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Keys to a Long Pastorate

I was planning Eleanor's funeral when I realized how long I had been part of the life of her family. I had buried Eleanor's husband, performed the marriages of her two granddaughters, and baptized her only great-grandchild. Now after eleven years here, I was working with her daughter on her funeral. I have become a fixture to Eleanor's family. I feel myself becoming a fixture to other families as well.

Long tenures in parish ministry are puzzling. As we watch others who stay on and on, we cannot help but wonder if something has gone amiss in their career. Long-tenured incumbents seem abnormal in a culture accustomed to three-year shifts and upward mobility.

Starting a new ministry has challenges, but so does staying year after year. Here are some of the struggles unique to long-term pastors.

A Special Call and the Long Haul

When pastors first arrive, there is always some issue they feel especially pressed to resolve. Sometimes the issue is falling membership and attendance; sometimes there ...

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