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Should a retiring Pastor stay in the church he just retired from?

Our Pastor is retiring after 30+ years, serving the same congregation. He & his wife (very used to "running things")plan to stay in the area (the church has gifted them the parsonage). IS IT ADVISABLE FOR HIM TO ATTEND THE CHURCH HE IS RETIRING FROM? Many feel this would be unfair to the new Pastor coming in... not allowing him freedom to make changes with the previous Pastor & his wife still in the congregation.

Would appreciate any input you might have!

Comments for Should a retiring Pastor stay in the church he just retired from?

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You have no idea: Pastors have feelings too
by: Just RETIRED Pastor

I just recently retired after 22 years as senior pastor. My family stayed and is helping, but believe me, they are not there to support me. They are looking forward to the next pastor.

But me? This beloved pastor is out… come Sunday morning I am very much seeking local churches and have not found a place… my grandchildren are at my old church.

Love the former pastor, be kind if they live in the same town, and as they respectfully stay away know it is hurting them to be on the outside of their friends and church family they so faithfully served. Pastors have feelings too.

Founding Pastors
by: Anonymous

What about Founding Pastors who stay at the church after retiring? He and his wife "must" stay because they founded the ministry. Worshipping at another church would almost seem hypocritical! And yet, it’s a challenge to be there every Sunday and not still try to run things. Please comment.

Elders wife
by: Anonymous

Not a good idea to have a retiring pastor stay in the same church. It happened to mine and it turned into a disaster. A lot of people left and followed him when he did finally leave after almost a year. It caused a lot of bad feelings amongst the congregation and confusion and upset the new pastor and his wife quite a bit while they were trying to shepherd the church.

by: Anonymous

I am living this and it is dividing the church. For the sake of the Church -- leave (and take your family with you). Your successor will thank you and your gifts will be warmly received in a new place.

Current situation
by: Anonymous

I am currently serving a church for six years in a similar situation. Recently, a former Pastor started attending worship on a regular basis. The former Pastor treats me with love and respect. Unfortunately, it has caused a division within the congregation because half of the church are related to the former Pastor and the other half left during his tenure at the church over conflict and returned later after he retired. Long story short, the division has became so challenging for me to deal with, I am planning on leaving. So what was once a healthy congregation is no more. I will just leave it at that!

Think in out, please
by: Anonymous

Our retired pastor was at the church for 14 years. He’d been asked to leave his last church which he did in coming to ours. The ones who brought him to our church should have investigated exactly "why" he left the last church. Unfortunately we now know the answer to that one! The pastor wasn’t the issue-his wife was the problem all along. She ruled him, and ultimately us, with a tight fist.

Our congregation of 36 people diminished to 8 attendees because of the wife’s criticisms of those who left. Had he not decided to retire on his own, he would have been asked to "retire" and take his wife with him!

If they want to "visit" in the future, we would need to really "think" about it before we’d allow it. Their presence could very well chase away the 20+ people who’ve returned since "retirement" took effect. That would not help us regrow membership.

Is not working currently
by: Anonymous

Our congregation is experiencing this right now with an interim pastor. He is bringing excellent growth and new ideas to the church. Problem I have seen and not being addressed here is even some of the church leadership elders and deacons long for the former retired Pastor who is still in attendance and have not moved on or embraced change we are now at the 6-month mark. I feel for the interim Pastor as he is not really being given a chance to succeed and it is causing division among members.

My Pastor
by: Anonymous

I believe that when a Pastor retire, he is ready to give up any connection he has with the church and allow the entering Pastor to acquaint himself with the congregation. As much as possible he should not be seen in the church where he retired.
Specially so if he has been in the church for a longer period of time,as the Pastor and the Leadership in the church includes his family holding major positions.It would be good if he leaves the church and allow the new Pastor change the Leadership being now the Chairman of the Board.This way there is more freedom and peace for the new Pastor to learn, & be accepted by the congregation.

