Leading for the Long Haul (by Ryan Abernathy)
There has always been a lot of turnover in ministry. The old statistics tell us that most youth pastors last 18 months and most pastors are up and gone within 3 years. Not sure how much this has changed over the years. There are a lot of issues making life hard for the local church in 2011, but I think lack of long term leadership has more to do with the church’s malaise than any other factor.
I think there are three main issues that lead to early departure.
Most pastoral types do not like to fight or they like to fight about the wrong things. Conflict derails a lot of ministries not because conflict is necessarily bad, but because we do not know how to fight Biblically. We get mad because we are crossed, or thwarted, or undermined and then we proceed to respond in kind. Not the recipe for long term success.
Most pastors get bored easily. The mundane daily routine does not suit their natures or personalities. They need change. Unfortunately, because many pastors do not like conflict (see point #1) they do not know how to change their current church. So they grow stale and bored because there are no new challenges except for fights to lose, so they leave to seek excitement elsewhere.
This is the big one. So many guys in ministry are chasing not the Lord but the Dollar. They see the church as a corporate ladder to be climbed. Start in Podunk Church “A” move to Small Town Church “D” then get called up to the big leagues at MiniMega Church “Q” in the Big City. All the while they are accumulating a new salary commiserate with their new “prestige position.” Unfortunately, this chase for the Dollar leaves behind a trail of weak and hurt churches who are less likely to trust in or partner with the next guy who comes along because he too will leave to chase Dollar when it comes calling.
Ryan Abernathy is a Jesus follower, a husband, a daddy, a pastor, and a thinker. He is the lead pastor of Journey Fellowship Church in Oklahoma City and 1/3 of WorkABull, a creative community. You can follow Ryan on Twitter or find him on Facebook. In OKC, you can probably find him at the Starbucks at the corner of MacArthur and NW Expressway drinking an Americano and banging away on the keyboard while listening to the most eclectic Ipod playlist ever.