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Thread: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

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    Senior Member Wilson Deaton's Avatar

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    Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    While admitting all his data wasn't from one consistent study, Thom Rainer shows that over the last ten years the average tenure for pastors has climbed from 3.6 years in 1996 to 6 years in 2016. (Though I notice that it seems to have plateaued at 6 years.)

    He then gives six reasons (his theory) for this rise.

    http://thomrainer.com/2017/03/six-re...be-increasing/

    Wilson
    "But by the grace of God I am what I am." (1 Cor. 15:10)

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    Senior Member Wilson Deaton's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    My own tenures:
    • 3 years
    • 7 years
    • 2 years
    • 17 years and counting
    Wilson
    "But by the grace of God I am what I am." (1 Cor. 15:10)
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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Mine have been:
    1 Year, Sole Pastor (CotN)
    2 Years, Sole Pastor (CotN)
    2 Years, Director of Youth Ministry in a church placement. (CotN)
    11 Years, Sole Pastor (CotN)
    5 Years, Parish Minister (UCA)
    7 Years so far of a 10 year placement (i.e. 2 - 5 year calls) Parish Minister (UCA)

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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    4 years - Associate pastor
    13 years Lead pastor
    9 years Lead Pastor - and counting, would like to retire from this place.
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    14 1/2 years here, and by several years the longest tenured pastor in the church's history.

    I'm also too old to receive a call to anywhere else, but still only one bad sermon away from working as a greeter at Walmart. (I look good in blue.)


    Back to the OP - I think the reasons cited in the article are reasonable, but context is everything. I do hear more and more pastors in their 30s and 40s say they would like to stay where they are, rather than looking for the next place.
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    Senior Member Bud Pugh's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    I am of the mind that in our setting there are 3 contributing factors besides those mentioned, things that have taken almost a generation to prove out.

    1. A realization that short pastoral tenures were killing us- pastoral families and churches alike.
    2. The institution of the church/pastor review and the end of the recall vote.
    3. An increase in home ownership by pastors.

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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Rainer brushes against it, but never quite names what I think is a contributing factor for longer stays: working pastor's wives.

    More women are doing professional jobs and becoming the primary wage earners in homes where the husband is pastor. Just packing up and moving to another church is less attractive when it means giving up half or more of the household income.

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    Senior Member Greg Farra's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    Rainer brushes against it, but never quite names what I think is a contributing factor for longer stays: working pastor's wives.

    More women are doing professional jobs and becoming the primary wage earners in homes where the husband is pastor. Just packing up and moving to another church is less attractive when it means giving up half or more of the household income.
    And also losing health insurance. That has been an issue with us. I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee last year, and with a $1000 deductible and insurance paying 80%, it cost me about $2000 or so. That was for minor surgery. We could not afford in this day and age to go without insurance or try and find an affordable policy.. I also need periodic colonoscopies because I am at risk for colon cancer. We will not be moving unless we hear a clear call from God, not the DS.

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Farra View Post
    We will not be moving unless we hear a clear call from God, not the DS.
    So you distinguish between the two?

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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kennedy View Post
    So you distinguish between the two?
    You beat me to it.
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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Finch View Post
    You beat me to it.
    Years ago I was at the Bob Hope Desert Classic - a friend and I were following Glen Campbell around. He got off a very good tee shot and when someone complimented him he observed, "Even a blind hog finds an acorn sometime."
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    Rainer brushes against it, but never quite names what I think is a contributing factor for longer stays: working pastor's wives.

    More women are doing professional jobs and becoming the primary wage earners in homes where the husband is pastor. Just packing up and moving to another church is less attractive when it means giving up half or more of the household income.
    Haha, yes. Rainer has to soft-pedal factors that don't reinforce SBC gender roles, a la June Cleaver.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilson Deaton View Post
    While admitting all his data wasn't from one consistent study, Thom Rainer shows that over the last ten years the average tenure for pastors has climbed from 3.6 years in 1996 to 6 years in 2016. (Though I notice that it seems to have plateaued at 6 years.)

    He then gives six reasons (his theory) for this rise.

    http://thomrainer.com/2017/03/six-re...be-increasing/

    Wilson
    Rainer's conclusion:

    Overall, these trends encourage me. They bode well for the future of our congregations. I indeed pray that longer tenure will result in healthier churches.
    Given that the reasons are mostly about convenience and economics, any missional benefits of longer tenure will surely be accidental at best.

