After five years of being a senior pastor, Brian Croft was a mess.
“There had been three different movements to get me fired,” he said. “There were threats of violence against me. The pastoral search team that led the committee to hire me was slandering my name all around the community. The church ran out of money. At the age of 34, I started having issues with my heart that doctors diagnosed as coming from accumulated stress.”
What did he do?
“I stayed,” he said. “And in year six, God turned the church around. It flourished for the next 10 years.”
And then, with a church that was financially and relationally stable, training interns, and running ministries, Croft felt it was time to leave.
In March 2022, 42 percent of surveyed pastors told Barna they’d considered quitting full-time ministry within the last year. “I’ve talked to pastors who have been serving more than 50 years, who said the combination of COVID, race relations, volatile elections, and fights over shutting down and masks created an unprecedented situation,” said Croft, who now counsels pastors. “They’d never experienced something this radically hard, this expansive. Every pastor dealt with it.”
In hard seasons—or even in healthy seasons—how does a pastor know if he’s supposed to persevere or if it’s time to be done?
The Gospel Coalition asked three former pastors—all of whom now teach or counsel pastors—for their best advice.
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