The Pendulum Effect: A Common Mistake in Calling a New Pastor

In this video, Chris talks with Tony Kroening of SIMA International, and Jon Wright and Mike Pagh, two leaders of Grace Eden Prairie. These church leaders discuss “the pendulum effect”, a common mistake when searching for a new pastor. “The pendulum effect” occurs when a church calls a new pastor in reaction to the experience they had with the former senior pastor.

In this segment, Jon Wright points out that it is not enough for the elders and pastoral search committee be aware of a tendency to call a new pastor in a way that is reacting against the experience with the former pastor. Leadership also needs to patiently teach and lead the congregation so that the entire search process is not framed as a reaction.

Here is an excerpt from When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search, regarding the tendency to hire a pastor out of reaction to an experience with the previous pastor.

Many if not most churches tend to hire out of a reaction to the previous pastor. They look for a pastor who will be strong in areas where the previous pastor was weak, or perceived as weak. At the same time, they assume that the next pastor will have the strengths of the previous pastor. Of course, you cannot help but be affected in some ways by your previous experience with a pastor. But, make it your goal to be Word-centered in hiring your next pastor rather than centered in your experience.

It should be pointed out that there also times when the previous pastor was highly respected, that churches look for someone who is like him. If this means looking for a pastor who preaches the Word and is a biblical shepherd, then it is a good thing. However, be careful not to confuse style with biblical qualifications. Don’t make it your goal to look for a pastor who is stylistically like the previous pastor. Again, regardless of whether it was a negative or positive, don’t allow your experience with the previous pastor to be the defining force for calling your next pastor.

Your Thoughts
How have you seen “the pendulum effect” take place in your church? If not in transition, could you see the possibility of that happening within your church? If so, what might that look like?

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