Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How Long Should a Pastor Stay?

I had a conversation with a gentleman recently.  As we talked, he felt obliged to share some of his views on the ways a church should be run (church polity).

As I asked him about pastors he had sat under at a church he had attended in the past, he mentioned a few names.  Then he smiled a little and said, "Preachers used to rotate from church to church every few years or so."  Pause.  He continued, "You're probably not going to like what I say, but I think that's a good thing."

He proceeded to tell me that it used to be that deacons ran the church, not the preacher.  "Yes," I said, "different churches are run in different fashions."

"How's it here?" he asked.

"Well, the pastor is the chairman of the board."

"That's not good," was his quick remark.

Interrupted by someone else, I did not get a chance to explain that the congregation has voted the pastor chairman of the board year after year.  Nor did I get to explain that the pastor has repeatedly, year after year, told the nominating committee, with utmost sincerity, that they may nominate someone else to be the chairman of the board.

As it happens, I disagree with this brother-in-Christ's take on church polity.  Before I was in the ministry I had already formed my strong belief, that, generally speaking, long-term ministry at one church is a good thing, better than moving from church to church every 4 or 5 years.

The ironic thing was this discussion took place on the 16th anniversary of my ministry at Northside.  I didn't mention that little detail in our conversation.


Anonymous said...


Dear Kent, IN MY OPINION...
It seems that in the New Testament, a pastor was a pastor of a church for life. FOR LIFE! Paul's "son" (In the faith), Timothy was a permanent pastor in his church. It seems that those having the gift of EVANGELIST (Ephesians 4:11), had a more mobile position than PASTORS OR, if you will, ELDERS or DEACONS -- those of a more PRESBYTERIAN nature. Paul once wrote to Timothy to "do the work of an EVANGELIST," but clearly, the apostle, Paul, did not intend for Timothy to leave his once-and-for-all local flock to do so (2 Timothy 4:5). Indeed, 2 Timothy 4 is clear instruction for Timothy to uphold and watch over the church over which he had been ordained.
The leaders of the Church of Ephesis were instructed by Paul: Acts 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Paul meant these instructions for the local leadership of the church in Acts chapter 20. What is more, it does not seem that Jesus in Revelation 1:20 was addressing a CHANGING LEADERSHIP of the Seven Churches. "The Angels, i.e., pastors, if you will or MESSENGERS of God's word were the permanent star-fixtures of the "candlesticks," allowing their light to shine that is in them. Christ was NOT ADDRESSING a shifting leadership of PRESBYTERS, in Revelation 20 by any means of some other interpretation. Stars are permanent fixtures in the dark world. It seems Pastors are too (Daniel 12:3). --Dad

Anonymous said...


This all reminds me of the relationships between Samuel and Saul and David. How much better was it for Israel before they were granted a king. Before that time Samuel was the ultimate authority among his people because of his direct link to God.

It seems better to me to give authority to the family member that serves God most diligently and most consistently. Not giving authority just based on leadership qualities. It seems we've been trying to re-establish this authority in our church ever since the time of the kings. It would be difficult for me to submit to a new pastor, and even more difficult if I knew he was going to be gone in a short time.

My suspicion is that some Christians have experienced pastors whom are neither diligent nor consistent, and the choice to change churches is not always available or correct. I have a pastor who has great leadership qualities, but doesn't seem to know scripture. He often times makes his sermons based on chain letter emails that can easily be shown fictitious. There have been many times I wish my church had a rotating system.

j.scantlin said...

I like the picture!