Question: Our student ministry has developed a reputation as “the mean girls group.” Two families told me they didn’t join our church because their teenagers felt unwelcome. How can I confront this attitude?
Answer: This is obviously a spiritual problem and most likely involves a ringleader. The pastor and student ministry leader (beginning with prayer) need to have a meeting with the leader in question, as well as with her parents. Come prepared with documented accusations, and explain the church is already losing families over the group’s behavior.
Be prepared for the corrective action to result in the ringleader and family leaving the church, unless a fair and equitable solution is reached.
Question: A seminary professor of mine said, “If it looks like you’re pastoring a parade, well, you are.” But I take it personally every time someone leaves the church. How can I get over this feeling of failure?
Answer: Denominational loyalty hardly exists in the 21st century. Also, families are much more mobile these days. Because of those factors and others, church members come and go. Many pastors fail to realize that just to remain plateaued, they must see 15-20% growth every year. That percentage simply replaces members that have moved, changed churches, or passed away.
No matter why a person leaves it hurts a pastor who loves them. You are not a failure! You are simply serving in a very difficult calling.
Pat Pajak is IBSA’s associate executive director for evangelism.