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Former pastor: Change is normal in churches

PHOENIX — Churches in all denominations have to go through change once in a while, as the Catholic church recently discovered with the first resignation of a pope in 600 years.

Tom Garisha — Director of Pastoral Care and Coaching for the Evandelical Free Church of America and former pastor of Shiloh Community Church in north Phoenix — said that being a pastor is one of the most stressful jobs in America.

“There’s so much pressure on pastors and people in ministry today.”

Garisha said that losing a leader can be a setback for a church.

“But I think if a pastor leaves a legacy and is mentoring someone on his staff and bringing them along, change is a lot easier to swallow,” he said.

Garisha said that 80 percent of Americans don’t attend church, and churches have to change from time to time in order to attract new believers.

“That does not mean changing doctrine or altering truth from scripture,” he said. “It’s a matter of changing that might become more relevant to the culture and the needs of the culture.”

A change in church leadership usually means that some members of a church switching to another church when the new pastor comes in. That pastor usually leads new people into the church, but Garisha said pastors still blame themselves when they see people leave.

“It’s really hard not to take that personally when people leave. That’s a constant struggle for most ministers.”

The Vatican is going through pre-conclave meetings meetings Tuesday — pending the arrival of five cardinals — before setting a date to start selecting a new pope. A total of 115 are expected to take part in the conclave.