Pastoral Tenure

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by gb93433, Aug 15, 2003.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    I was a pastor in the SBC and noticed that many pastors never stayed very long. I was in it for the long haul but it seemed that the people especially in small churches expected the pastor to move on after about two years. Because of this the people seemed resisitance to do evangelism or things that require pastoral leadership. To my shock some of the leaders even expressed it to my face that they exepected me to move on after about two years. The average tenure of a pastor in another Baptist denomination is 9 years. What a contrast to about 2 years for the SBC!

    What has been the experience of some of you? Why do you think pastors stay longer in some denominations and not others?
     
  2. dianetavegia

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    GB, I am not a pastor but am SBC and just wanted to quickly say that our pastor of 2 1/2 years resigned and took a position as Director of Evangelism for the Oklahoma Gen. Baptist Convention. His last week people sobbed and clung to he and his wife wishing they were not going. My heart still aches, knowing he isn't there anymore.

    Not all SBC churches are the way you've described. A previous pastor of our church, for 20 some years, is still a member and preaches on occassion. He's 86 now.

    Diane
     
  3. Jeff Weaver

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    GB

    I cant completely answer the question. I had an uncle who was in the SBC and pastored a church for 40+ years until he died suddenly. He had many offers for other pastorates, and was popular in preaching revivals and funerals. I never did ask him why he stayed at this one church most of his ministry, wish now I had. Others though seem to run through pastors very quickly. I know of several where the expectation is a pastorate of 2-3 years. I know some where the call is nearly annual. I have heard varying reasons for this -- boredom, lack of energy of the preacher, lack of energy of the congregation, personality conflicts, etc.

    As a Primitive Baptist, the typical pastorate seems to last for a life time. There are exceptions of course, but it is more the norm than the abberation. Part of this is due to the way we conduct ourselves. A pastor will share his pulpit frequently, so the congregation doesn't get bored with the same man preaching the same sermon week after week. A good many Primitive Baptist ministers are members of the churches they pastor, so they perhaps have more invested in someone who never joins a church which he pastors. I am a member of the church that I pastor, and always been a member of the church I pastored, but I have moved around some, which isn't typical for us.

    I think a pastor has to have more invested in a congregation than just a pay check. This doesn't seem to be the case in many rural Southern Baptist Churches that I am acquainted with. Perhaps this is part of the problem. Perhaps a man accepts a pastorate with many ideas and goals which he never fully articulates, and which his congregation never fully accepts. This scenario would seem to be common in my experience with SBC congregations, and I would think it would lead to frustration on the part of the pastor and the church. I think it is important as some point very early in a pastorate, or even better before a pastorate begins to discuss with the church the pastors view of various issues, goals, plans, etc., and get feedback from the church. It seems from my non-SBC perspective that most SBC ministers take a new church and give their "best" sermons right off the bat, and expect the church to double in size in 6 months. Of course they should want the church to grow, I want my church to grow. But one has to understand that there is a lot of competition out there with other congregations. One has to establish in his mind/his church's mind why someone should prefer that church over the Community Church down the road, or the Methodist Church over the hill. One has to establish a reputation as a sound preacher, with a calm personality first. Lots of preachers of what ever flavor are anything other than calm. This may be fine for the short term, but over the long haul, it doesn't help. The church has to establish a reputation as one that keeps a clean house (and I don't mean dust bunnies). By this I mean, if you have pew sitters on Sunday morning who were at the strip club on Saturday night something is wrong. If you have a dictatorial deacon or family, this is wrong. If you have members who are on their third or fourth marriage, then something is wrong. The community will know about these things, and they will affect the church and its relationship with the community, and ultimately reflect poorly on the minister and the church. A minister and the Church have to pray constantly that the will of the Father be done, not the will of the preacher or the Church. They aren't always the same, contrary to the opinion of some.
     
  4. Jim1999

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    Not every man can hold a congregation beyond 4 or 5 years. Some have, and done it well. Others have stayed beyond their welcome.

    I moved about for the simple reason I wanted to see all of Canada and pastored in 6 of the 10 provinces.

    Laterly, I served as interim-pastor and guest speaker as I taught at the university.

    We all have our reasons, I suppose.

    Over 56 years, there was only one
    pastorate I was glad to leave and the members were glad to see me gone. It was a clear mistake on both our parts, and the only question was how to bow out gracefully after 8 months.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. terry williams

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    Here is my opinion on the subject (even though I'm a youth minister and it may not matter to some, lol).

    1. There are some pastors who are looking ahead to bigger churches. A smaller congregation is a stepping stone to a larger congregation. If a pastor is not careful he will think that things are greener in another pasture and jump from field to field.

    2. I believe that SBC church polity has some to do with it. Many SBC congregations are willing to follow their pastor as long as he does what they want him to. When he starts rocking the boat, deacons get phone calls, deacons talk to pesonnel committees and before too long the pastor has his resume out. I think in other Baptist denomonations the pastor is looked up more to which is good and bad.

    3. Another problem I see is that some search committees rush to find a new pastor instead of praying and seeking God's face in the process. I have seen churches who have lost a pastor who had a tenor of 5+ years and then find a new pastor in 6 weeks! That is not enough time for a congregation to grieve and heal from the previous pastor and leaves the new pastor in shoes that he cannot fill. I think that the rule that every year a pastor has been at a church, the congregation needs 1 month to grieve and heal before they search for a new pastor.

    These are my thoughts. BTW I have been at my 1st fulltime position for 5+ years, which beats the national average for a youth minister by close to 3 1/2 years. So it can be done!
     
