The 5 Biggest Dangers Of A Long-Term Pastorate – And How To Avoid Them

No pastor should ever stop learning – not if we hope to stay effective.

Pastorates are getting longer.

This is mostly good news for pastors, their families, and the churches they serve. (As we saw in my previous article, 8 Benefits Of Investing A Lifetime Of Ministry Into One Congregation.)

But there are a few inherent dangers to staying in one church for a long time. As someone who celebrates 26 years at the same church this month, here are the top 5 dangers I’m constantly trying to avoid, in no particular order:

1. Getting Stuck In A Rut

2. Getting Stuck In A Rut

3. Getting Stuck In A Rut

4. Getting Stuck In A Rut

5. Getting Stuck In A Rut

Yeah, that’s about it. If you can stay out of that rut, a long-term pastorate is best for everyone. So, how do we avoid getting stuck?

Here are a handful of lessons I keep learning that help me stay fresh, excited and forward-looking after two and a half decades at the same church.

Stay Curious

If the pastor isn’t learning and growing, the congregation will be able to tell. Maybe before we can.

The same old stories, the same tired ideas, the same worn out excuses…

You may have left your formal schooling decades ago, but no pastor should ever stop learning – not if we hope to stay effective.

The wisest, most joyous, most delightful people to be around are those who keep a spirit of curiosity about everything. They’re never satisfied with what they know. And they’re ready and willing to learn from as many sources as possible. Even (especially?) from people who hold views they disagree with.

Listen More Than You Talk

People may get tired of hearing you talk, but they’ll never get tired of having you listen.

People who talk all the time are exhausting. People who listen well are inspiring.

And if you can listen well, then reflect …

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