though their boss or the organization they work in doesn’t care about them. That they want something out of them or from them instead of something for them. The only thing more demotivating than not feeling as though you are making a real contribution in the work you’re doing is not feeling like your supervisor believes you’re the person to get the work done. Not feeling appreciated leads to going somewhere else where you do.

8. Conflict with their boss or other people

It’s tough to give your all to an organization when you don’t get along with the people you work with, where there is personality conflict with your boss, or you simply don’t like the people in the office. It’s important to remember that chemistry matters.

9. They get fired or downsized

This isn’t the most motivating, inspiring, or exciting way to leave a church. In fact it’s can be incredibly hurtful, humiliating, and even scary. But it is clear.

10. It’s God’s will

If you know God is calling you to something else, then that’s a great reason to leave a church. But you better be pretty sure that it was God you heard talking and not the pizza you had at 2:00am before you start waving around the “God wills it” card.


So in your opinion why do you think Church Staff change churches? When is it okay to go, and when should you stick it out? Leave a comment below.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing

8 Responses to “Why Church Staff Change Churches”

  1. Erin Crawford May 3, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Hey Paul!

    I think you hit the nail on the head with one. I did my internship at a church and didn’t really enjoy it. I was glad I was leaving for reasons 5,7, and 8. It made me leery of wanting to work for a church again but I’m not completely opposed. I’m also not one to think bigger is always better. The main thing for me though was feeling unappreciated (granted I was an intern) and also not meshing well with my “boss” (we just very different personalities). This was also a pretty big church. I really enjoyed reading this since I’m graduating this weekend and starting the hunt. Miss you guys so much, best of luck grin


  2. Tim Parker May 3, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Paul, I believe your 10 reasons are sound and right on. Here are a couple of thoughts as well.
    Step one – consider why you want to leave and see if they are valid reasons. Look inside more than outside.
    Step two – if they are valid reasons, pray for God’s guidance and timing.
    Step three – learn from the past. There’s only one common denominator in our lives, us. Do a gut check and see if there’s a habit developing that may need attention. (An extension of Step one)
    Step four – praise God no matter what! Nothing happens without God allowing it or orchestrating it. He will place you and I where He wants us and for how long He wants us there.

    In ministry, it’s easy to want to be everything to everybody…..because we care….but we can get completely worn or burnt out. It can be difficult to remember, our job as a pastor isn’t to do everything, but it’s to make sure everything gets done that we’re responsible for. It’s that growth thing that involves God, us and others……challenging at times yes, but necessary.

    God closes and opens doors much of our lives and leaves us in the dark hallway sometimes longer than we’d like…..but, this is where God does His best work.

    Paul, welcome aboard and congratulations on your appointment to the Family of Sun Valley Community Church…. a truly unique group of staff that are dependent believers on Jesus Christ.

    Tim Parker –

  3. Tim Parker May 4, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Ward, so true. Philippians 4:12-13 (The Message) comes to mind 12I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. 13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

  4. paul alexander May 4, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    Don’t let a rough internship deter you from chasing after what God has designed you for! Be wise, discerning, and prayerful in the interview process. The Church is worth it! So proud of you!

  5. paul alexander May 4, 2011 at 5:28 am #

    Tim and Ward –
    GREAT input! I’d agree, a decision to leave a church should NEVER be taken lightly. Unfortunately most staff look more at what is happening around them than what is happening in them in a process like this. BTW this top 10 list is just that, a top 10 list. I don’t think that every reason is a legit reason to leave. #9 & #10 are the only sure fire reasons to go…however God can use #’s 1-8 along the way.

  6. Ward Townsend May 4, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Tim makes EXCELLENT points! Might I suggest an alternate order? Steps 4, 3, 1, 2… I especially like Step 4 “Praise God no matter what! Nothing happens without God allowing it or orchestrating it. He will place you and I where He wants us and for how long He wants us there…” Since this is true, I try to filter steps 1-3 through that process. In my flesh, being disrespected, mistreated, under-paid (or UNpaid), yelled at and blamed wrongfully, etc may all be viewed as “valid reasons” for leaving a position. However when I realize that FATHER has placed me there I am faced with the question “WHY has HE placed/allowed me here in THIS situation?” I believe more times than not we go through difficult situations because Papa is trying to get us to see US. Instead we look around at others and try to escape what is painful, so next we should follow Tim’s Step 3 and look INSIDE and ask Father to reveal what “plank” we might have that we are seeing in others (Matt 7:4-5). When we get past Step 4 then Step 3 we are in a better place for Step 1 and 2 and to evaluate whether God is showing us it is time to move on or not and how to go about that. My wife and I have been in churches where we have had differences of doctrine, and Father has said to stay, and we did until He finally released us and we were blessed for our obedience. We have been in churches where we have had insignificant differences and Father has asked us to leave, and we did and we were blessed for our obedience. We have learned that God can and will use circumstances to HELP guide, but ultimately we have to take those circumstances to God HIMSELF for HIS interpretation of their meaning… after all, HE IS the ONE in control, right? : )

  7. Brian Stankich May 5, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Way to put it out there, Paul. Similar to number 3, Christian organizations can be disorganized. They sometimes don’t have their act together.

    Another reason is that often organizations, even Christian, don’t sufficiently value the people God has given to them. They take them for granted. This leads to a feelings of a lack of appreciation, but deeper than that, employees can see through systems and leaders to realize that the words and the actions are not in alignment.

  8. paul alexander May 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Brian –
    I agree, there may be no faster way to lose team members than to not value them. First you lose their heart, then you lose their presence! Great thought!

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