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Pastor's Article

posted Jul 16, 2013, 10:53 AM by First Baptist

 “Why are you leaving us?” the young girl asked.


“Excuse me?”


“Why are you leaving us?”



Evidently, the questioner had overheard her parents speculating as to when I would be leaving First Baptist Harlan. I hope it wasn’t wishful thinking on their partJ


Actually, it is around this point (I’ve been here 3 years) that many pastors start thinking about their next church. It’s also the point where some of the church members start thinking about (wishing for) a new pastor.


According to the Barna Research Group, the average pastoral tenure in Protestant churches is only 4 years. This is a sad commentary on the state of the Church in America.


So what happens at this point (3-4 years) in a pastor’s tenure?


From the Pastor’s Perspective


From the pastor’s standpoint, the honeymoon is over and it’s back to reality as far as the normal struggles of church life. By the 4th year, a pastor might be frustrated in his desire to bring about meaningful change. He might also perceive the church as resistant to being challenged in their discipleship, preferring a pastor who only says things that go down easily. Finally, after 3-4 years, the pastor might feel unappreciated or tired of being criticized.


From the Member’s Perspective


The frustration & disappointment often cuts both ways. Usually, by the 4th year, the pastor’s weaknesses & shortcomings have become apparent. Of the 3 major pastoral responsibilities (preaching, leadership and pastoral care), most pastors struggle in at least one. Also, like people in general, pastors have unattractive qualities that can prove irritating. Finally, the pastor too is a sinner who falls short of God’s glory. For all these reasons, a member might begin to wonder “Can’t we do better than this guy?”


Most Fruitful Years


When these two perspectives collide, it often results in a pastoral vacancy. Here’s why that is so unfortunate: Numerous studies have found that a pastor’s most fruitful years at a church don’t BEGIN until the 5th year.


This means that many pastors & churches don’t persist with each other long enough to realize this fruitfulness. To put in agricultural terms, the corn is harvested too early, resulting in a poor yield.


It is important for the pastor & members to persist with each other through problems, misunderstandings and difficulties. Doing so glorifies God and will strengthen both the pastor and church.


With appreciation,


Pastor Dan