The Other Side of the Story: Pastors Hurt by Church

It’s not just church members who have been hurt by church. Pastors often are hurt by imperfect members. There’s plenty of imperfection to go around.

It’s not just church members who have been hurt by church. Pastors often are hurt by imperfect members.

There is a former pastor who started an amazing church in Tennessee. He has written multiple books and has seen God do amazing work. He built a church where “no perfect people are allowed.”

In 2016 he stepped down from the church he started because in his own words, “I’m tired. I’m broken.”

When I read about it I felt heartbroken.

I don’t want to see any pastor step down. I hate that he is hurting. I don’t have a lot of answers. I don’t know his full story. I’m sure there are things we will never know about what led to his decision.

The pastor did say, “Most of you in this church only experience what I do on Sundays, especially those of you who watch online. You just see me when I kind of come up here on Sundays, but the reality is as leader and the pastor of a church, what happens in between those Sundays is just as important and it requires a lot of leadership and it requires a lot of leadership energy. And leaders in any realm of life, leaders who lead on empty don’t lead well and for some time now I’ve been leading on empty.”

This came on the heels of another pastor I know who is going through intense personal struggles. It feels like everywhere I turn pastors who are helping broken people are becoming more broken themselves.

Just like it’s not the pastor’s fault if a church member sins, it is not a church member’s fault if a pastor struggles. With that in mind, I don’t think church people are responsible for a pastor’s struggle.

At the same time, I do believe there are things church members can do to support their pastor. It won’t mean a pastor won’t struggle. Pastors are imperfect humans. Just like if a pastor does everything he can it does not mean church members won’t struggle. But together I think pastors and church members can help each other.


The main emotion I felt when I read about pastors falling is fear. I want to retire a pastor. I want to have a ministry where I finish strong. I’m far from perfect. I make mistakes. I want to be able to learn from them., and continue to set up accountability.

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Rob Shepherd is the founding and lead pastor of Next Level Church in Yorktown, VA. He is the author of "You Misspelled Christian: How to Bring Heaven to Your Current Circumstances."