    But given that this is the same researcher who 'found' that unchurched Harry and Mary really just want a meaty, expository sermon and some fibrous doctrinal vagaries, I suppose that delusional conclusions are nothing new for Rainer.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Other than the 17 years I've served as pastor here, I've only served in one other place... the one year I was an associate pastor at our parent church in the lead-up to planting this church. Since that was part of the launching of this church, and that was the plan from the start, I don't think it should count against my average.

    My hope is to stay here until I'm retired or until the church doesn't want/need me anymore, whichever comes first.

    To the point of the article: It was always our intention to plant a church where we could stay, for life if need be. Part of our thinking was the awareness of the benefit of a long tenure serving in one place. The fact that my wife has a full-time career here certainly helps keep us rooted. (She also makes twice what I do, including our health insurance, but that's not as much of a deciding factor as the fulfillment she gets from doing what she's called to do.) We now have twin 1-year-old boys, so that will likely encourage us to stay put for the next 17 years or so. Plus our parents live close, and as they get older, we'll be less likely to move away. Oh, and we're homeowners, too.

    Have I checked all the boxes yet?
    Thanks Craig Laughlin, Wilson Deaton, Billy Cox - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    Other than the 17 years I've served as pastor here, I've only served in one other place... the one year I was an associate pastor at our parent church in the lead-up to planting this church. Since that was part of the launching of this church, and that was the plan from the start, I don't think it should count against my average.

    My hope is to stay here until I'm retired or until the church doesn't want/need me anymore, whichever comes first.

    To the point of the article: It was always our intention to plant a church where we could stay, for life if need be. Part of our thinking was the awareness of the benefit of a long tenure serving in one place. The fact that my wife has a full-time career here certainly helps keep us rooted. (She also makes twice what I do, including our health insurance, but that's not as much of a deciding factor as the fulfillment she gets from doing what she's called to do.) We now have twin 1-year-old boys, so that will likely encourage us to stay put for the next 17 years or so. Plus our parents live close, and as they get older, we'll be less likely to move away. Oh, and we're homeowners, too.

    Have I checked all the boxes yet?
    I wonder aloud whether this trend applies to denominations using episcopalian polity.

    Increased pastoral tenure will be good for some congregations and catastrophic for others.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    I wonder aloud whether this trend applies to denominations using episcopalian polity.

    Increased pastoral tenure will be good for some congregations and catastrophic for others.
    I know a couple United Methodist pastors have told me that their church is much more open to longer tenures than they used to be (used to move pastors every 2-4 years), especially for churches that are somewhat unique... especially new starts that take off (Church of the Resurrection, Granger Community Church, etc)... or even ones that don't grow huge, like a campus here in our town that spun off into its own congregation a decade or so ago.
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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    We're about to add a 23-year tenure to the record. That should help the average.

    The question now is how long a successor to a 23-year tenure can stay.
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.
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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    We're about to add a 23-year tenure to the record. That should help the average.

    The question now is how long a successor to a 23-year tenure can stay.
    Probably not nearly as long. A friend of mine who was a denominational executive with the Reformed Church in America said that the stats (not just RCA) showed that, whether the predecessor's tenure was benign or toxic, it took a while for a congregation to 'get over' a pastor. That was one of the reasons he was developing a cadre of ministers who would serve as 'intentional' interim pastors. For the most part they would not be eligible to to be called to the congregations they served.

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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kennedy View Post
    Probably not nearly as long. A friend of mine who was a denominational executive with the Reformed Church in America said that the stats (not just RCA) showed that, whether the predecessor's tenure was benign or toxic, it took a while for a congregation to 'get over' a pastor. That was one of the reasons he was developing a cadre of ministers who would serve as 'intentional' interim pastors. For the most part they would not be eligible to to be called to the congregations they served.
    Thanks to seeing that recommendation around here multiple times and watching my home church become a "church in crisis" after a dynamic pastor left, I asked about an interim period during our meeting with our D.S., but he seems inclined to move ahead with a placement. I hope it works. Of the 80 or so people who walk through our doors every month, fewer than 15 were around for our last pastoral transition. It is definitely going to be an adjustment for the congregation. 23 years is a long time!

    The "benign or toxic" phrase you used is interesting. It sounds like there may be rough waters ahead.
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    Thanks to seeing that recommendation around here multiple times and watching my home church become a "church in crisis" after a dynamic pastor left, I asked about an interim period during our meeting with our D.S., but he seems inclined to move ahead with a placement. I hope it works. Of the 80 or so people who walk through our doors every month, fewer than 15 were around for our last pastoral transition. It is definitely going to be an adjustment for the congregation. 23 years is a long time!

