Generally, long-term pastor tenures are better than short-term pastor tenures. The context where the pastor ministers can impact the tenure.
The church body can impact tenure. And the pastor can impact tenure length. Here are eight ways pastors can cultivate their long-term tenures:
- Elevate your family above your career. You simply cannot overestimate the importance of family stability. Your family is not a quantifiable metric in the decision to transition or not. One wise mentor once told me, "If your wife ain't called, then you ain't called." He's right. Your family is the front line of your ministry. They come first. If they want to stay, then in the vast majority of cases, you should not lead them to another place of ministry.
- Stop basing fulfillment on the size of your church. A 2,000-attendance church is not more fulfilling than a 200-attendance church. Your worth to Christ is not dependent on the size of your church. Success is no longer about "arriving" at the large county seat churches like it was in the 1960s. Quite frankly, such ideas should not have existed back then. They certainly shouldn't exist now.
- Live in the community where you pastor. I once consulted a church where the pastor left after several years because he simply did not connect with the community. He lived 30 minutes outside of the city from where his church was to get more house for his money. It's hard to love a community if you don't live there. Additionally, some communities are easier to love than others. A New Englander might have to work to love the Deep South. A Southerner might get culture shock in Miami. Californians know that the northern part of the state is quite different than the southern part of the state. To love a place over time, you must live there.
- Don't cast your preferences as vision. One of the biggest unseen and internal faults of a pastor is creating a vision around personal preferences. Just because you like something doesn't necessarily mean it is best for the whole of your congregation. You don't always have to get your way in your church. If you always get your way, then you're creating a toxic culture.
- Pick your battles. Too many pastors die on molehills. I knew a rural church where the new pastor got fired in his second year. He decided to discard all of the tchotchkes families had donated throughout the years. He thought they were ugly. He was right. However, the church chose ugly decor over a foolish pastor.
- Continually ask long-term questions. You minister to people in the moment, but you must also lead them towards the future. The person struggling with a dying parent does not care about your 10-year vision right then, but they will be glad you asked the right questions about leadership ten years from that point.
- Have a plan to develop and equip staff. Without a formal plan to develop staff, you will be alone in your long-term vision. If you don't bring along your staff, then it is highly unlikely you will bring along the church as well. You must do the hard work of developing staff to survive long-term at your church.
- Discern the difference between snippiness and disunity. That comment about the lack of choir robes is most likely just snippiness. Don't treat the offender as if he were killing the church. You should expect criticism as a leader, especially if you are the lead pastor. You are the person everyone sees. High visibility means you will have both influence on people and critiques from people. Most criticism aimed at you is not disunity. If you can't handle criticism, then you should not be the leader.
One of the greatest influences on pastoral tenure is the pastor. While some things are out of your control, a lot is not. You have the ability to cultivate a longer tenure.
Sam Rainer is the lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida. He is the president of Church Answers, the co-founder and co-owner of Rainer Publishing and president of Revitalize Network.
For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.