The Rock Star Pastor

The Rock Star Pastor

Let’s talk about obscure 90’s bands, shall we?

When I was a freshman in high school, the band Blind Melon (some call them a one-hit wonder, but I think that undermines their talent) came out with the song “No Rain.” I couldn’t get enough of it. That’s the song I currently sing to my one-year old when I rock her to sleep at night.

In 1995, I went to a Blind Melon concert in Atlanta, Georgia. They opened for a band called Silverchair. If you’re a product of 90’s alternative music, you’re totally on track. If not, just humor me. A couple weeks later, Blind Melon’s lead singer Shannon Hoon died of an overdose. It was tragic.

The band is still a “functioning entity” to this day. You can go to their fan site,, where fans lovingly refer to themselves as Melonheads.

But most of them would be quick to agree: it just hasn’t been the same since Hoon’s passing. They’ve tried and tried, but they haven’t experienced the same success without him.

I listened—and still listen—to Blind Melon because of Shannon Hoon. I went to the concert in Atlanta because of Shannon Hoon. When he passed away, my interest in the band faded. The albums I own are the ones with him as the front man. I don’t even know the name of the albums that came after.

That is a rock star. He or she is the show. It totally makes sense in the music industry. It doesn’t make sense in church ministry.

When you build your entire ministry around you, and you try to do everything and be everything to everybody, it obviously wears you down and burns you out faster.

But there is, I believe, an even sadder consequence…

What happens to your church after you leave?

Think about it…

• If it’s all built around you,
• and you leave,
• your church will be left without an identity.

I can think of a couple of churches that suffered the effects of this. The formula was simple. The epicenter of those churches was the senior pastor. That pastor had a dynamic personality (and usually a lot of talent).

When that pastor left, the church scrambled to find a new personality to match his. And while they did, the church dwindled.

Whether or not you ever plan on leaving your church, it’s a great practice to pretend in your mind that you will…

⇒ Not to create dissatisfaction in your current role, but to force yourself to build programs and systems around other people.

⇒ Not to create a fear in your congregation that you’re going to leave, but to develop other leaders (which, by the way, helps you just as much if you stay!).

“Planning for the future” SHOULDN’T mean this:

Finding a replacement equal to me when I decide to move on.

It SHOULD mean this:

Finding and developing leaders who have the potential to be better than me right now, while I still work here.

Instead of thinking of yourself as a rock star, think of yourself like Fleetwood Mac, the Beach Boys, or even The Band (you know The Band, right? Remember the song “The Weight”? “Take a load off Annie!” Go ahead, sing it as loud as you possibly can!). Those groups were successful without having one person as the consistent front man. Who knows, maybe they were successful because of it.

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