Elders wife
by: Anonymous

We have a situation where the retired pastor and his wife want to continue coming to the church and not giving our current pastor, who has only been pastor about a month, time to connect with the congregation. They say it's because the retired pastor has some health issues and he needs the support of his former congregation. Which is true. They live in the area and about half the church still supports them and is causing a division in the church. This is due to the fact that He and his wife have weekly gatherings with their supporters as they continue to "act as pastors" to their followers. The former pastor has never even asked our new pastor or the elders, who are in charge, if this decision of theirs is okay with them. Totally confused and have lost a lot of respect for him to to his conduct and his selfishness in this matter.

Challenges on the both sides...
by: Anonymous

I have taken over a 27 years old church, the previous pastor stayed with no taking a break, from the following Sunday previous pastors were present in our congregation, which made things very challenging...leaders were looking to the previous pastor for directions still, he kept his former office and gave his opinion on song choices, seating arrangements to volunteers here and there, remained preaching here and there as requested. I saw a real struggle on the previous pastor's side to "let go" as it seems that there was an identity issue. To the best ability, tried to give grace and accommodate but it just does not work and brings confusions to the congregation. So, my choice - I had to walk away. The idea of "family" is there, but if the previous pastor is not letting go and his identity is in the role of "the pastor", then staying in the same church cannot work... As a believer, I feel we should be able to work it through in unity if we all leave our pride and insecurity at the feet of Jesus.

Church family & Pastor retiring
by: Anonymous

If your church isn’t family, then, in my opinion, you’re in the wrong church. When our pastor retired, he and his wife continued to care for the members. After a long time of having interim pastors, my church hired a man who hardly lifts a finger to care for the members or even get to know them., but still it is the previous pastor and his wife who continue to care for their church family. It is nothing expected of them. It is because they love God and their friends. Asking a longtime pastor and his family to leave is more like the behavior of some large corporation whose new leader feels threatened by the previous person in his position. But we are talking about. church, not a corporation. Jealousy, and power of position have no place in a church. If the current pastor is intimidated by the retiring one even before letting some time pass, then I say he is the wrong pastor for a church.

I think my Dad should move on to another church.
by: Pastor's Adult Daughter

First, I love my dad but after 30+ years, he is having trouble letting go! I get it, the congregation is like family as he has ministered to a few generations. But, even though he isn't attending anywhere due to health issues and covid, a couple of the busy bodies call him to report on the ministers actions. I have specifically asked them to stop doing this and have asked the same of my dad! How can a new pastor and the church thrive with this type of behavior? It can't!

When I am able to take him to church, he is going to be very upset with me because I will not be taking him to his old church. (He no longer drives) I truly feel in my heart that it would be a bad, bad idea for him to mix with those busy bodies! It will only hurt the church and the new pastor who is doing a wonderful job!

No I don't think he should come to the church
by: Anonymous

It may hurt the new pastor, give the new pastor time to run the church the way God has told him to do.

Senior Pastor MUST Retire Properly
by: Sheila D.

My husband and I have been associates for 28 years on staff with the Senior Pastor who is 71. Last year he made us the offer that he would go part-time, and keep a small wage and an office in the church. He proposed to hand over 80 percent of his work load and would still attend the church to "help" us. We respectfully declined and suggested that would not work for us. We are now making plans to move into the next phase of ministry that God has for us. Thank you so much to ALL the Pastors who have spoken the truth in love on this topic. I feel we have avoided a huge mess! God bless you!!

by: Anonymous

My husband has been the Associate Pastor in the same church for 28 years. Recently, the 71 year old founder and Senior Pastor said he wanted to retire. After he explained his plan, it involved handing over 80 percent of his work load to us. He would still have an office and come to the church part-time. He suggested that we essentially co-Pastor. We respectfully declined the offer. It was made clear they would remain in the congregation and would always attend. That way they could "help" us when we needed advice. Needless to say we will resigning in three more years. Thank you to all the Pastors who have posted the truth about what it is like to try to minister in a situation like this. You have spared us a lot of pain and I am grateful.

