Hiring a preaching ...
There is a myth out there that the average tenure for a minister in churches is 18 months to two years. I’ve been a little suspicious of that number for years because I have hundreds of friends who preach and really can only think of one that has moved every 2 years or so. Most studies say the average stay for a preacher is in the five to seven year range, which is much more believable.
Furthermore most studies say that most ministries do better AFTER the seventh year of ministry. And think it through, most of the larger and more effective (not necessarily equals there) ministries can be traced to a long tenure of one ministry. You name me the church that grew strong in a string of revolving door ministers and I’ll buy you a - well, I won’t buy you anything but I will be shocked! It just doesn’t happen.
In addition (a word a whole lot like the word “furthermore” in the previous paragraph but I didn’t want to use that one again) mega-researcher Thom Rainer, author of “Surprising Insights from the Unchurched” reveals that the decision of who a church hires to stand in it’s pulpits is one of the most evangelistic decisions it can make.
Running “the scoop blog” I get to see and hear a lot about preacher hirings and firings. One thing I’ve noticed is that typically leaders hire a guy not like the last guy. Follow me? If the previous guy was known as studious spending a lot of time in his office studying the fellow who follows him will typically be a guy who is more gregarious and out among people. If the guy carries himself with age and maturity they will follow him in looking for a guy who is energetic and at least appears more youthful. They want a guy not like the previous guy. People complained that all he did is study and so they get a guy who is out and about, not as bookish. OR he didn’t prepare well was the chorus so they hire a fellow who is a real people person.
And the result seems to be that the fellow is compared to the previous guy or the one before who did well - AND he never measures up.
So, to do a little analysis of what often happens. The preacher gets tired of hearing complaints as the encouragers more and more take him for granted and he leaves. Or the elders put pressure on him to leave - either by stone walling on ideas, leaving him out of the loop or not even considering cost of living raises - so that he “gets the message”. Or there is a blowup and he leaves. So the elders look for a guy who is DIFFERENT from him. They bring the new guy in and the members complain that he is different.
What a sad merry-go-round. We need to figure out how to work together, how to encourage longer tenures that lead to healthier and more stable congregations, how to encourage our ministers who love and respect and strive to live the Word of God.
It’s not all preachers, it’s not all elders, it’s not all members fault - but we would do well to plan to love each other, to plan to work together.
Hiring a preaching ...