    The "benign or toxic" phrase you used is interesting. It sounds like there may be rough waters ahead.
    I hate to be a glass-half-empty person (well, I don't hate it much) but lengthening pastoral tenures could simply guarantee that more congregations find themselves irreparably damaged by the time their pastor moves on voluntarily.

    What's worse than smoking two packs of Camels a day?

    Answer: Doing it for 23 years.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
    Thanks John Kennedy, Tim Troxler - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    I hate to be a glass-half-empty person (well, I don't hate it much) . . .
    For what it's worth, you've always seemed to me to be a constant ball of optimistic sunshine.
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Finch View Post
    For what it's worth, you've always seemed to me to be a constant ball of optimistic sunshine.
    Everybody is an optimist on certain topics. Based on careful consideration and reflective experience, I am not optimistic about the 'Nazarene Future'. Even the BGS thought it best to suppress details of the commission's report. Why do you suppose they did that? I'll go out on a limb and wager that the report doesn't exactly read like Revelation 21.

    Given that I am a poor liar, I will not feign enthusiasm for a losing/lost cause. However, I remain optimistic for the good people who are committed to making their corner of the Sears-store-of-denominations the best it can be, even while the larger organization succumbs to institutional rot.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Everybody is an optimist on certain topics. Based on careful consideration and reflective experience, I am not optimistic about the 'Nazarene Future'. Even the BGS thought it best to suppress details of the commission's report. Why do you suppose they did that? I'll go out on a limb and wager that the report doesn't exactly read like Revelation 21.

    Given that I am a poor liar, I will not feign enthusiasm for a losing/lost cause. However, I remain optimistic for the good people who are committed to making their corner of the Sears-store-of-denominations the best it can be, even while the larger organization succumbs to institutional rot.
    You do you.

    I'm just teasing. I don't always agree with the level of cynicism you sometimes communicate, but I appreciate the important role that you have played in putting pressure on the institution and helping to expose various problems. coughNPHGATEcough
    StrengthsFinder Top 5: Input ---------- Intellection ---------- Connectedness ---------- Context ---------- Belief

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Finch View Post
    You do you.

    I'm just teasing. I don't always agree with the level of cynicism you sometimes communicate, but I appreciate the important role that you have played in putting pressure on the institution and helping to expose various problems. coughNPHGATEcough
    I see good-natured teasing like a velvet-covered brick. I accept that *your* velvet-to-brick ratio is generous, but other friends of the institution would just assume that I deserve far more brick than velvet.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
    Thanks Lucas Finch - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    I hate to be a glass-half-empty person (well, I don't hate it much) but lengthening pastoral tenures could simply guarantee that more congregations find themselves irreparably damaged by the time their pastor moves on voluntarily.

    What's worse than smoking two packs of Camels a day?

    Answer: Doing it for 23 years.
    This is quite the analogy.

    Do you know what's better than smoking two packs of Camels a day?

    Answer: Never smoking a cigarette ever. And never sharing air space with a smoker. Cigarette smoke causes cancer and other dreadful diseases.

    Are you saying pastors are toxic in any quantity?

    On the other hand, do you know what's worse than smoking two packs of Camels a day for 23 years?

    Answer: Doing it for 24 years.

    Once a person has smoked for 23 years, there's no way to decrease that number. The only way forward is forward. Telling them they should have quit 10 or 20 years earlier is not exactly helpful unless you have Superman or someone around to turn back time.
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.
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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    This is quite the analogy.

    Do you know what's better than smoking two packs of Camels a day?

    Answer: Never smoking a cigarette ever. And never sharing air space with a smoker. Cigarette smoke causes cancer and other dreadful diseases.

    Are you saying pastors are toxic in any quantity?

    On the other hand, do you know what's worse than smoking two packs of Camels a day for 23 years?

    Answer: Doing it for 24 years.

    Once a person has smoked for 23 years, there's no way to decrease that number. The only way forward is forward. Telling them they should have quit 10 or 20 years earlier is not exactly helpful unless you have Superman or someone around to turn back time.
    I think he's saying that a long pastoral tenure isn't necessarily a good thing. Sometimes it is, sure. But sometimes the pastor should've been asked to leave long ago... and if the church or DS never take that step, the pastor could just be doing more and more damage until finally deciding to leave.
    Thanks Tim Troxler, Billy Cox - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    I think he's saying that a long pastoral tenure isn't necessarily a good thing. Sometimes it is, sure. But sometimes the pastor should've been asked to leave long ago... and if the church or DS never take that step, the pastor could just be doing more and more damage until finally deciding to leave.
    Thanks, Rich. I did get the message and don't necessarily disagree with it. I just found the analogy interesting since it likened having a pastor to smoking cigarettes, which is good to avoid completely.

