In my posting on Pastoral Longevity, I asked the question about what are some factors that contribute to longer pastoral tenures. I would still like to hear from anyone reading this what you think in this matter.
I believe one key to longevity is the issue of release. We put a lot of emphasis on the initial call to a congregation in The Wesleyan Church. I believe it is very important to match a pastor and a church. In our system, the district superintendent may be able to give assistance in this area, it is ultimately the pastor's responsibility to assess a church's culture and personality to see if there is a match.
But once the decision has been made to go to a church, a pastor needs to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to know when it is the right time to leave. Just because we face some resistance does not mean it's time to go. Over the years I've watched some pastors leave churches well before they should have simply because they didn't want to deal with conflict. (At this point, I would have to recommend Dr. Wayne Schmidt's teaching on "Change and Conflict Management" I enjoyed in my masters program!)
I'll relate a personal story here. I came to the Edgerton Church after having closed a church plant that my family and I had worked to establish for five years. I was beat up and faced a lot of rejection from my district "tribe." I figured that I would stay in Edgerton for a couple of years, using the time to heal while helping the congregation find a new direction. Then I would head off for whatever ministry God had in store next. That was nine years ago! My district superintendent applauds me for hanging in there and building things up. But I will tell you what I have told him: I am here because God hasn't released me.
Let me ask my pastor friends this: How do you know when you are released? Have you ever left a church and regretted the move, realizing some time after the fact that you should have stayed? And have you stayed longer than you should have (for whatever reasons) and have regrets?