Pastorates are getting longer.
This is mostly good news for pastors, their families, and the churches they serve. (As we saw in my previous article, 8 Benefits Of Investing A Lifetime Of Ministry Into One Congregation.)
But there are a few inherent dangers to staying in one church for a long time. As someone who celebrates 26 years at the same church this month, here are the top 5 dangers I’m constantly trying to avoid, in no particular order:
1. Getting Stuck In A Rut
2. Getting Stuck In A Rut
3. Getting Stuck In A Rut
4. Getting Stuck In A Rut
5. Getting Stuck In A Rut
Yeah, that’s about it. If you can stay out of that rut, a long-term pastorate is best for everyone. So, how do we avoid getting stuck?
Here are a handful of lessons I keep learning that help me stay fresh, excited and forward-looking after two and a half decades at the same church.
If the pastor isn’t learning and growing, the congregation will be able to tell. Maybe before we can.
The same old stories, the same tired ideas, the same worn out excuses…
You may have left your formal schooling decades ago, but no pastor should ever stop learning – not if we hope to stay effective.
The wisest, most joyous, most delightful people to be around are those who keep a spirit of curiosity about everything. They’re never satisfied with what they know. And they’re ready and willing to learn from as many sources as possible. Even (especially?) from people who hold views they disagree with.
Listen More Than You Talk
People may get tired of hearing you talk, but they’ll never get tired of having you listen.
People who talk all the time are exhausting. People who listen well are inspiring.
And if you can listen well, then reflect on it with a few words of wisdom? That will never get old.
Entrust Ministry To Younger Leaders
The youth are not the church of tomorrow. Tomorrow is too late.
They’re the church of today.
If your church is not willing to be challenged, changed and elevated by the energy and ideas of people under 30, they won’t show up. And even if they show up, they won’t stay. And they shouldn’t.
In most healthy churches, elders provide the wisdom and stability, youth provides the energy and creativity.
Give Authority Along With Responsibility
Too many pastors assign tasks to people without giving them the necessary authority to see the task through.