  6. gb93433

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    I have noticed that this differs from one area to another and from one denomination to another. Where I live now, pastors seem to stay a long time. In the churches the people don't rely on the pastor so much to lead in ministry. Many of the Christians did not grow up in Christian homes. If they did go to church it was an RCC. So when they come to Christ they are different. Christians here are surrounded by non-believers regularly. Maybe about 10 percent of the people even go to a church.

    My sister and her husband came to know Christ about five years ago. The church they attend is five years old and has started about six others. Most of the people are young Christians who came to Christ there. They are all active in serving and helping others to grow. The pastor leads the church but they do the work of ministry. They don't wait for the pastor to lead them. They are about getting the job done. When you walk into that church you immediately notice something is different. Those people in that church are exploding with commitment and enthusiasm. There is a boldness unlike I have seen in very many places. There lives have been changed and they want others to know. After my brother in law was a Christian for about six months I visited them. In one of our conversations he told me that he could be fired from his job for telling others about Christ. He told me "But I don't care." He is now a retired police officer.

    John Wesley said, "Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of God upon the earth. John Wesley (1703-1791)

    D.L. Moody said, “If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent. After all, there are comparatively few people in the world who have great talents.”

    I believe pastors will stay even at a very poor salary if the people love their pastor and make every effort to do God's work.

    Right now I am meeting with ten people who are eager to grow. What a joy that is. Their lives are radically changed by Jesus. Nine of them did not grow up in Christian homes. Some of them are even faced with opposition from their families. Some of them have been alienated from their families. For some the Christian family is all they have. When people come to Christ and live in the midst of that kind of opposition there is a commitment they understand that others often do not. My dad said the worst decision I ever made was to become a pastor. He has become harder and harder. He became even harder when my sister and brother in law came to Christ.
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    Wyoming (and the mountain west) is a difficult place. Pastors will either stay a long haul and really enjoy the open, loose, no-nonsense approach of the independent-minded Westerner, or they will haul out quickly.

    Many wives cannot handle the lack of green grass and white picket fences. Or the Mormon neighbors.

    Have to look at Wyoming et al as a "mission field" and commit to stay for 5 years like a term on any field.

    And easier than Iran. :rolleyes:
     
  8. j_barner2000

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    I hope and pray that The Lord blesses me with a ministry that lasts a lifetime. I have seen my inlaw's pastor work with his church and they have a fire for reaching the lost. He has been there for 10 years. I have also seen churches who are complacent and their pastors seem to move on rather quickly. A common thread I seem to see is a mutual excitement for winning souls. I get excited to be sharing the Gospel with the lost. However, I have seen many who fear it so much, just like I did until the Lord showed me that it is not a suggestion, but a commandment.
    I think apathy or perhaps complacency is a better term, either on the part of the pastor or the church, is the reason for this happening.
     
  9. Circuitrider

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    I am the State Missions Director for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Baptist Churches. We have about 110 churches which fellowship with us. In a survey taken 5 or 6 years ago the average tenure for our fellowship was 8-9 years. We have several pastors who have been in their church 40+ years. :cool: Last Sunday I attended a reception for a pastor who had been in his church 30 years. I personally had a 15-year pastorate previous to taking my current ministry. ;)

    Some pastors are reluctant to move because finding another suitable church can be problematic. Of course the will of the Lord is the most important reason for going or staying. [​IMG]
     
  10. Squire Robertsson

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    Some of this goes to leftover sense of wanting to be like the Methodists. Back a hundred years ago or so it was common practice in the Methodist-Epsicopal (that's the Northern Methodists) to rotate their pastors after 4-5 years in a given church. (At least, that's the way my mother the granddaughter of a ME pastor explained it.)
     
  11. Pastork

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    It is my thinking that churches will ultimately grow into greater maturity and that the pastor will grow into greater maturity if there is a longer pastorate. Thus I think longer pastorates are better as a general rule.

    I have been serving Immanuel Baptist church for about ten years now, and I know that neither I nor they would have grown as we have together if I had left at those times I was so strongly tempted to do so.

    http://www.immanuelhomepage.org/Index.html
     
  12. Taufgesinnter

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    Our churches have traditionally had lifetime tenure for ministers. I'm at a more liberal church now, where that isn't true. Nevertheless, the pastor is leaving at the end of the year--he's only been here for about 4 years so far--and people are in shock and deep grief, and more than a few are angry. The previous pastor, as I understand, had also been at the church less than a decade when he left. This pastor is leaving on his own against the wishes of many in the congregation; the prior pastor had left at the desire of much of the congregation. Still, it is very upsetting to lose a pastor after only four years.
     
  13. PastorSBC1303

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    As a pastor I think there are a couple items at play here. First of all, I think many pastors come to a church with what they want to do, and the church is used to doing things there way. Thus the pastor goes in, throws out all he thinks is right and the church doesn't agree, and problems begin and then the pastor begins to look for a new ministry. I think many pastors make a mistake here, by assuming the church is going to follow without adequate time getting to know each other. I think a pastor should come in and spend alot of time getting to know his church and letting them get to know him before attempting to change things. I think this step alone would help lengthen the stay of most pastors. And I think a pastor should not take a church unless he is willing to stay there for a lifetime of ministry. But those are just my humble thoughts
     
  14. Revelator

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    In a couple of the Baptist churches I've been in, in the past after the pastor left for whatever reason, the congregation and or search commitee took entirely too long to find a pastor, in one case there were many men of God who preached earnestly and I believe were perfect candidates for the church. I believe a search commitee should pray and look and not waste their time. It took the last church I was at almost a year to find a pastor. By that time over half of the congregation had gone and only the people who held positions remained.
     

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