Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, wrote an article for Pastors.com about the main purpose of staying at a church entitled, “Pastor ‘free-agency’ Hurts Churches”. (HT: Michael Turner for the link via Facebook)
Warren states in this short article says “A long pastorate does not guarantee a church will grow, but changing pastors every few years guarantees a church won’t grow.” He goes on to say that the success at Saddleback is linked to his 30 year ministry there.
Now as a good United Methodist minister who believes whole heartily in the itinerant system I see some major issues with this idea. I agree that longer appointments have been beneficial but after 30 years at a church I begin to wonder if this is a minister driven church? Could Saddleback live without Rick Warren? I don’t know the congregation so I can’t say but I think that is a question every minister has to ask themselves. If the church cannot live without me…than are they healthy?
One of the strong points of UM Ministers moving is that the congregation, in an ideal world, takes the ministry on themselves. It empowers the laity to take more responsibility and not the ministerial staff. A church that doesn’t need a minister at all…I would argue might be the healthiest of all.