Shel – A friend of my is retired at 30 years of ministry in the same church. My main mentor and pastor served for 29 1/2 years at the same church before retiring. Both churches experienced plateaus and growth periods – most after the 10 year mark with the overall trend up from where the church was when they started. The stability of the lead pastor becomes a multiplying effect one you get past that 6-7 year range. While there are many issues related to growth – no churches grow truly to new levels with high turnover.
A great article this past week from Charles Arn on ‘Pastoral Longevity and Church Growth’. According to studies, there is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth. Truth is: Many pastors leave way before the amount of time it will take them to be truly effective. Here’s a chart showing a recent studys findings on why pastors are leaving their churches:
Here are some additional excuses Charles thinks are contributing factors:
• More money. Human nature is always dissatisfied, however much we make.
• Conflict. Another characteristic of human nature: conflict is anywhere there are people.
• You’re getting stale. Commit to being a life-time learner. It will keep you and your church in touch with today’s issues.
• Greener pastures. See Philippians 4:12.
• Boredom. To quote Rick Warren, “It’s not about you.”
• Burn-out. Whether you have reached that point or not, take time to retreat and renew.
• An exploratory call. We all like to be liked. But just because a church is calling doesn’t mean God is.
• You’re out of sermons. If that’s your reason for moving, I suggest you shouldn’t be in the ministry.
• Too much pressure. So your next church will be without pressure? If your motivation to move is to avoid pressure, see the response above.
I like Charles’ summary:
There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth. While most growing churches have long-term pastorates, and some non-growing churches have long-term pastorates, it is almost unheard of to find a growing church with many short-term pastorates. Frequent change of pastors seems to negate all the other complicated ingredients that go into a church’s growth mix.
I’ve heard that it takes a pastor about 6-7 years before real change starts to really happen at a quicker pace.
What has been your experience?