Single Pastors

4612975747_9708f0e857Christian Post touched upon a little-discussed topic when it comes to hiring a pastor for your church.  To hire or not to hire a single pastor?  They highlighted a pastor who had been divorced however.  Personally I believe that is an entirely separate issue.  Some churches may be more turned off by the divorce than by his singleness.

Which I’ll throw up two questions – should a church hire a pastor who has been divorced?

Churches who say no cite the qualifications of an elder seen in 1 Timothy 3, that he (that’s a subject for a different post) must be “the husband of one wife,” (1 Timothy 3:16).  Paul in Titus 6 reiterates this.

Some churches will say that if a pastor has gotten a divorce on biblical grounds (adultery, abandonment by a nonbelieving spouse) then fine.  Some will say as long as he hasn’t been remarried.  Some will say not at all.  Some churches will say “who the heck cares?” and I’d encourage you to stay away from those churches.

Personally I’m one to look at this individual on a case-by-case basis.  I’m not convinced a pastor is disqualified for life based on a past divorce.  I will say I lean more to no than yes.  I believe that you can lose your ministry, but keep your family.  If you lose your family you can’t keep your ministry.  I don’t agree with any pastor staying in the pulpit while going through a divorce, regardless of the reason.  That doesn’t mean chuck them to the street.  I believe the church has an obligation to provide care for that pastor during that season on life.  He shouldn’t be treated any differently than any other member of the church in that way.  It is distressing to see pastors not only get fired from their positions which means a loss of income and even housing, but also are literally disfellowshipped when they are removed from their position.  Sometimes as a discipline measure that may be appropriate if the pastor is unrepentant, but typically it’s not.

What do you think?

Now for the other question.  Having been a pastor and having gone through the search process I recall seeing numerous job descriptions I can recall a good number of churches making marriage a qualification for their pastor position.

How many qualified men (again a topic for a separate post) are they passing over when they discount single pastors who haven’t been called to marriage or haven’t found “Mrs. Right” yet?  I recall the apostle Paul wished that all were like he was – single, (1 Corinthians 7:7).  One should obviously be able to see benefits to that as well.  Sure there are some negatives, but there are positives.

But single pastors don’t bring the “two-for-one” package to pastoral ministry (and there we have the subject for yet another post).

So what say you?  Can/should pastors be single?

Photo Credit: Violett79 (CC by 3.0) on Flickr

Don’t miss an update, sign up for Shane’s emails!

Leave a Reply