CNLP 382: William Vanderbloemen on Why 2021 Will Be the Year So Many People Quit and Future Staffing Trends

WIlliam Vanderbloemen thinks 2021 will be the year so many churches and organizations see much higher than normal turnover, and why it will happen.

In addition, he shares future staffing trends and how to do succession well.

Welcome to Episode 382 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about why he is so big on digital.

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Next: Pastoral Succession That Works by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird

Christian Teams

Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization is Now a Startup by Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard

CNLP 180: William Vanderbloemen on How to Gain a Competitive Advantage by Creating an Amazing Culture Staff and Volunteers Won’t Want to Leave

CNLP 114: William Vanderbloemen on How to Know When It’s Time to Quit

Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

Rebuilding Your Broken World by Gordon MacDonald

Ten Signs of a Leadership Crash by Stephen Mansfield

In-Person Church Attendance is Here to Stay (But 5 Ways It’s Changing in the Future) by Carey Nieuwhof

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1. 2021 will be the year of turnover

You might find this hard to believe, but William thinks that 2021 is going to be the year of turnover. And not only will it be the year of turnover, but he thinks you could end up losing some of your most valuable team members. He points to a couple of specific reasons why he thinks this will happen:

  1. Turnover is a completely normal thing that happens in organizations, but in 2020, almost no turnover has happened because people didn’t want to leave because of COVID.
  2. The last thing people wanted to do during lockdown was add MORE uncertainty into their lives, so rather than changing jobs to start a new one, they just stayed where they were.

It’s doubtful that either of those trends will continue deep into 2021. So, William wants to make sure that you are prepared to lose at least one of your most valuable team members. It’s much better to be prepared when it happens, so prepare now.

2. A pastor’s role as a priest is becoming more important now than ever before

Traditionally, pastors play three major roles:

  1. Prophet
  2. King
  3. Priest

All three are important, but now the “priest” role will be more important than ever for leaders, because it’s the only role that can’t really be outsourced online. Any pastor online can teach and lead your people, but you are the only one who can sit down and actually listen to them.

So, how do you start to get people coming back to your local church? William recommends you follow Billy Graham’s example of writing your sermons “with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” But that newspaper needs to be the most local newspaper you can find if you want to reach your community.

3. How to know when it’s time to start a succession

It’s so common for pastors to get “Brett Favre Syndrome” and keep thinking, “I’ve got one more year in me.” But, how do you know when you don’t have another year in you, and it’s time to start a succession?

From the research his team has seen, William sees a real season of growth that starts on a pastor’s 40th birthday but ends at their 55th or 60th birthday. At that point, a slow decline begins.

There are outliers to that data, so he gives other signs you might need to transition: If you’re no longer excited by the day-to-day work of ministry but love preaching, if you’ve started counting down the days, or think you can’t make it another seven years, it might be time to start talking about a five year succession plan.

Quotes from Episode 382

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Want To Get Ahead In 2021? 5 Skills You’ll Need.

What if 2021 could be a year of unprecedented growth for you and your church?

I know, that sounds crazy, but like most things, it’s crazy until it’s not.

2021 can be a great year for you and your team, and I’d love to help you make it happen.

That’s why I created the 2021 Church Leader Toolkit.

Inside, I cover:

  • How To Produce Content That Actually Gets Read & Watched
  • 5 Keys To Better Digital Preaching
  • How To Keep You And Your Team Out Of Burnout
  • 7 Strategies To Deepen Digital Engagement
  • 3 Key Pivots For Every Organization In 2021

I’ll be releasing 5 parts of the toolkit throughout December. And it’s free.

You can get access and share these skills with your team here!


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Next Episode: Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson has led a church in DC for over two decades. In this interview, Mark opens up about how deep the divide is in DC, how he resists the pressure to become partisan, and how to create a multi-partisan church. He also talks about the future of the church after 5 of his physical locations were put in jeopardy by cinema insolvencies, and how he manages his time.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 383.

CNLP 382: William Vanderbloemen on Why 2021 Will Be the Year So Many People Quit and Future Staffing Trends


  1. S on December 6, 2020 at 12:34 am

    I was surprised that anyone thinks you believe the church will be going completely online. But I do wonder if part of the reason there’s as much frustration in the response to your messages as there is, is because you’re leaving out changes that need to happen on the online interpersonal level.

    Yes, the large-scaleable approach works well for transitioning to online in a way. But when I think back to the times online really worked for me, it was actually very personal, not something mass produced usually. Mass produced can be good for learning information or entertainment, not a lot else. And I know in our current online community events… it’s easier to do a mediocre online event than an in-person event, but it’s much harder to do a good, uplifting, legitimately connecting online community event.

    I see that the shift in community is present in your thinking. But maybe it deserves to be closer to center stage. How do we make online community events genuinely connecting? How do we make sure that in-person “home church” type alternatives are genuinely connecting and fulfilling their role if the overall church feels more diffuse? How do we connect, for real, with the online newcomer?

    When you say “move online” you’re talking about something that is in sync with the broader culture. An element of the broader culture that is useful, but also somewhat dysfunctional. But doing community at all is out of sync with the current in the broader culture–doing it better, innovating and improving it, is moving in the opposite direction of the current in the broader culture.

    I can also add that I believe we need to adapt to, and to some degree heal, the fractured attention that has come with modern living, in order to make room for spirituality. It is possible to do this online to some degree, but again not by going with the current of the broader culture–we have to make space for a deliberate shift.

    So a lot of it is, yes, moving online–and yet moving in the opposite direction of general online culture–and that actually needs to be thought through very carefully because it so often consists of seemingly small choices that add up. And so much of it comes from being more small scale, direct, and personal–often the opposite of what a move online seems to involve.

    Not phrasing it perfectly but hopefully the gist is coming across!

    — someone who has been reading Bowling Alone for a long time

  2. Paul on December 1, 2020 at 10:08 am

    I wonder how many people at Willow know about what was happening at Dave’s former church. I wonder if they know about how women were treated and how Dave’s wife responded (on facebook, so it’s in writing) to a former employee coming forward and talking about what was happening to her behind the scenes (Spoiler alert: She didn’t like it, and thinks bringing these sorts of accusations to light actually hurts women.)

    I wonder if people know that Dave’s former church didn’t really begin an outside investigation until around 7 weeks after allegations of a female employee being inappropriately touched by a leader came to light. Before you think it’s just an unproven allegation, the event AND audio were caught on security camera. (Spoiler alert 2: The investigation didn’t start until after Dave left.)

    I wonder if people know that there wasn’t much (if any?) public statement made to all 7 campuses about what happened?

    For the most high profile church vacancy in America (especially considering why it was vacant) it all seems so awfully strange. Also seems strange that the guy charged with filling the vacancy was hired by the person he recommended for the job. One could almost think there could have been a conflict of interest there. If Dave gets hired, Tim gets a job, so Tim could be motivated to make sure Dave gets hired, especially if Tim really wants the job.

    Want to know more? Go read about it here:

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