Is it really Christian to boot out a retired pastor??
by: Anonymous

My pastor stayed after retiring, and has served in the congregation as any other member of the church family. Originally, he and his wife did take some time away because he felt it was best, but he made it clear that when they came back, he would stay only if people didn’t look to him as pastor. A second pastor has now retired, but was asked to stay away for an extended time. I find it abominable that the assumption is that he would not be able to bow out of church leadership without giving him a chance to prove he can. This pastor and his wife were friends to all of us, and part of our church family, and they were hurt to think people didn’t want them around. At least give these pastors the chance to prove they won’t interfere where they shouldn’t. If a new pastor lets that be such a problem, maybe he’s not listening to God’s leading for what he should be doing, and/or not mature enough for the job. I don’t feel it’s Christian thinking. After all, it’s God’s church; no one else’s.

Different Perspective
by: Anonymous

Let me give a little different perspective. I retired after pastoring the same congregation for 20 years. For 20 years I stood in front of the congregation week after week and talked about our church family. It actually seemed like a Biblical concept to me. I got up in the middle of the night when their children had a car accident. I was in the emergency room, held them and prayed over them when their loved one passed away. We shared meals with each other. I never realized until I retired-that they were a family, but I was never part of the family. The hurt of finding that out was immeasurable. It's taken some time to heal, but I am better. Unfortunately, I am still suspect of any Christian who talks about "The family of God". Let me just leave it there.

Where is the sense of family?
by: Anonymous

Reading these comments make me sad. A church is supposed to be a family, a place where we support one another, encourage one another in the faith, and in life. I have been a missionary daughter, a pastors wife, and the owner of a company which I have now turned over to the next generation. In any setting, if we respect one another and walk in humility, these things would not even be an issue.

Not a good idea
by: Anonymous

I pastored for 26 years before assuming a role as a denominational staff member. It never occurred to me to keep my membership at my last pastorate.

Over the years I have seen this turn into a nightmare for pastors and churches. Even if the pastor and wife are great supporters of the new leadership there are too many other factors.

For instance I have seen situations when the new pastor hit his first obstacle (regardless of what it might be) where people run to the old pastor for advice, complaints and just to rant.

I pastored a church one time where I had two former pastors who remained members. Both loved me and supported me. Both would be there for me when I needed advice and mentoring. Both would even offer their advice to me unsolicited (sometimes relevant and sometimes not).

Bottom line: Go somewhere else. It is just a good thing.

Need to leave-even if you think you don’t think you need to
by: Anonymous

My husband is a pastor. The retiring pastor did his obligatory 6 months away and promptly returned. His wife never left. It was a nightmare. At one time (since we live in the retirement Mecca of the country) there were six retired pastors in our relatively small church. Some offered a little advice and others offered helping hands but none other than the congregation’s previous Pastor undermined the health of the congregation by perpetually working behind the scenes to stir the pot.

It was really the most difficult time of our lives. We had children in school and did not want to uproot them and move plus my husband did not want to leave the church in it’s divided state so we stuck it out. It took a while and after the previous pastor passed away and utilizing resources from our Bishop and his team on conflict resolution ... the congregation was thriving and strong. took a definite toll on our lives. I don’t think it’s EVER a good idea for a pastor to stay. One pastor in his post stated he felt he would be the exception to the rule because he has a good relationship with his associate and that he had already begun turning things over to him. fair to your associate, be fair to your congregation and most of all be fair to yourself and your family. Go and begin a fresh new chapter in your life where you will not even be tempted to reach out in a way that could be misunderstood. My husband’s true and full ministry never began until the other Pastor died. And yes, his wife remained a little disruptive, not by her personality, she was delightful, her mere presence continued to foster a sense of division. All this time, all the energy spent in putting out fires etc could have been spent on other things. Don’t stay!!

by: Anonymous

The previous pastor should be wise and leave!
The truth is, every pastor has his own personality, ideas, method of preaching, philosophy of ministry, likes, and dislikes.

To stay will only cause frustration in the heart of the previous pastor and inevitably in the heart of the new pastor, no matter how humble and kind they strive to be.

The new pastor will discover the faults of the previous pastor and the previous pastor will be bothered by new changes implemented by the new pastor.

This procedure is clearly understood and practiced in business, politics, and sports. Typically, a retired CEO or manager of a business doesn't hang around under the new CEO or manager. A previous U.S. president doesn't hang around the white house when a new president is sworn in. A baseball coach does not retire and sit in the dugout with the players under a new coach. The world understands the awkwardness in staying why doesn't the Christian church understand it?

