For the rest of the year, we’d head over for an evening, an afternoon, or just a couple hours to people-watch.
When you pastor a church for the long-term you can do the same. There’s no feeling of having to rush everything through and get it all done now.
When you’re expecting to be back next week, next month, next year and next decade you can take your time, build principle upon principle and work on strengthening relationships.
4. Longevity forces everyone to grow deeper
Preaching to the same congregation week after week for decades has its challenges. Like staying fresh.
But that’s a good challenge to face. We need to keep fresh anyway. It’s important to always be learning, growing and trying new things for our own personal and spiritual health, so being nudged into it by the fact that you have to preach again this Sunday helps you do what you should be doing anyway.
5. Consistency breeds trust and confidence
Gary Garcia and I have been together on the pastoral staff of this church for 26 years (he was here when I arrived). We’ve become “the guys who are still there.”
Even when people have moved away – either from the community, or just from the church – it’s interesting to see how much it means to people to come back and see the familiar faces of pastors they know and trust.
In the last few years we’ve had several experiences of people in crisis who didn’t know where to turn, but came knocking on our door – either at home or the church – wondering, hoping and praying that someone they knew would still be there for them to talk to.
Certainly, if we’d been gone there would be another pastor who could meet with them and help them. But the fact that we already knew them, their history, their family and their circumstance gave them a level of trust that helped us get to the meat of the issues, and find a place of hope and healing, in a way they had greater confidence in.
6. The church truly becomes family
It certainly is possible to love the people you’ve only been pastoring for a few years, or even a few months. But when you’re moving on to a new pastorate every couple of years, it’s not possible to truly become a spiritual family – at least not in anything but the “see you in heaven!” sense of that word.