Are You the Right Priest in the Wrong Place?

by Rick Warren

The original title of this article was “Are You the Right Pastor in the Wrong Place,” but since Orthodox pastors are also priests, and with apologies to Rick Warren, I thought I’d tweak it. Truthfully, this is a very important reality in pastoral work and often not appropriately considered by we presbyters. I’m quite sure that bishops give this a great deal of thought when making assignments. Why? Because everything is riding on it. Like any marriage, the ‘fit’ between preacher/pastor/priest is and must necessarily be a good one. Rick Warren is not an Orthodox Christian, but this topic is an issue for every pastoral placement.

The reason I posted this is to ask you the question: Do you know what is a good fit for you? If not, perhaps some deep prayer and talking to your spiritual father or bishop would help. It’s okay – it’s not wrong to realize you are the right man in the wrong place.

One of the most important — and often forgotten — ingredients to a growing church is having the right leader in the right place.

It doesn’t matter how good and godly of a pastor you are, if you don’t fit your congregation, it’ll be tough for your church to grow.

Once, we brought a guy from Atlanta to Southern California to start a church. He was a great guy and a great church planter. He’d already started one church and grown it to 200. I thought he could do it again in California. But after about a year the church was going nowhere. They had three to four people in the church. It just wasn’t working.

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But I knew it wasn’t the church planter.

So I asked him what he thought the problem was. He was honest and said, “I don’t fit the community.” He’d started the church in a community with mostly wealthy middle-age people who had teenagers. Yet he fit more with young couples and singles just starting out.

That wasn’t Irvine at all. It was Huntington Beach. So we moved him three cities over, and in a year and a half his new church had more than 200.

Right pastor, wrong place.

If you’re going to have maximum growth in your church, the pastor, the congregation, and the community have to be a match. When all three of those line up, you’ve got potential for real growth. If any of those don’t match up, growth is still possible. It’ll just be slower and more difficult. You need to understand that.

When I was in college, I was the interim pastor of a small church with 19 people in it. Everyone in the church was a truck driver — everyone. Those people loved me. They were so kind to me. And I loved them, too. But I didn’t fit. I don’t have a mechanical bone in my body. They needed a pastor who had a little grease under his fingernails. That wasn’t me.

So the best thing I could do for that church was to leave it and let them get somebody who matched them better. That’s not a knock against me or a knock against the church. It just wasn’t a fit.

Are you a good fit with your church?


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