I have had the rich pleasure of being part of churches with pastors who desire to be in their roles for a long time.
My senior pastor now, Dave Bechtel, has been at Bethel for close to 30 years and it is encouraging and educational to see how his DNA and that of the church have melded in those years. His and others’ are stories of patience, waiting on the Lord, burying friends and discipling multiple generations. The idea of a long pastorate is not a new one but I am increasingly aware of young men who see each church as a stepping stone or stop on the journey. I notice the allure but I want to be among the many who spend their lives at one church, ministering to one community.
H.B. Charles Jr. has shared some thoughts in praise of the long pastorate and I commend them to you.
“I still believe it is best for pastors and congregations when a man plants his flag and determines to serve a local church for the long haul…”
“It takes time to nurture a healthy congregation. You can attract a crowd in no time. But a crowd is not a church. A church is made up those who trust, obey, worship, serve, give, witness, and suffer as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, not just people who show up on Sunday mornings. To nurture a Christ-centered, biblically functioning congregation requires teaching and patience. A mushroom can grow in hours. But it takes longer to grow an oak tree. What are you trying to grow?”
And his final call to pastors is important: “Brothers, churches are not stepping-stones. It is wrong to pastor a church looking out the window for a bigger or better opportunity to come a long. The souls over which the Lord has made you an overseer deserve your best. For that matter, the Lord demands your best.
“Be faithful right where you are. Work on the depth of your ministry and trust God to work on the breadth of your ministry. If the Lord intends for you to be somewhere, believe me, he knows how to get you there. Until then, plant your flag. Preach the word. Love the people you have been called to. Count it a privilege that the Lord would use you to lead his people. And serve the Lord with gladness.”
When the Lord calls me to be a lead pastor, I pray that he will allow me to be there for the long haul!
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