Pastoral Tenure

April 11, 2017 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Yesterday we began a review of pastoral tenures. We concluded based on research completed by a number of formal surveys that pastorates of 5-14 years are the most fruitful and beneficial for both the pastor and the church he serves.

The following are the six (6) observations that Thom Rainer made on this topic.

  1. Our research continues to show a strong correlation to pastoral tenure and church health. Of course, correlation is not the same as causation. Nevertheless, the evidence is strong, if not overwhelming, in favor of long tenure.


  1. The breakout years of pastoral tenure typically begin after years 5 to 7. In other words, the best years of a pastor’s tenure, both for the pastor and the church, do not begin until at least five years have passed. Unfortunately, the majority of pastors in America do not stay at a church for five or more years.


  1. Relationships take time, particularly in church leadership. Keep this perspective in mind. When pastors begin ministry in a church, they are the newest people at their respective churches. Relationships are already established among the members. That is why I’ve heard from many church members that a pastor did not seem like “their pastor” until about five years passed.


  1. Nearly nine out of ten churches in America are in need of turnaround leadership. Turnaround leadership is most often methodical and incremental. It can’t be accomplished in just a few years.


  1. Community relationships and impact take time as well. In most communities, pastors are not considered a part of the locality until they have been there at least five years. A church, to be effective, must have a positive presence in the community led by an accepted pastor.


  1. Pastors and churches will have had time to go through a crisis or conflict. The typical period for significant conflict is in years 2 to 4. The longer the pastorate, the greater the likelihood that the church and the pastor have gotten to the other side of the conflict.


There is an important principle associated with local church effectiveness. As the pastor goes, so goes the church. I relate this to the high ratio of Bi-Vocational pastors. Pastors are not ubiquitous. They cannot be engaged in community connection and person to person evangelism when they are occupied with other employment responsibilities.

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