Can You Help a Church Find a Preacher Who Isn’t Lazy?

I received this question from a friend:

Can you help this church find a preacher who isn’t lazy? The last three have been lazy.

My Reflections — What do you mean by lazy?

I would be lazy compared to my early years of preaching.

In my 20s and 30s, I worked sixty to eighty hours a week and was rarely home at night. This wasn’t the elders’ fault. I thought this was what I needed to do. I often taught more than one personal work training class weekly and had home Bible studies. I visited the hospital daily, sat with families during surgery, visited nursing homes and shut-ins every month, and called on all visitors to services. I printed, folded, addressed, and mailed the bulletin early in my ministry.

This wasn’t good for me, Gail, or my children. I have apologized to them and asked them to forgive me.

When a good, balanced preacher follows someone like that, he would appear to be lazy.

From my observations, many members want an overworking preacher.

Here are the results from five of my interim congregations. About half the people answering this question prefer a preacher who “Gives whole self to the life of church and work as minister” rather than one who “Maintains a private life of family, friends, recreation and personal/professional development.”

We need to teach the church and the preachers that preachers, plumbers, teachers, doctors, and people in every other profession must have adequate time for family, rest, and recreation. My elders talked with me and encouraged (told) me to take more family time.

Here are copies of the results of question # 40 of the congregational survey:

Three in a row

If they’ve had three lazy preachers in a row, it isn’t a lazy preacher problem. It’s a selection problem.

Are you comparing him to the previous preacher who has been there twenty years and built strong relationships with most in the church? There’s no way someone can develop relationships that quickly. That’s one reason to have an interim. The general rule is a church will have one or more short-term preachers after a long-term preacher.

The last three lazy preachers didn’t get lazy when they crossed the state line coming to your town. Check references: Do a criminal background check and a credit check. While reviewing my files, I read the results of my FBI and TBI checks an interim church ran on me today.

A church should check all the references listed by the preacher and the same number of other people he didn’t give. You get those from the listed ones or from others who know him. During the reference check, ask, “Who else could give us helpful information about the man?”

Here’s a suggested checklist for talking with references: Reference Interview Form .

Don’t blame the preacher you selected for selecting him.

You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

2 Responses to “Can You Help a Church Find a Preacher Who Isn’t Lazy?

  • Daniel Camp
    1 month ago

    Jerry, thanks for posting this. This is much needed. In my first full time ministry, I got back from a vacation and was talking about how it was much needed when an elder commented “I haven’t had a vacation in 8 years.” He was surprised when rather than praising him for that, I told him “And I bet your wife isn’t happy about that.” At another church where I was trying out, an elder there who worked 70+ hours a week in a self-owned business said he expected me to work equal hours thru the week in the church office and then do another 10+ hours a week “just like any other volunteer at church would.” Needless to say, I decided against going there even though they offered me the job. The other elders couldn’t understand why I passed on the job.

    • Danny, Thank you for taking time to confirm the issue. You did a good job of defining your values. I went several years blaming others for my overwork. I finally realized it was my choice and wasn’t a good choice.