5 Ways For Pastors To Prepare For The Long Haul

A quick google search including the words "Pastor" and "Tenure" will produce countless articles with titles like "How long is too long?" and "When should a Pastor leave a church?" and "What do you do when it's time to go?"

Today, I thought I would take the opposite approach. How does one prepare to stay for the long haul? Any study of the church landscape reveals that the vast majority of extremely strong, and often large churches, have or had a pastoral tenure of more than fifteen years. How can a pastor and church prepare for that?

1. Purchase A Home In The Community - The process of searching for a home, and walking through a vast number of properties teaches a person so much about the community. And, nothing says I'm invested in being here like a 30 year mortgage.
- When Bryan and Molly Long came to Randall Church, they committed to commuting here for 3 months before closing on a house in our area rather than finding a transitional rental property. Prepared for the long haul. 

2. Change To Local Phone Numbers - We live in a global world we all use cellphones, and local numbers are a thing of the past. However, each time an out of state area code is punched into a phone, a subliminal message is communicated: he's not from around here. Why would you want to say that?
- When Mario and Denise Delgado came to Randall Church, they had been global travelers serving in the US Military, with friends all over the world that knew their phone numbers. However, when they arrived in this community, they changed their phone over to a local number in order to establish themselves here. Prepared for the long haul.

3. Enroll Children In Local Public / Private Schools - While we have many options by which to raise our children in unique ways, what we have in common with everyone else is that our kids need an education. Why not leverage this common ground as an opportunity to expand the Gospel?
- When my wife Erin and I came to Randall Church, we realized that our phase of life, accompanied with the spacing of our children meant that we would have 13 consecutive years at the public elementary school. What a perfect way to build relationships with people! Prepared for the long haul.
4. Lead As If You Will Be There Forever - A pastor can't grow a great church with his eye always out for greener pastures.  When you commit to the long haul your lay people are more likely to do the same. 
- In the year 2026, Randall Church will have a huge celebration for it's 200th birthday. In many ways, I could either have the privilege of standing at the helm while the church look forward to God's Kingdom work in the next 100 years, or I could be a small name on a long list in a document. Prepared for the long haul.

5. Treat People Like Family - Family dynamics vary, but the values of honesty, transparency, and consistency are essential in all of them.  People will cope with a pastor's mistakes, and you will make mistakes if you stay long term, if they sense you own up to them and share what you learned because of the mistakes.
- Every Sunday morning in the 9am hour at Randall Church, a booming voice can be heard resonating down the halls. Pastor Jack Will has been serving this congregation for more than 60 yrs, and has every intention of leading and communicating the Truth of God's Word until he is at home with Jesus. Prepared for the long haul, and faithful in the journey!

May God sustain us as we prepare for the long haul. May we be faithful in the journey. The best is yet to come!

Pastor Milo


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