Pin It

Why American Pastors Don’t Stay and the Need for Faithfulness

After six months of visiting churches in the USA I’m beginning to think that many American pastors have ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder)!

Yes, I’m talking about short sermons and even worse the short tenures in their churches.

According to the Barna group mainline protestant church pastors hop congregations faster than a jack rabbit on Ritalin! Which is about every 4 years!

That’s a problem!

The problem is that we live in a culture that has largely forgotten the concept of loyalty, dedication and long term commitment and this has crept into the church.

Faithfulness used to mean sticking to it for 20 or 30 years or more and now it means showing up next week!

Before you lose all hope let me tell you that there are still a few faithful men out there.

SONY DSC

Pastor Franklin was our pastor while we were at Shasta Bible College  in the late 90s. He has been a teacher, a pastor and a mentor for many men and women who are now in full-time ministry all over the world.

I preached my first real sermon in his homiletics class but it wasn’t all classroom training. He invited us into his home regularly to share insights on being a pastor and ministering faithfully. He even took a few of us young guys up to the baptistery one weekend and had us practice baptizing each other!

This Sunday I had the privilege of visiting Pastor Franklin’s church, Grace Baptist here in Redding, California.  I learned that Pastor Franklin has ministered in this one church since 1975!

That is 2 years before I was even born!

That’s faithfulness!

I’m thankful for his example of faithfulness. It encourages me to not give up.

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? Pro 20:6

Why don’t more pastors stick with one church for the long haul? The truth is that faithfulness is hard, faithfulness can seem boring and faithfulness never promises quick success.

However the church today is in desperate need of faithful men and women who will serve and teach and minister despite the hardships! Too often pastors move on before they even have a chance to see fruit in the hearts of those they minister to.

The real reward of faithfulness is sticking around long enough to see God work and in the end hearing the sweet words of Jesus,

Well done, good and faithful servant. Mat 25:21

Question: Do you know a man or a woman who has been faithful in their service to Jesus? How have they impacted your life?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Join us for news straight from Ukraine!
Get exclusive content and prayer requests delivered directly to you via e-mail!

SONY DSC

I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • I have to admit to my share of short ministries. Some my fault. Some theirs (narrow-minded legalists, for example). My last three have been longer. 13 in one place until an elder decided I needed replaced. 5 in the next (I was dying on the vine at a church with a median age of 60. I love the people but I was not dead yet). The current church has been since 11/05. I love these people and am excited to be here. I can’t wait to see what God is doing to do! Good point Caleb. It wouldn’t bother me at all if God chose to have me stay here until I breathe my last breath.

    • Bill, sounds like your average is above the norm! You’re right also, sometimes pastors are pretty much forced to move on and that’s sad. The flip side of this problem is that members often hop churches faster than pastors do. I’m dedicating a whole podcast to that later this week.

      I’ll pray that the Lord grants your wish and you can continue as long as you have health and strength ministering right where you are!

  • That’s a tough job. The ones who are called to pastor are special indeed and have a difficult time in this world that seems to thrive in the flesh of adventure that comes with change. So much is dollar driven by men. The enemy is ever present in the church as much or more than anywhere else. I can’t begin to try to grasp what it would be like to walk in your or any other person called to be His mouthpiece’s shoes. Bless you and all the chosen.

    • Floyd, I think your’e right about the enemy being at work in churches and church leadership. He knows that if he can keep pastors from doing their job then he has accomplished much.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I hope I will be faithful in the long run!

  • DS

    I have a variety of thoughts on this subject, but I’ll keep it to one. Historically in the US preachers were travelers. They didn’t stay in one place, they often conducted services in numerous towns and would ride a “circuit”.

    Even now some large religious organizations appoint and relocate people to various churches every 2 – 5 years.

    I believe that some people question the tenure of a single person at a single location on the grounds of too much strength/power/influence. Very interesting conversation.

  • Your post reminded me of the book, “I am a church member” by Rainer.

    The man who was my youth pastor growing up is still at that church. He’s still taking kids on mission trips, still teaching them how to witness and still seeing lives changed- all this after 2 kidney transplants. He’s an amazing man of God. Honored to know him.

    • That’s so awesome that you have the example of your youth pastor. These are the people whose example we need to follow.

  • My pastor during my childhood remained at our church for nearly 40 years. During much of his tenure at the church he also served as mayor of the city. He was incredibly popular and gifted as a pastor, politician, relating well with people of all races and nationalities, and making each person who came up to him feel very special and loved. There were several other long-time pastors in my community back then. I don’t think men are made this way these days. But I can tell you that people hold much higher respect to people who stick with them through the good times and the bad.

    • Wow, that’s amazing that he could be pastor and mayor! Not many who could do that. I think there must be some connection with how Americans work today. It used to be common to work one job for 30+ years but now you rarely see that.

  • Whenever I hear the words, “God told me my work is done here,” or “God is calling me to another ministry,” my eyes roll. While this does happen and who am I to say it doesn’t, I really love and respect those men and women who are committed and faithful.

    just be honest. “You people are driving me crazy and the money is better over at First Big Steeple Church

    • I agree with you David. I think often “God told me my work is done” is code for “I’m tired and discouraged and hoping that a new church will change how I feel”. Btw, this is something Paul David Tripp talks about in his book “Dangerous Calling” It’s a great book.

  • You’ve mentioned one of the things that has left me scratching my head the last two and half years, since we moved to UsofA. Not that pastors never move churches in Kenya, it just seems to happen more around here. Good thoughts to ponder on.

    • So you see the contrast too? In general America is a very mobile society and that has come into the church as well. Another thing that affects this is the fact that many pastors view their job as just a job and so moving on to a bigger church is just their way of advancing.

      • I agree with you on this truth. In my experience I have seen a lot of pastors leave for a bigger church or more money. They see it as advancing like you move from one job to another for greener pastures. A lot times they don’t want to put in the work and effort to grow where they are.

  • Dan Erickson

    I don’t think many pastors leave from a lack of faithfulness. In fact it may be just the opposite. Many may leave because the human element of pastoring is such a burden and a burnout. They may find other ways to serve that are more faithful for their own lives.

    • Dan it’s true some leave because of others factors such as burn out and even because God has truly called them to a different ministry but in my experience those aren’t the majority of the cases.

    • I totally agree, Dan.

  • I think being a pastor is one of the hardest and under appreciated jobs a person can have. People only see a small aspect of what a pastor does on a weekly basis, when they are preaching. But, the difficult aspect is the counseling and working with broken people. It can be bearing at times.