the weblog of Alan Knox

Pastor / Church Codependency

Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in blog links, community, elders, office, service | 8 comments

Pastor / Church Codependency

Chris at “The Amplified Life” (Isn’t that a great blog title?) has written a very good article called “Neil Cole on Dysfunctional Leadership.”

He quotes from Cole’s book Organic Leadership, and the quote is very good.

But, I also appreciate Chris’ comments on the quote. Chris writes:

According to Cole leaders have enabled this and now we wonder how we got here. We can blame the culture, and many leaders often do because that’s the easy thing to do, but according to this assessment the fault lies with how church leaders have been leading the church. We have fostered a codependent relationship and we struggle to break free from what we have fostered. I think this may account for what I brought up in another post about the role of the pastor today. Pastors have essentially taken on roles that were meant for other Christians but our codependent leadership dynamic has allowed this to happen, then we wonder why thousands of pastors leave the ministry each year.

I agree. There is a codependence problem between many churches and church leaders today. Interestingly, believers do need one another, and they should be able to rely on one another, but this is not what Chris (and Neil Cole) are talking about.

I think it will take both church leaders and churches working together to break this cycle of codependence. The problem is, I’m not sure many want to break their codependent relationship, because they think it’s perfectly fine and even scriptural.

What do you think? What will it take for churches and pastors/leaders to break the codependency that Chris wrote about? Should they?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-16-2011


    I agree, as well! Often, as I have been in conversation with others, the issue has arisen.

    My own thought is that there is no man alive who is able, much less be equipped, to satisfactorily fulfill the role expected of those we designate as pastors.

  2. 2-16-2011

    Thanks for linking to my post. This is also something personal for me as I pastor a fairly traditional church but I see things in scripture and see how we do things that are not lining up with one another. I think in my situation it will need to be a gradual shift guided by much prayer in hope that the Holy Spirit will work in the heart of myself and others.

  3. 2-16-2011

    My take on the matter is that we have combined the Eph.4 APEST functions and turned them into this person referred to as PASTOR. What was intended by the H.S. as shared leadership based on giftings is now assumed by people we refer to as pastors. What they really are though are super-pastors in that the role has greatly expanded beyond what was originally intended. That’s why it takes so much education and preparation to be a pastor. A lot is expected!

  4. 2-16-2011


    I think the cycle would be broken by a fuller revelation of Christ as a body of many members. Codependancy is good when it is fostered by a need to be among all of the members of the body because we need to be a diverse unit of ministering gifts.

  5. 2-16-2011

    Aussie John,

    I agree that one person is not “able, much less be equipped, to satisfactorily fulfill the role expected of those we designate as pastors.” I wonder why this codependency happens so regularly then…


    I agree that the transition has to be gradual. Do you have any ideas how to help yourself and the others in the church begin that transition?


    In your context, have you seen any people transition out of the “super pastor” role?


    Yes. Like I said, we do need one another and should rely on each other. But, I don’t think we’re all supposed to depend on one person… except for Christ.


  6. 2-17-2011

    Yes, I think a gradual approach is best.

    While thousands of Pastors drop out from exhaustion and discouragement, and tens of thousands of Christians give up on church altogether.

    Slow. You know, like we use to overcome other addictive practices that harm our (and those around us) ability to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ.

    Perhaps start by reducing your porn addiction by 2% a week. Introduce other visual materials (let others begin to participate in their normal role), like a book or magazine or a blog. Maybe one subscription to a newspaper and one rss feed from a blog–they could use the income/traffic. You’d be off porn in a year!

    Maybe that’s way too fast, all that in one single year. It’s probably more realistic to have it take 4 or 5 years to wean ourselves away. And don’t everyone do it at the same time, because it could cause widespread job and monetary loss throughout the industry.

    The money side isn’t the only issue, but it can be a barrier to consider God’s way. We should set up a fund to train displaced Porn workers and distributors and to purchase glasses for those addicts who strained their eyes over the years and gum memberships so they can get back in physical condition after all those years sitting and watching.

  7. 2-17-2011

    I’m so not for incremental change (but, that already showed?).

  8. 2-17-2011


    Yes. It shows. 🙂

    Of course, discipleship does take time. And, for those who struggle with pornography (or other sinful activities) it is often a long process.

    I would say that same would be true for those who have been taught that depending on the pastor for everything is right and good. It will take time to teach (both by word and example) differently.