How to “Survive” Pastoring a Modern Church

3-Generation Senior Pastor Model

Pastor How

Pastor How

4-min read

Great, you’ve made it to advantage #7.
In my previous article, Pastor Lia and I gave 6 advantages or reasons why Heart of God Church is going into a 3-Generation Senior Pastor Model.

The 7th reason is that I believe one senior pastor will not be able to effectively lead the modern megachurch.
To be raw and real, one SP simply cannot “survive” leading the modern megachurch.

A Barna survey reports that 42% of pastors considered quitting in 2021.
The number 1 reason cited was stress on the job.
Number 2 was loneliness and isolation (that's why we want 5 SPs ).

This is not surprising. The scope and scale of a senior pastor’s job have increased dramatically over the years. In the past, a pastor’s job was simpler – preach, pray, marry, bury.
Then they had to become therapists and psychologists too.
With the growth of the megachurch, they became CEOs and motivational speakers.
Now in the 2010s and 2020s – they are social media influencers and YouTube content creators. After Covid, pastors had to get used to being in front of the camera. (While it is necessary, I personally prefer the good old days.) Just 10 years ago, you didn’t need an IT team, social media or production team. The online church didn’t exist.

The pressure also escalated. In the past, pastors didn’t have to deal with online attacks, haters and being canceled.

This is just on the church front. As pastors we know that the most important part is to give ourselves to the Word and prayer. To be a godly person of character and being a great spouse and parent.

It’s hard to be effective. If pastors focus on the global opportunities and ministry, the local church is neglected. If they focus on preaching and CEO duties, who will shepherd the sheep? Who will disciple? After all, Jesus did not call us to be motivational speakers and “social media influencer” isn’t one of the five-fold ministries.

Even if you found a super pastor with the abilities and gifts to do everything, it’s still too much pressure and stress. It’s impossible for one SP to handle it all. It is no wonder pastors are burning out, quitting or coping by escaping to unhealthy habits. No wonder there are so many scandals. The devil is using success to destroy the megachurch. And their families become casualties.

What is my solution? Team senior leadership.
Many organizations do have team leadership. Here I am talking about team leadership at the highest level – Senior Pastor. Instead of having a Superman, let’s assemble a Super Team. We share the load and also work in the area of our strengths. This way it is not only sustainable but also more effective.

Heart of God Church’s Senior Pastors

5 senior pastors leading the church together

When we share the responsibilities like this, we will still have the time and energy to love and serve the people. All these C-suite titles sound impressive, CEO, CLO, CPO, etc., but the greatest title is still being assistant to the CSO – Chief Shepherd Officer.

Even before the 3-Gen SP Model, we have always had 2 senior pastors – I thank God that Pastor Lia and I have been co-pastoring the church all these years. She not only led the youths and Worship Team, she was also in charge of church operations, discipleship, leadership development and many more.

Outreach Magazine Logo

Ministry for Two

Read more on Outreach Magazine about how Pastor How and Pastor Lia work together.

So going from 2 SPs to 5 is a natural next step. With the expanding scope and scale, we have expanded the team as well.

I have seen so many founding pastors struggle to find a successor. It’s not for the lack of effort but it takes a miracle to unearth a Super Pastor. It is much easier to assemble a Super Team.

Finally, a 3-Gen SP model means there is a Deep Bench of senior pastors.
HOGC will never find ourselves in a position where we have no senior pastor.
One or two SPs can go for a sabbatical.
In the worst-case scenario, if we lose an SP to sickness or scandal (God forbid), the other SPs will keep the House of God running and growing. In a sense, we are prepared for a leadership crisis.

We will never be so desperate that we have to put up ads on LinkedIn to recruit an SP.
The church will never have to experience the awkwardness of “auditioning” a new SP.
The church of God will never be left in a leaderless vacuum.
There will always be a senior pastor in the House!

1 Pastors Share Top Reasons They've Considered Quitting Ministry in the Past Year, published by Barna. Accessed on 13 June 2023.

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