When I was six years old, my parents placed their faith in Christ as the result of a tragic, accidental death in our family. By God’s grace we were led to a wonderful small church with a pastor named Marvin Russell. Pastor Russell welcomed our family and faithfully discipled us as new believers. As I reflect on my childhood pastor, what stands out to me the most was his faithfulness. He spent his entire ministry at one church, serving for 42 years.
Inspired by my pastor’s longevity in ministry, I wrote my Master’s Degree thesis on pastoral tenure. During my research I learned the average pastor serves less than four years before transitioning to another church. There are many reasons the short-term pastorate exists. Perhaps, that’s an idea for another post. But, the benefits of serving long-term have many advantages.
Here are a few:
1. The stability of the pastor’s family
2. The opportunity to focus on long-term vision and goals
3. The development of confidence and trust in the congregation, earning you the right to bring about change.
4. The possibility of challenging the status quo in order to move the church to health and effectiveness.
5. The joy of serving more than one generation
I am in my 12th year as the lead pastor of our church. Have there been seasons in which I was tempted to move on and seek “greener pastures”? Definitely!
On a few occasions I even wrote up my resignation letter. However, today as I look back I am so grateful I stayed. I’m proud we “endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:2 NKJV). Had I been quick to resign I would have missed the lessons I needed to learn. I am better for it, and our church is healthier too.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it takes to stay fresh in pastoral ministry, over a long period of time. As I get older, I’m learning it’s easier to just do ministry our of memorization. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? We just do the same things week, after week, after week.
While the word “relevant” has been way over used in church culture, it’s important that we seek to do ministry in ways that are fresh, connecting, and inspiring. While God’s Word is always relevant, our presentation of it might not be.
So, how can we stay fresh in ministry when it’s easier to get stuck in a routine?
It’s possible for you to be a long-term pastor and lead a church that is still alive, vibrant, and relevant. Will I make it to 42 years like Pastor Russell? I’m not sure, but I am willing.
Question: What are you doing to stay fresh in ministry? Leave a comment below.
Hi! I'm Loren Hicks. I am follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a friend, and for the past