031 – Issues for the Pastorless Church [Podcast]

A listener question

Issues for the

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Welcome to Season 1 Episode 31 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this week’s episode I addressed a second issue brought up by a listener question from Karl: “Why another church, especially when there are churches in the area that are searching for a pastor or do not have a permanent pastor?”



Great question!  In fact it is such a great question that it is supercharged and loaded with at least 3 issues that I am choosing to address in 3 separate episodes.  Here are the issues I have identified in the question and my plan to respond to them:

1. Why start new churches? – Episode 26 (July 2, 2015).

2. The issues of pastorless churches – Today’s episode

3. The issue of churchless pastors – September 2 episode


Today’s Issue:  The Pastorless Church

Significant Questions for the Pastorless Church

1. Why is the church pastorless? – The circumstances under which the previous pastor left will have influence on how the church transitions into its next chapter.

2. How long has the church been pastorless? – The longer the time between pastors, the greater the risk for the church to lose outward focus, momentum, and unity.

3. How have the roles of other church staff and leaders been affected while the office of senior pastor has been vacant? – Sometimes taking on new responsibilities temporarily can lead to a lack of clarity later.

4. What is the church’s understanding of the role of the pastor? – This has a significant impact on how the church conducts itself during the pastorless season.

5. What is the church’s reputation in the community? – Prospective pastors want to know and have a right to know.


10 Mistakes Pastorless Churches Make (and recommendations for avoiding them).  I unpack this in my ebook by the same name that is available for purchase in my online resource store.

Special Offer: If you email me a request for this ebook and let me know you heard about it on the podcast, I will email you a copy for free. 

1. Mistake: Electing a Pulpit Committee. (Recommendation: Empowering a Pastor Search Team)

2. Mistake: The Beauty Contest of Supply Preachers. (Recommendation: Interim or Transitional Pastor).

3. Mistake: Having no written Job Description for pastor. (Recommendation: Implementing Pastoral Covenant).

4. Mistake: Saving money while not paying pastor salary. (Recommendation: Strategic investment)

5. Mistake: Failure to check reference/asking the wrong questions. (Recommendation: Develop good questions and extend reference search) Free download: 100 Good Questions for Pastor Search Teams

6. Mistake: Being in a hurry/settling/style over substance. (Recommendation: Use the interim time to know who you are and identify non-negotiables)

7. Mistake: Foot dragging/failure to launch. (Recommendation: Identify concerns, pray, decide)

8. Mistake: Not keeping the congregation informed on the process. (Recommendation: Weekly update and prayer)

9. Mistake: Unrealistic expectations. (Recommendation: Provide protection for pastor and family and provide necessary resources)

10. Mistake: Presenting an unclear picture of the church and community (Recommendation: Develop a profile of the church and of the pastor by means of surveying, listening, and reporting)


Closing Observations for the Pastorless Church

1. The pastorless time is an opportunity to refresh and reboot. – Deal with issues.  Grieve appropriately. Dream together.  Love one another. Focus forward.

2. The pastorless time is NOT the time to sit on the sidelines. – Get in the game.  Be the church.

3. Don’t expect God to send you a pastor if you have not been willing to do the work of preparation. There are resources to help you understand what you need to do to prepare for your next pastor.  Take advantage of them.  For some church assistance resources from my website, click here.


To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

1. Comment section below

2. Email: contactgerrylewis@gmail.com

3. Voicemail: 817-929-0643

4. Direct tweet @drgerrylewis

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, argumentative, off-topic, or just plain unhelpful.