    Also, as someone who has already "smoked" for 23 years, I'm not sure what value there is in pointing out that doing so is not a good idea (other than a warning to others). I guess the best we can do is honor those who finally managed to make a continued relationship too painful to consider and make sure we mentor someone from the younger generation to fill that role for the next pastor before lung cancer sets in.

    Personally, I am thrilled I managed to escape membership on the "kick the habit" committee. My observation is that it takes a lot of jaw-setting and negativity to override the positive outcome of a pastoral review and turn the relationship sour. And that negativity doesn't neatly stay in the one compartment of the pastoral relationship. It tends to spill over into all of life.

    The outcome may be the best one possible apart from a 22-year tenure, which is still worse than a 21-year tenure. In fact, with cigarettes as the analogy, the best case scenario is no pastoral relationship at all. But, whatever... As per another thread, we can see this as a blessing and thank God for those who saved us from 24 years, but I'm still really glad to not be the baseball bat needed to end it all.
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    Thanks, Rich. I did get the message and don't necessarily disagree with it. I just found the analogy interesting since it likened having a pastor to smoking cigarettes, which is good to avoid completely.

    Also, as someone who has already "smoked" for 23 years, I'm not sure what value there is in pointing out that doing so is not a good idea (other than a warning to others). I guess the best we can do is honor those who finally managed to make a continued relationship too painful to consider and make sure we mentor someone from the younger generation to fill that role for the next pastor before lung cancer sets in.

    Personally, I am thrilled I managed to escape membership on the "kick the habit" committee. My observation is that it takes a lot of jaw-setting and negativity to override the positive outcome of a pastoral review and turn the relationship sour. And that negativity doesn't neatly stay in the one compartment of the pastoral relationship. It tends to spill over into all of life.

    The outcome may be the best one possible apart from a 22-year tenure, which is still worse than a 21-year tenure. In fact, with cigarettes as the analogy, the best case scenario is no pastoral relationship at all. But, whatever... As per another thread, we can see this as a blessing and thank God for those who saved us from 24 years, but I'm still really glad to not be the baseball bat needed to end it all.
    Yes, I think the value is primarily in warning others... and helping people to see that long pastoral tenures are not necessarily positive. They are if it's a good/great pastor. They aren't if things turn toxic (which then makes the smoking analogy apt, I think).

    The way I read it, the analogy doesn't liken having a pastor to smoking cigarettes. It likens having a bad pastor to smoking cigarettes.

    I'm sorry that you feel your current situation fits the bill. I certainly hope my congregation doesn't, as I'm about to hit 17 years... and counting.
    Thanks Billy Cox - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    I'm sorry that you feel your current situation fits the bill. I certainly hope my congregation doesn't, as I'm about to hit 17 years... and counting.
    I said I don't disagree that long-term pastorates can be unhealthy, but I certainly didn't say that is the case locally because I don't know that it is. I have no way to predict how the length of the pastorate behind us will affect us going forward other than to look at negative statistics and then try to come up with reasons we might somehow be an exception. I guess we'll see as we move forward in the days to come.

    The information John Kennedy shared in post #18 says even "benign" long-term pastors, not just the toxic ones, leave a long shadow that can adversely affect the future of the church. My experience is that "beloved" pastors also leave long shadows because the next pastor can't measure up to "good ol' Brother Jones." We once had a pastor for seven years (the longest tenure in the history of the church until the one just ending) who led us to record-breaking attendance. The next two pastors had to endure tales of how Brother Sneed did things so much better. I would say the pressure associated with those tales lasted at least as long as his tenure had.

    We know that short tenures hinder the effectiveness of a pastor. It seems that long tenures also have inherent problems. I'm not sure where the perfect length can be found.
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.

  30. #30
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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    [QUOTE=at
    We know that short tenures hinder the effectiveness of a pastor. It seems that long tenures also have inherent problems. I'm not sure where the perfect length can be found.[/QUOTE]

    Send Wes Smith out to look for another opossum skeleton. Maybe if he takes the time to burn this liver on this one (although God knows finding an intact liver around a skeleton is dicey - maybe finding such is a sign itself) you might get some word from the Lord.
    Laughing Lucas Finch - thanks for this funny post

  31. #31
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    I said I don't disagree that long-term pastorates can be unhealthy, but I certainly didn't say that is the case locally because I don't know that it is. I have no way to predict how the length of the pastorate behind us will affect us going forward other than to look at negative statistics and then try to come up with reasons we might somehow be an exception. I guess we'll see as we move forward in the days to come.

