Tenure matters in leading a church to growth. Some years ago, Thom Rainer’s research team showed that effective evangelistic churches were led by pastors with a “stick-to-it-ness,” a “tenacity and longevity” that made a difference.This topic is so critical to healthy church growth that I’ve written about it before: “8 Reasons Pastoral Tenure Matters” and “10 Factors that Help Long-term Pastors Stay at Their Church.”
I stand by those factors already stated, and my further conversations with long-tenured pastors have shown these additional factors:
- They genuinely enter their position believing they will be there the rest of their lives. This “lifetime” commitment is easy to express, but not so easy to live out. Only those leaders committed to a lifelong ministry fight through the issues to stay there.
- They’ve grown to love their church and their community. They love their church, but they also love the community that is usually much bigger than their congregation. Their connections outside the church, coupled with their opportunities to influence the community, give them added reason to stay where they’re currently serving.
- They often have a long-term plan to preach through the Word. That is, they don’t think only about next Sunday; they’re thinking about their preaching plans over the next year or years. That big-picture, long-term vision gives them reason to stay.
- They recognize the value of a longer-term ministry for their family. Simply being settled for some time allows a family to develop healthy patterns and traditions. Children remain in one school system for a number of years. Their “home” is genuinely a home for them.
- They take care of themselves physically. They exercise. They eat decently. They sleep. They know that bad health can quickly limit their ministry—so they do their best to remain in good shape.
- In many cases, they know their church can’t afford a short-tenured pastor again. Several short pastoral tenures in a row lead a church to think, “Well, he’s not going to be here longer than a couple of years—no pastor is, actually—so we don’t need to make the changes he’s recommending.” Somebody has to break the pattern of short tenures for the long-term good of the church.
- They take their days off, and they enjoy their annual vacations. They realize (and how much I still have to learn here. . . ) that short-term breaks are good for long-term ministries. In fact, they’re imperative to help us stay fresh and avoid burnout.
What other factors might you add?
Thom S. Rainer, Effective Evangelistic Churches(Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1996), Kindle Edition, location 1181.