Lest I should be accused of holding up my argument through the world's philosophy, consider those Biblical examples. Biblically, I find the model of the old leader distancing himself (or) God distancing them. Moses and Joshua. Elijah and Elisha. Jesus and his disciples. The Apostle Paul and the new elders of his church plants.

One could go into many other arguments. I will rest my case there. Hope some will find it a help!

by: David

After reading most of the comments in relation to the above post, it appears most incoming pastors are finding it dreadful to accommodate the retired pastor. You need to involve the board of elders to help you handle him since both of you are under the leadership of that board. Youshould realise dealing with life of retirement has its own challenges especially if the pastor has served in this church for a very long time. He needs counselling so that he is helped to let go. Lkke in my situation where i live within the same town, some of the church members have been long time friends. I am part of this family. I go to church like any other member. I gave up my office over two years ago to my associate. He is doing well. Also note that some pastors retire and dont know ehat else they should do. You cant tell him to relocate to another place for he may not have the resources. He is used to the routine of wake up, go to office, come back home etc. He has been shit up to the rest of the world for the last 30 or so years. To break this routine he needs a counselor. But some of us who have been busy either in ministries beyond our church, have other activities we are involved in; i find it a blessing that i have now been retired and not tied to the local church. I clocked 65 years June 22nd this year and i am grateful i have been released by the leadership to retire. With all that i have at hand to do in the wider ministry, i have no time to get entangled in the local church again. Its up to the new pastor to consult me if he so wishes or not. I am relieved. Let the old me go in peace. please don't push them, get other old men to counsel them so that they let go, otherwise they may die soon.

I am living it.
by: Anonymous

I am pastoring now at a church where the former pastor of 15 years still attends with his wife. Since starting at the church, the former Pastor has told me that my preaching is "too evangelical", has said that he can’t believe that the district just put me there indicating that he thinks that the schooling I have taken wasn’t good enough and he went on visitation without me knowing where the person was intentionally behind my back to make me look bad. The former pastors wife has yelled at me for keeping inside doors open on Sunday morning before service while I was greeting people. Everyone else seems to love my preaching but the former pastor is very critical and the only one so far who hasn’t had anything positive to say about my preaching or ministry. There are several churches in the area of the same denomination and even ones that are closer to where he and his wife live. I have been in situations before where I worked alongside other pastors and we supported one another but to be in a church where the former pastor and wife are my biggest critics is sometimes a challenging situation. I would never ask them to leave but them being there definitely makes the situation harder.

by: Anonymous

The pastor that has recently retired or resigned should not even make a visit to the field. I've been in the ministry 60 years and i never visited ( unless 10 or 15 years have past)

New Pastor in a Mess w Former
by: Anonymous

We served as youth pastors and then associate pastors of our church. The former senior pastor retired and with joy asked us to become senior pastors. Now, 4 years later, we cannot move a table out of a room without the former senior pastor and still current elder bucking, demanding a meeting and full explanation as to why we want to change somethings. We have preached in some of the harshest lands in the world and not had as much trouble as we have because of this situation. Let me say this. It takes God's anointing to be called to pastor. When a pastor "retires" and the anointing is gone, flesh remains. His constant determination for us to walk in his vision, his ways, and follow his rules, has nearly destroyed the work before us. PLEASE respect the call of the new pastors and leave. PLEASE do not hinder the whole body by staying because what worked for you, is likely not the same work the new pastors are called to do. Remember... building anything means adding a new piece on top of an old. PLEASE stop keeping new pastors from adding a new piece to God's work...even if you don't like what the new piece looks like or if you don't think it should be built on. Move into your new season!

It's tough to have dual pastors
by: Anonymous

I'm in that tough situation of following a pastor of 27 years who still lives in the parsonage. He was asked to step down but never had to even give up his keys. He actually was in my office at least once until we changed the locks. Our church was on the verge of financial collapse and we were able to avoid that. We are trying to undergo revitalization but his influence in the church is very strong. We have had 17 baptisms in our first year, and half of those were over 30. Yet with all this, the previous pastor has influence and sometimes I wonder if our church has two pastors. The funny thing is, he is supplying at another rural church. I do all the visiting and setting with the dying members, in the end, he is asked to do the funerals and I usually find out second hand. I will tell you as long as our church is living in the past, it will be tough to revitalize. In the end, if I was told the previous pastor was asked to leave and was allowed to stay, I would never have come.

