10 Things to Help You Stay Longer Than the Average Pastor

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We must address the epidemic of pastors leaving their churches.

This may be the most important article I have ever written.

The Barna Group reported in a 2009 study that senior pastors of mainline churches have an average tenure of only four years. One of the reasons cited for such a brief stay is that while 93 percent of all pastors claim to be leaders, only 12 percent claim to have the spiritual gift of leadership. 

You can read the full article by clicking here.

The epidemic of pastors leaving their churches, regardless of the reason, is an issue that must be addressed. However, since I have never been a senior pastor, I wanted someone with credibility to speak into this issue.

Dr. Brian Stowe accepted the position of senior pastor of Maysville (Ga.) Baptist Church in 1997. For the past 16 years, he has led this great church with integrity and excellence. I have visited their church on a couple of occasions, and was immediately impressed with the love that exists between this pastor and his congregation.

I felt impressed to ask Brian, in the current Christian culture of short-term pastorates, what has he done that has allowed him to have such a long tenure at this church.

His incredibly insightful answers are something all Christian leaders need to hear.

1. An Awesome Spouse

I did not expect this to be his #1 answer. Brian’s wife, Bonnie, provides him with incredible support.

She keeps the balance between his work and home life. Bonnie also ensures Brian gets proper rest. Also, because he has such a balanced life, she can then release him during busy seasons of the church to be there more often.

2. Support Staff

The Maysville staff, led by business administrator Robert Dial, are flexible and patient. Brian and I laughed when he said, “Sometimes when I want to do something, they just scratch their heads and then say, ‘Let’s get it done.’”

That is a mark of a great church staff.

Brian Dodd Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.

More from Brian Dodd or visit Brian at http://briandoddonleadership.com

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  • http://Rickenba.ch/blog/en Ralph M. Rickenbach

    How about knowing that you are called to where you are?

    • Pastor C. D. Jennings

      Not sure that the calling tip preach or pastor can be as simple as saying the Lord called you to a place. I believe it’s the labor to which ministers and faith leaders are called. The psalm said whatsoever he does shall prosper and not so much wherever he rests. Sounds like your pastor of study hasn’t gotten comfortable but has stayed fresh and kept the church vibrant. I believe that’s evidence his stay is justified. It remains a work and not just a job.

      • http://Rickenba.ch/blog/en Ralph M. Rickenbach

        I personally believe that pastors are planted like trees – from Psalms too. God gives callings and spheres of influence. Since Christianity is all about relationship, I do not believe in changing pastors or churches unless called to do so.
        In fact, I believe that believers are called to follow a pastoral apostolic team and flock to them, not the other way around.

    • mark

      Some people are not called to stay in the same place for long periods of time. And some people stay in places of comfort for far too long, and need to move on.

      • http://Rickenba.ch/blog/en Ralph M. Rickenbach

        I absolutely agree. Paul is a superb example for this. On the other hand, pastors are called to care for people, which is not possible without a trust relationship – thus most will stay longer.

        Christianity is no lone rider thing. It’s a team thing. Being planted in a team and a church is much more important than being planted in a place. Thus if you belong to a ministry team, that is your brook you are planted on.

  • Christian Salzillo

    Superb article! And I’m thankful for my AWESOME Spouse!!!

  • normanprather

    My wife is still angry I’m no longer in the pastorate. However it was killing me, damaging our children, and hurting her. Finally, after years of unemployment we are close to digging out of the financial hole serving the church helped dig. The only thing not hurt was the church, because it died long ago.

  • aaron

    mildly upset: Praying for you! I have and continue rto have days like that

  • Ryan

    Pastors are like the hirelings Jesus spoke of in John 10. Dogs bark because they are dogs and cats meow because they are cats. Hireling flee because they are hirelings when wolves come… when problems arise. This isn’t a condemnations but just a fact. No human can be a good shepherd like Jesus. God is with His sheep 24/7 and pastors just can’t do that. God has tremendous patients with people’s issues where pastors don’t. This isn’t a condemnation. We’re just human. Things go bad with people in a church and leaving for another church is just a way out of a bad situation. That’s understandable. There is room for growth in pastors for longentivity in a church. Pastors just have to do thier best, make good choices and hope all goes well.

  • http://MaximizingMarriage.com/ Sebs | MaximizingMarriage.com

    Amen! Thanks for sharing these things. I will take these to heart as I serve as a pastor.

  • Manie

    Ryan, sorry you’ve got it wrong. Pastors are not the hirelings. They are called men of God. If they were treated and respected like that there will not be pastors like “mildly upset”. It is a pity and a big shame that people see pastors as hirelings and therefore treats them that way. That is why they leave. Troops in the army get more respect than what Pastors get. The church is not a business and cannot be treated us such. It is a living organism. Take out business principles and reshape it to Biblical principles and then even God will have a rightful place in the church again. People believe the harder a Pastor suffer, the better he will be. Shame on you. The church is actually suppose to take care of the Pastors. Bossy people in churches must become real followers of Christ then things will change as well. If they follow, and not boss around, even God will be able to show the way through His Holy Spirit. We as Christ followers actually need to be ashamed of the state of the Churches in general. We need to serve God, not people. Look at the pastor as a man Called of God and don’t compare him with other Pastors, they all differ from each other and are uniquely gifted. Rather help them to spend enough time with God and that they can become Godly men, to serve and lead like Christ. May God help us to to treat His servants as he expected us to do. Greetings and Blessings.


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