Are You Pitching Tents or Looking for Greener Pastures?

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Too many young pastors who are called to smaller churches are ready to leave as soon as they arrive on the field. They are looking for greener pastures, pastorates who have further reaching ministries, more influence, and a more comfortable living. It is rare among my contemporaries (I am 36 years old) to have one stay at a church for more than 3-5 years.

After reading “Breakout Churches,” I am even more convinced that if God truly called one to a particular ministry (small or large), then that minister should stay and invest a great deal of time in that ministry if the Lord wills it.

As The Rainer Group researched thousands of churches to see if any were breakout church (see the criteria from yesterday’s post), here’s another statistic that stood out to me.

  • The average tenure of a breakout church leader exceeds twenty-one years.
  • The average tenture of other churches is approximately four years.

The issues of why the tenure of pastors is so short is many and multi-faceted. Pastors leave for greener pastures, or to escape ultra-stressful situation due to the viciousness of the congregants, some others treat their pastors as CEOs expecting quick results. Look at what else Rainer says:

“And ironically, while these lay leaders demand quick results, they can be reluctant to give the pastor any authority to carry out the initiatives they expect to take place. The result is frustration for both parties. No wonder it is not uncommon to see pastors leave under pressure or even be forcefully terminated in such situations” (p. 58).

Now, long term pastorates are not the ultimate solution, but “I believe that long tenure is one of the key requisites for churches to move from mediocrity to goodness to greatness.” (58) Pastors too often leave at the first sign of conflict, but “breakout church leaders endured the pain and did not leave. They were tenacious. Their short-term pain brought long-term gains.”

Some of you who read this are seminary students, some of you are members of the church where I serve, some of you are friends in the ministry. I am convinced we should not be looking to grab the brass ring, but we should pour our heart and soul into the ministry where God has placed us. Preach the Word of God and love your people not as numbers but as just that … people — souls who need strengthening in Christ or souls who need Christ.

I hope that we as pastors are willing to pitch our tents in the pasture God’s placed us. Too many pastors will tell you — those greener pastures aren’t so green up close.

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