Pastors seem to be staying in their churches longer now than they did in previous generations.
That’s on purpose.
I know, because as of this month I’ve been ministering at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship for 26 years. When our family arrived here, our prayer was that the Lord would let us stay and plant roots.
Certainly there are challenges to staying so long in the same place. Keeping fresh, not settling in too comfortably, and not repeating the same ideas over and over are constant battles to fight against. (I address those in my follow-up article, The 5 Biggest Dangers Of Staying In A Long-Term Pastorate – And How To Avoid Them).
But if you can avoid those pitfalls, here are 8 advantages to investing a big chunk of our lives in one church body.
1. There are some lessons it takes a lifetime to learn – and teach
Recently I heard an art history expert say that the reason the great painters of history are called the “old masters” isn’t because they painted a long time ago, but because it takes decades to become great.
It’s the same in ministry.
When you move every few years, you never get past the preliminary stages of relationships and ministry.
It takes years, even decades to get into the truly deeper aspects of any discipline, including pastoral ministry.
2. You get to see generational results
Spiritual growth is long term. Not only is it about an eternity in heaven, it’s a about how we spend our lifetime here on earth – and how we affect the generations that come after us.
Spending decades of thriving ministry in the same place allows you to have that kind of long-term impact. Today, there are adults with kids in our church who were kids themselves when we started ministry here.
That kind of consistency creates a long-term impact, and it’s worth the time invested.
3. You can slow down a little
We live eight miles from Disneyland. For our tenth anniversary at the church, the congregation blessed our family with Disneyland passes for an entire year. The first time we used them, we did what we’d done at every previous Disney visit. We showed up early, ran to the best rides before the crowds showed up … and wore ourselves out in just a few hours.
Then we realized “Wait a minute! Why are we rushing? We have annual passes, and we live just a few miles away. We can come back whenever we want, so there’s no reason to rush.”