Imagine what might take place if pastors consistently stayed at churches for 10 or more years. Imagine that their tenure was largely healthy. Imagine what would happen in our congregations.
The median tenure of a pastor at a church is around four years. Simply stated, over one-half of pastors leave a church before their fourth anniversary. And our research shows that the time of greatest fruit in a pastor's ministry does not begin until somewhere around years five to seven.
Is it possible, then, for pastors to stay longer in a healthy situation? In many cases, the answer is a resounding "yes!"
I approached this issue by looking at over 30 pastors whose tenure exceeded 10 years. And from my perspective, their tenures have been healthy and loving. Here are the 10 traits of those pastors:
1. They pray daily for their church members and staff. Many of the pastors kept the church membership roll in front of them and prayed through the entire congregation and staff every year.
2. They view their family as their first line of ministry. They did not see a dichotomy between church and family. To the contrary, they saw their family as the first priority of ministry in the church. I will elaborate on this matter in my post this Saturday, where I will share ways Satan seeks to destroy the families of pastors.
3. They connect with and love people in their community. Pastors are more likely to stay at a church longer if they love the community in which they are located. That love must be deliberate and intentional.
4. They choose their battles carefully and wisely. Not every issue is worth a fight. Long-term pastors are not cowardly; they are just highly selective and wise.
5. They welcome structures that make them accountable. Certainly, they don't seek structures that hinder their leadership. But a leader who avoids accountability is headed down a path of destruction.
6. They spend time developing staff. These pastors view their staff, whether fulltime paid, part-time, or volunteer, as one of their highest priorities for development and mentorship.
7. They expect conflict and criticism. They are a reality in any family or congregation. But these leaders are not surprised or frustrated by conflict and criticism. They realize, if it is handled well, it can be healthy for the church.
8. They connect with other pastors and ministries in the community. They realize that their congregations cannot minister to and reach the community alone. Other churches and pastors thus become partners in ministry rather than competitors.
9. They affirm both theology and practical ministry. Their foundation is the Word of God. They have a robust theology. But they don't neglect such practical issues as attendance trends, outreach ministries, financial health, and parking lot capacity.
10. They ask long-term questions. They are constantly seeking to lead the church beyond their own tenure. They avoid short-term solutions with long-term negative consequences.
What traits do you see in long-term healthy pastorates, specifically from the perspective of a pastor?
Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.
Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!
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.