There’s a boy in my church, I’ll call him Bobby, who was born in the fall of 2003. That would make him just over ten years old. Bobby is a great young man, articulate, smart, and very happy to follow Jesus.
I came to this church in January of 2004. Bobby was just a couple months old. I first saw him in his car seat, all bundled up against the subzero weather we had that January. I am the only pastor Bobby has ever had.
I love kids and always try to develop a personal relationship with the kids at our church. I want them to know some things:
Bobby is the kid who comes to my mind whenever I consider my commitment to my pastoral ministry here. Bobby has only known one pastor – his whole life. If I just stay eight more years Bobby can graduate having experienced one pastor and one church, for his entire childhood and teen years! Bobby will understand that the church, the body of Christ, is real, true, important, vital, and genuine.
If I can stay for at least eight more years, and Bobby’s parents continue at our church, Bobby will get to experience something precious few experience – church stability. A church literally living out the love and mission of the body of Christ is so important for a kid to actually believe. It’s important because a kid’s understanding, what is weaved into the fabric of his soul, is what the adults in his life live. They won’t learn from what we tell them – they’ll learn what we live.
Pastor, it’s important, that ministry you’re serving in today. And it’s not just important to the Bobby’s of your church – it’s important to all of the people in your church. The average church member, kid or adult, has to switch out pastors 2-5 times if they stay in a church for more than ten years. Pastoral turnover is bad for churches.
A recent study found that while long term pastorates do not guarantee a church will grow, short term pastorates (less than four years) absolutely do guarantee that a church will NOT grow.
We are not just talking about numbers growth here, but I believe this also relates to the personal spiritual growth of the people as well. Bobby will not grow as much spiritually if he has three or four different pastors before he is eighteen years old. His church certainly won’t grow.
Pastor, what did you commit to when God called you into ministry? Personal happiness? A nice part of the country? Having the mall just five minutes away? A warm climate? Or did you commit to people, and to the Gospel?
Did you enter pastoral ministry because God looked at you and said – “here is someone who will shepherd my sheep. Here is someone who will look at the crowds and will, like me, be moved with compassion for them. Here is someone who will feed, and not abandon, the flock.”?
What’s grinding on you Pastor? What’s making you want to leave? What are you committed to – the idea of ministry, the place where you minister, or the people to whom you minister? Does God really want you to leave them? Only you can answer that question. Make sure you have the right answer.
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