A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Lifecycle of a Pastorate

Thom Raynor has noted what he believes is the typical lifecycle of a pastor's tenure at a church:
Honeymoon: Years 0 to 1

The new pastor is perceived to be the answer to all the needs and the problems of the church. He is often viewed as a hero because he is not his predecessor. Though some of his faults begin to show during this period, he is often given a pass. Expectations are high that he will be molded into the image that each congregant would like to have.

Crisis: Years 1 to 3

It is now apparent that the pastor is fully human. He has not lived up to the precise expectations of many of the members. This phase includes a number of conflicts and struggles. Indeed it is the most common time that pastors choose to leave the church or they are force terminated. This single epoch of a pastoral tenure contributes more to short tenures than any other time.

Realignment: Years 3 to 5

The number of crises begins to abate, though they do not disappear altogether. It is at this time that more and more new members come under the tenure of the new pastor. Some of the dissidents have left the church or the community. There is a realignment of loyalty and expectations of the pastor. Thus he is able to lead more effectively, and began to see some more productive years as pastor of the church.

Growth: Years 5 to 10

Not all pastors have productive and joyous ministries in this period, but many do. It is not unusual for the congregation to begin to appreciate the pastor more and to follow his leadership with greater enthusiasm. Many of the battles have already been fought; and many of the conflicts have been resolved. The pastor and the entire congregation are ready to move forward in more productive ministry for the glory of God.

Mystery: Years 10 and Beyond

There are relatively few pastors and congregations that continue their relationships beyond a period of one decade. Thus any perspective I have of long-term pastorates is inconclusive and limited. I am confident, however, that if we see more and more pastors entering their tenth year of ministry and beyond, we will see more productive and fruitful ministries in local churches across the nation.
You can read Raynor's entire post here.


hnb said...

You also have:
A pastor, no matter how good, will experience trials solely based on the fact that he/she is not the predecessor. Most will be removed after the second year.

Anonymous said...

As a pastor with 45 years of exper-ience, 42 of those years in the same small town church, I have seen
it all and then some. I feel very strongly that there are problems which arise that are no fault of either the pastor or the congrega-tion. One of the major problems is the almost total lack of Bible Colleges, Seminaries, and Theolog-
ical Schools to teach young pastors how to live with the usual disappointments they will face when their wonderful GUNG HO attitude for God is apparently NOT SHARED by the congregation which hired them to start with. Let us understand that most congregations which are forced by attrition of one sort or another to seek and hire a new pastor are, "in their minds", doing so
to take the load off of them and put that load squarely upon the shoulders of the new pastor. After all (their thinking here), this new
guy is the one getting paid, get-ting a free house, free utilities, and a free ride. Cushy job, you say
? Most folks seem to think so. Then when the new Pastor passes his
grace period and begins to push for the church Elders to actually do the jobs assigned to them in the
scriptures the Elders begin to find
flaws and the background of complaints begins to escalate. Sud-denly, Bingo, the New Pastor is under pressure to do it all even more than at the beginner of this ministry. After 42 plus years in the same congregation and having now a very erudite, knowledgeable, active, tithing church board of well educated individuals I still do 95 percent of the total calling that is done. Pastor Educational Schools, broaden you cirriculum and fit your people for the long term by showing them exactly what to expect in the real world of rising taxes, broken marriages, partner relationships, drugs, kids, gangs,and dying communities that are losing their small town identities because the New Pastor is the only one on the front line in the community which hired him.

Pastor Harry.