    The information John Kennedy shared in post #18 says even "benign" long-term pastors, not just the toxic ones, leave a long shadow that can adversely affect the future of the church. My experience is that "beloved" pastors also leave long shadows because the next pastor can't measure up to "good ol' Brother Jones." We once had a pastor for seven years (the longest tenure in the history of the church until the one just ending) who led us to record-breaking attendance. The next two pastors had to endure tales of how Brother Sneed did things so much better. I would say the pressure associated with those tales lasted at least as long as his tenure had.

    We know that short tenures hinder the effectiveness of a pastor. It seems that long tenures also have inherent problems. I'm not sure where the perfect length can be found.
    As leadership transitions go, I daresay that succession for any Nazarene congregation is relatively simple and is complicated only to the degree that small, defeated minds are allowed to prevail.

    Despite this, I am still a fan of reality and pragmatic solutions, so if a long-tenure pastor has operated as though his days as pastor would never come to an end, then sure, it might take a several months or maybe 1-2 years for an interim pastor to clean up the mess left behind by even a 'successful' pastor. (I say 'his', because a female pastor would probably not be so short-sighted, nor so long-tenured)

    When I think of a long-tenured pastor, whose congregation is no better off than the day he started, I think it's an example where he should have been fired long ago for non-performance reasons. At the very least, consuming 10-20+ years of salary/benefits in a growing community, yet showing only one-talent outcomes is clear evidence of poor stewardship by both pastor and congregation. It should be called failure, since that's precisely what it is.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  32. #32
    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    When I think of a long-tenured pastor, whose congregation is no better off than the day he started, I think it's an example where he should have been fired long ago for non-performance reasons. At the very least, consuming 10-20+ years of salary/benefits in a growing community, yet showing only one-talent outcomes is clear evidence of poor stewardship by both pastor and congregation. It should be called failure, since that's precisely what it is.
    So... if a group of 60 or 70 people fail to attract more people than they run off it's the pastor's fault?

    This seems like a sweet deal for us laypeople!

    Yep. Tell the bum, "We could be so much more effective at winning the lost if only you were a better person."
    Only the power of the Holy Spirit can get truth past the obvious.
    Thanks Kevin Rector - "thanks" for this post

  33. #33
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    So... if a group of 60 or 70 people fail to attract more people than they run off it's the pastor's fault?

    This seems like a sweet deal for us laypeople!

    Yep. Tell the bum, "We could be so much more effective at winning the lost if only you were a better person."
    Nope. I said 'both pastor and congregation', so there is no escape clause.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  34. #34
    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    As leadership transitions go, I daresay that succession for any Nazarene congregation is relatively simple and is complicated only to the degree that small, defeated minds are allowed to prevail.

    Despite this, I am still a fan of reality and pragmatic solutions, so if a long-tenure pastor has operated as though his days as pastor would never come to an end, then sure, it might take a several months or maybe 1-2 years for an interim pastor to clean up the mess left behind by even a 'successful' pastor. (I say 'his', because a female pastor would probably not be so short-sighted, nor so long-tenured)

    When I think of a long-tenured pastor, whose congregation is no better off than the day he started, I think it's an example where he should have been fired long ago for non-performance reasons. At the very least, consuming 10-20+ years of salary/benefits in a growing community, yet showing only one-talent outcomes is clear evidence of poor stewardship by both pastor and congregation. It should be called failure, since that's precisely what it is.
    I'm a pretty strong advocate of the contextual nature of parish ministry, so I'm always appreciative when someone over a thousand miles away, with no experience in my particular context, labels me a failure.
    "Fully embracing the Gospel, fully engaging the world"
    Thanks Lucas Finch, Kevin Rector - "thanks" for this post

  35. #35
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    I'm a pretty strong advocate of the contextual nature of parish ministry, so I'm always appreciative when someone over a thousand miles away, with no experience in my particular context, labels me a failure.
    The label only applies if you think of your outcomes as 'one talent' - as in resources buried or squandered. I can't imagine that you would describe your ministry that way, so if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  36. #36
    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: Average Length of Pastoral Tenure Continues to Rise

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.
    Ah, yes. The Russian epic of Cinderella.

    StrengthsFinder Top 5: Input ---------- Intellection ---------- Connectedness ---------- Context ---------- Belief

    Myers-Briggs Type: Introversion ---------- Intuition ---------- Feeling ---------- Perception (INFP)

    My Website & Blog: alucasfinch.net
    Thanks David Troxler - "thanks" for this post
    Laughing Billy Cox, David Troxler - thanks for this funny post

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