I’ve heard it said, “The effectiveness of a postage stamp lies entirely in its ability to stay where it’s put.” It’s hard to believe that Linda and I had the privilege to pastor at one church for 31½ years. I’ve heard that a pastor’s most effective years doesn’t take place until he’s been at a church for a least seven years.
A while back I read an excellent blog by Chuck Lawless. He gave eight reasons pastoral tenure matters. Maybe you are feeling like giving up, I hope these reasons would encourage you to hang in there!
- It takes time to earn a congregation’s trust.Especially if the church has had a divisive history, your first years may be only laying the groundwork for your real ministry.
- You may need years to become the pastor.Assume many of the previous pastors have lasted only about three years. If so, the church likely won’t see you as “pastor” until you’ve been there longer than the others.
- You will know your people better.We minister to people, and we minister best to them when we actually know them. Tenure gives you time to really know your congregation.
- Time gives you opportunity to show you love your church.It’s really simple – the longer you are there, the more opportunities you have to minister in good times and bad times. The more the church knows you care, the more they will follow you into the future.
- You can overcome opposition by your “stick-to-it-ness.” Opposition in a church often assumes they can outlast the pastor; after all, that’s what they’ve done in the past. A pastor who stands faithful can weaken the opposition by his tenacity.
- You will gain credibility in the community.Many great pastors I know shepherd not only their church, but also their community. It takes time to gain that kind of hearing.
- You will have time to build your own team. Much changes when you have around you the people you trust and respect. Patiently building that team will pay dividends.
- Tenure assumes times of trusting God rather than leaving.Few pastors I know have not had days when they wanted God to lead them elsewhere. Those who stay, though, seek God, pray for strength, and press on in the power of the Spirit. Learning how to do that will make you a better pastor.
BEFORE YOU GO
What other benefits would you add to this list?
Used by permission from Chuck Lawless. Originally posted on his site: www.chucklawless.com.
2 Comments Add yours
Randy, you are exactly right. I”m not sure why our forefathers didn’t understand this when they moved everyone around so much. The same is true on the mission field. Short term missionaries can be a help but they wilt win the battle. What is true ministering in your own culture is even more so in cross cultural situations. I”m not against work teams nor short term missionaries but they will never replace career missionaries. Churches who invest all their support in short term affairs probably need to reconsider what they are doing and expand their support to career people. (I know that sounds self- serving, especially since I am going on deputation this June, but iI firmly believe that it is true.)
An additional question I have is, when do you know that it is time to leave? Maybe you have been the pastor somewhere for twenty years and it is time for you to leave, how do you determine that?
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this comment from Chamber’s Utmost was very appropriate.
The discipline of spiritual tenacity
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10.
Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered. The greatest fear a disciple has is not that he will be damned, but that Jesus Christ will be worsted, that the things He stood for—love and justice and forgiveness and kindness among men—will not win out in the end; the things He stands for look like will-o’-the-wisps. Then comes the call to spiritual tenacity, not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted.
If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God. “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience.”
Remain spiritually tenacious.
Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.
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