Thursday, October 28, 2010

Becoming a Statistic

When I was in seminary, the professors repeatedly lamented the fact that the average stay of a Southern Baptist pastor at a particular church was somewhere between two and four years. I heard various statistics, but they all seemed to fall in that range.

I've served as pastor of Chevis Oaks Baptist Church for about 2.5 years. This coming Sunday is my final day as pastor. God, in His grace, is allowing me to finish preaching through the book of Matthew on Sunday (I started about two years ago). What a great way to go out: preaching about our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. We will miss our friends there and look forward to visiting.

So I'm becoming a statistic. Instead of staying for years and years, I'm leaving like so many others.

Well, not exactly like so many others.

It would be interesting to do a study (maybe one's already been done?) to find out the reasons why pastors leave churches after a relatively short period of time. Some leave to go to bigger churches. Some leave because the church grows tired of them. Some leave for moral problems. Some leave just to get away.

Some leave because they feel convicted about it. That's the camp I'm in.

I'm a statistic. So be it. At least I'm not leaving to go to a bigger church because "God has called me to go there." I wonder how many pastors God has "called" to go to smaller churches?

So I didn't stay as long as my professors would have liked. It's safe to say I'm not leaving for reasons they would like either. Oh well.

As a semi-interesting footnote, many of my professors pastored numerous churches in a wide variety of states. I always wanted to ask them why they didn't stay in one place for long.

7 comments:

Joe G. said...

As a casual reader of your blog, and a Catholic, I would say you are on the right track. The spiritual life is a journey, and we view it differently. Where protestants talk about being saved as a one-time event, we think of it as past, present and future. I was saved, I am being saved, I will be saved. It is possible that some of those gospel uses of the verb are in a form of the Greek aorist tense which has no English equivalent. Here is a quote from a simple Google search - not sure it is authoritative but it makes the point:

"Only in the indicative mood does the aorist tense indicate past time. Many times the action of a verb is in the aorist subjunctive or aorist imperative, and will actually take place at a future time...."

Eric said...

Joe,

I'm not sure what this has to do with this post - I guess it is that life is a journey.

As for our view of salvation, you are right in that we do differ.

Where we agree is important though. We agree that we need a Savior, and that that Savior is Jesus Christ alone.

Arthur Sido said...

Eric, it might be true that professional pastors on stick around for a few years but wherever you are, ministering to others is a lifelong pursuit for all Christians!

Tim A said...

How long our how short a time span a man stays as pastor of one church is not a real problem that can be traced to any scripture. I'm sure that there are those who feel some sort of bragging rights because they "served for 20 years" or something like that, or that this displays a higher level of commitment to relationships. The real problem is not the time span but the existence of the clergy system itself. You are solving the real problem by exiting that system. Praise God you learned the truth about true reproductive, mutual spiritual leadership as soon as you did. Leave the bogus statistics behind. They are part of the old traditions of men.

Joe G
As a continuing protestant (I continue to protest the false traditions of past protestants) I agree with your past, present and future salvation. It might be possible to think some protestants only talk about the one point event of salvation to a larger degree than the rest, but I don't think very many disregard present and future salvation completely.

I have a question for you. What part does Mary play in your salvation (past, present, future) from the Bible's teaching?

Eric said...

Tim,

Thanks! I am looking forward to escaping from the clergy system. I'm looking forward to equal, edifying relationships based with my brothers and sisters in Christ. No more man-made systems for me!

craigbenno1 said...

One area of concern I have within church is that we consider any ministry our ministry, when in fact it is the Lords.

Therefore we have to hold onto every position with loose hands. Our job as a pastor is to both pastor and equip our church to do the work of pastoring,,,in doing so work ourselves out of a job so to speak.

Obedience to the Lord is paramount.One area of concern I do have within the church is burnout though... which is rife through every level of church and not just something that affects leadership.

Eric said...

Craig,

Thanks for commenting.

Why do you think pastors struggle with burnout so much? Do you think it has anything to do with them having too many responsibilities within the church?