NO ! He needs to leave permanently or at least temporarily
by: Anonymous

Should a retiring Pastor stay in the church he just retired from? NO.

In 40 years of ministry I have never personally witnessed or heard of a successful transition resulting when a long-term pastor remains after having officially resigned. It causes problems...period. Read the other posts...the horror stories.

Church members are still human, they're still sinful by nature even if they are genuine Christians and will tend to gravitate to this former long-term minister.

The resigning pastor should learn to step out of the way by faith and understand that the church does NOT belong to him. He should not be stubborn, selfish or insensitive.

Pastor Disaster
by: Anonymous

We made the grave mistake of thinking we could bring in a young 32 year old assistant pastor with the 82 year old senior pastor's mentoring. The senior pastor's wife has gone off the rails, orchestrating a slander campaign against the new pastor and his wife. If we had the foresight we would've sent the elderly pastor and his entire family away for at least 1 year.

Please Do Not Stay
by: Anonymous

Pastors retiring need to move on to the next season in their life. Their season of pastoring a particular church is over. A new pastor needs to begin his season God has called him to. Church members get attached to their pastor and become comfortable talking to him. When a retiring pastor remains in the congregation many members will continue to seek council from him and that is not fair to the new pastor. I would also recommend any associate staff that are long time staffers of the retiring pastor change churches as well. The longer they have been there the more tendency they have to 'advise' the incoming pastor on how 'we do things'.

I'm the new pastor
by: Pastor Joe

I'm the new guy at our small rural church. The former pastor (the founder of the congregation) retired due to health reasons. We worked for several months to make a smooth transition, and he took about two months away from the church before coming back. He is good friends with many of the families in the church, and his own family is heavily involved in the ministries within the church.

I notice that people still will go to him, not because he was their pastor, but because he is their friend. I can't imagine this would change if he wasn't attending, and it's possible many of these families would follow to wherever he would end up if he left the church.

It can be frustrating at times, but if we are truly called to pastor, I believe God will use us. It may be difficult to watch people continue to go to the old pastor, but I'm encouraged to take the same amount of time and care to build relationships as he did over the 16 or so years since he founded the congregation.

A lesson learned the hard way!!!
by: Anonymous

I have just taken my first church and have made the utter mistake of asking the former associate, who was the acting pastor as they searched for a new pastor,to be my associate right off the bat. This has all but ruined our friendship and created the worst 2 years of my christian experience. People have gone to him out of habit, he continually tries to correct a thing or two about what I see as bible, he has dug in as the maintenance man and has such a "little man" complex all he does is brag his insight up and comes across as high and mighty. Don't get me wrong, he means the best intentions and everyone loves him (so to speak), yet his presence is destroying me, my push to do anything worthwhile, and has caused damage to my marriage as I seem to complain about it weekly (at least). If I knew this info before I would have asked him to leave for at least 1 year. The only thing good about this is he's a good musician and it's great to have him there if I can't be at church anytime.

David, about to retire--READ THIS!
by: Anonymous

Do not stay. Your comments include many shoulds. You would be a nightmare for the next pastor if you think you know best how he SHOULD do HIS calling. It's his not yours. Go, go, go.

No, based on personal experience
by: pastor's wife

My husband agreed to allow the former pastor to rejoin the congregation. It was a huge mistake. Over the 6 years of his ministry, the former pastor and his wife have been openly critical and have stirred up dissension behind the scenes. It has been a nightmare. They still act as thought they are in charge and know what's right and wrong and best for the church. It has undermined my husband's authority among the membership. We have no recourse except to leave because calling them out would create chaos in the church. Never, ever again, no matter how nice he seems in the beginning.

