The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


From 'hello' to 'bye'

Pastoral tenure affects decline

Can we reverse congregational decline? That’s our challenge. One way to reverse decline is to extend pastoral tenure. Moving is happening too frequently, and I’m not a good example. My tenure was for five, four, six, six and 18 years. Church consultant Lyle Schaller says the most effective years begin in the fifth to seventh year. So how effective is four years?

“Lead my sheep.” Relationships precede being led. Trust is earned. Most members see their pastor once a week. My Nebraska parish of 2,000 was 105 years old when I arrived. My being a California “foreigner” raised suspicions. The church had relocated in 1963 and no future building programs were envisioned. Yet in my 17th year, we added a family life and day-care facility for $1.8 million, growing from 40,000 to 60,000 square feet. Trust preceded building.

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March issue

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