Check out the latest 9Marks eJournal, Pastoral Moves. The editor writes,
“If you’re thinking of leaving your church for another, start with Michael Lawrence’s article on leaving wisely. In fact, look at Matt Schmucker’s even before you think about leaving. Have you looked yet? Okay, what about now? I’ve seen enough pastors come and go to know that Lawrence and Schmucker just might shift your paradigm.”
This issue was timely for me, and while Lawrence’s and Schmucker’s articles were excellent, the most insightful was from Jeramie Rinne. Rinne’s article, Staying to the Glory of God: One Preacher’s Death Wish, offers some incredible practical advice and is quite challenging towards what seems to be the general consensus among many pastors. Rinne challenges pastors to seriously work towards staying with the congregation they are pastoring because,
(1) Staying increasingly reflects the glory of God’s faithfulness;
(2) Staying creates opportunities to glorify God through more strategic gospel ministry;
(3) Staying challenges a pastor to make God’s glory his motivation for ministry.
His first piece of advice is quite helpful. Just as parents are a reflection of God’s character to their children, pastors can also provide a helpful reminder of God’s character as well. Thus, my prayer has become:
“Lord, help me stay faithful to Your people for Your glory. Help me to value longevity above and beyond personal preferences. Give me grace to love Your people and serve Your people and provide a Godly example for Your people. Amen.”
Luke, I think this is the ideal for many, if not most pastors, but I kow too it just doesn’t always work out that way – but I agree, in so far as it is possible, pastors should plan to stay for the long haul.
No, it doesn’t always work out 🙁 And, people need to be careful not to force principles upon decisions like this and must follow the leading of the Spirit.
That being said, in my experience this “leading” is often way too subjective and determined by things that are not good, hence the comment about personal preferences.
What do you think are those situations that SHOULD cause a pastor to transition? I’d love to know your thoughts!
This kind of biblical encouragement gets at the heart of what it means to be a pastor. A pastor is a shepherd, not a CEO.
I have been a full-time senior pastor since 1995. While the above article is nice, it’s not realistic. Most small churches, those under 100, are impossible to turn around and start growing again. These churches haved remained under 100 for a reason: “They don’t follow Christ, they don’t want to change even if the Spirit is leading and most will not follow the pastor. The Pastor is viewed as an outsider. They can always get another pastor. That is reality folks. The key to a pastor staying in one place for a long time is “compatibility.” I believe this is why pastors, myself included, continue to move around. We are just looking for a place where the people will follow, seek to glorify God and give honor to those who serve Him. I am on my fourth church…and I am still looking…