The out going Pastor should 'let go' and stay.
by: David

I am a pastor just about to retire and was wandering what to do after. stay in the church or move to another. you know there is this thing of family attachment we are all aware of, how do i just cut myself from my family? Certainly this will affect myself, my wife and my children. In my case I have been working with my Associate Pastor for now two years and slowly by slowly have been relinquishing most of my duties to him. It has been a smooth relationship. He is doing most of the work. I have actually been working myself out of the job. I see many people go to him instead of coming to me because over time i keep telling them to go to him and consult with him over the matter. i think the main problem comes when the retiring pastor still holds on to people, to the office and to the accounts, that is, wants to maintain control over the affairs of the church. We need to be willing to 'let go' so that the incoming pastor can find soft landing ground. also the incoming pastor should not rock the church too much by introducing a lot of change, trying to sort of trash all that the outgoing pastor was doing, giving an impression that the outgoing pastor was not good enough. The new pastor should be sensitive in introducing change. He should introduce changes slowly so that he gets everybody on board. I think handling transition like this could enhance stability and growth of the church.

Needs to leave.
by: Anonymous

In most churches and denominations I know, protocol rightly insists that the retiring pastor leave for at least a year until the new pastor can get established as the clear unchallenged shepherd of God's people.

Some will naturally prefer the old to the new and seek counsel from the prior pastor when changes make them uncomfortable. Removing the prior pastor, though painful for a time, ultimately makes the transition easier for everyone and increases the likelihood that people will accept the new pastor and his vision for the church. This is probably even more true when the retiring pastor has been in place for a long time.

Later, if both men consult and agree, the prior pastor may be welcomed back to support and enhance the ministry of the new pastor.

Jesus' disciples were upset when He said He was going to leave them. They wanted Him to stay. He refused their wishes, knowing that the Father had something better in store for them which included His departure. "I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away..." (John 16:7).

Similarly, a retiring pastor does well to decline requests from supporters to stay with them. His departure helps secure the future success of the incoming pastor, securing also the future unity and fruitfulness of the church they both love.

Absolutely Not!!!!
by: Anonymous

I am living this nightmare. I am the new pastor and this church has had three pastors since the old pastor retired in 2008. Everyone of the former ministers privately complained of the situation and now I understand why. Just trust me. Don't take a position at a church if the former minister is still there!

Out with the old with love
by: Anonymous

No the retiring pastor should leave for a time so that the new pastor can establish their own understandings and relationships. The old and the new pastors might get along fine but the congregation may have a blurred understanding of roles that each one plays. Also congregation might try to divide the two because of changes that will occur. Statements like...That's not how Pastor did it.." can be tough enough without the old pastor there.

Retiring Pastor
by: Margaret Dunnigan

If the pastor and his wife are sensitive to the new pastor - then by all means they should stay. However, it might be a good idea to take a sabbatical until the new pastor is established. If the outgoing pastor handles the introduction of the new pastor. If he decides to stay, he must make it plain to the congregation that he is no longer the pastor. It can be a great experience, but it depends on the outgoing pastor.

Should a Pastor retiring stay at same church.
by: Anonymous

I think in most cases he can and should be made welcome to stay in his home church. There's nothing worse than feeling you must leave because you are no longer the pastor. That's like him being rejected if he stays. My husband went back into evangelizing after pastoring for eight years. I, as his wife, had to, at times, lovingly whisper to him when I knew he was going to do something out of habit. Sometimes it only took me reaching over and squeezing his hand with a smile as I gently shook my head no. In our situation, our son replaced his dad as Pastor and his style is completely different so at home we spoke of how we need to take a back seat and let our son earn the church's respect and attention his own way. My husband slips up at times but our son handles it well. Maybe your church needs to make sure he knows he's welcome to stay and the new pastor should handle anything else while the church prays for this retiree. I wish you the best. :)

Should a retiring Pastor stay in the church he just retired from?
by: Lady Fay

I believe that the former Pastor should be allowed to stay, because he and his family are members of that local assembly and though his assignment has changed, God has not cast him away- so why should the local body. The former Pastor can serve as an experienced mentor to the new Pastor as well as the former First Lady can nurture the new Pastor's Wife and when and if God plants them in another assembly, there will be no hard feelings.

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