Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pastoral Longevity

I was talking with a pastor friend yesterday when the subject of how long I've been at the Edgerton Church came up. My association with this church has been nine years - a little over eight as the full-time pastor. My friend commented that he had read my blog and was encouraged by it. He has served for a little more than two years in an established, older church. We talked about the difficulty a pastor faces in trying to change the culture of a declining or dying church. In my previous post I listed seven things that I believe have contributed to our turn around in Edgerton.

However, one thing I left off the list was longevity. I think a lot of pastors get frustrated when they go to a church and can't implement their vision immediately. They work at a feverish pace for a year or two and then move on to what they hope will be a more receptive field. I know - I've done it!

The reality is that it takes time to change church culture. The attitude of many lay persons in the church is, "Pastors come and go." It's true. Take a look at the statistics. But the churches that experience growth, and the declining churches that experience renewal, have one thing in common - pastors who serve for a number of years in the same place.

So what's it take to hang in there for the long haul? I have some ideas, but what do you think?


  1. Dave, the key ingredient is consistent leadership. Staying with the same church for an extended period allows you to achieve larger goals. However, it is as much about your development as it is your church's. You are growing together.

  2. Dave,

    One thought, that isn't very ministerial, is an unwillingness to relocate. We get involved in a community, our families love were they live. So unless God puts a call on our lives to relocate then our call is to stay.

  3. Patrick and Tom, I appreciate your comments. Tom, you are right about the idea that in some cases, pastors may stay because of family issues. Perhaps at times those issues are a part of the call of God. I can see at other times when it can be a conflict in responding to God's call to relocate. Patrick, you are also dead on with the idea of larger goals. The longer you are in a community, the more legitimate the longer goals become. It's easy to waltz into town and share a big dream, but if you don't know the community, that dream may be nothing more than a mirage. Good stuff guys!