Negatives of Long Pastorates

What are the downsides of pastors who stay in one place for 10, 15, 20 years?

These are the problems I’ve heard about, some I’ve seen, but most of them I disagree with:

  • the pastor may run out of spiritual insight or spiritual energy over the long haul
  • the church may stagnate and won’t change under the pastor who won’t change (‘we tried that n years ago, didn’t work’)
  • it makes it hard for the next pastor to follow in the footsteps of such a long ministry
  • it is unfair for people to be ‘stuck’ with one pastor for so long
  • people need a diversity of pastors to learn new or different things
  • the people are transient and will move around anyway
  • long ministry may tend to be more inward looking rather than evangelistic

Any others?

3 thoughts on “Negatives of Long Pastorates”

  1. I think nearly all those are disproved by a quick look around Melbourne.

    St Judes, St Hillarys, HTD are all where they are today because of long (10+ year) stays as vicars.

    Same goes with most large sized youth ministry (they’ve had a long serving Youth Minister)

    Even in Hobart, the biggest (and still one of the biggest) Anglican Churches there for a while was St Clements that had a 30+ year vicar.

    Long is the way to go. Although some people probably can stay too long. All depends on context.

  2. Good series Wayne.

    (I like your reasons for a long pastorate by the way.)

    I think most of these are bad reasons but some are good and we need to think how to overcome them:
    * the pastor may run out of spiritual insight or spiritual energy over the long haul
    * the church may stagnate and won’t change under the pastor who won’t change (’we tried that n years ago, didn’t work’)
    There is some truth here, as you get used to a place you develop blind spots someone new will be able to see.
    * it makes it hard for the next pastor to follow in the footsteps of such a long ministry
    * it is unfair for people to be ’stuck’ with one pastor for so long
    * people need a diversity of pastors to learn new or different things
    * the people are transient and will move around anyway
    * long ministry may tend to be more inward looking rather than evangelistic
    This can be true in that someone builds up a reputation based on their long standing association with the church and reputations, good or bad can be spirtually harmful.

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