Is itineracy still the best way of deploying pastors? Is it realistic in our day and age to move pastors every few years just ‘because’? And is that kind of mobility helping our churches or hurting them?
That’s the question I’ve been pondering lately. Recent statistics on church health seem to point toward a connection between longer pastorates and vital churches. That is, the longer a pastor stays in a church the better off that church tends to be.
If a pastor stays in church only one or two years, the church seems to suffer for it, according to what I’m reading these days. Apparently, the lack of continuity hurts the church. Three or four years in a church is better, but still the rapid transition between pastors and the consequent change in direction for the church seems to hurt the church as well. Stunted growth in discipleship and ministry/mission tend to result.
Whereas, if a pastor is able to stay in a church at least 7 years, good things start to happen. The continuity in leadership and direction make for a solid foundation for ministry. Even better is when the pastor stays 10 to 12 years.
In other words, the trend seems to be that the less often we move our pastors, the better off our churches tend to be. The stability and continuity in ministry tend to provide for healthy discipleship, vibrant ministry and outreach, and even numerical growth.
So the question is: Has itineracy’s day come and gone? Is it time to think about stationing our pastors more in terms of decades than year by year? How might this help our churches?