The Joy of Staying

I’ve had the joy of being a pastor at the same church for a long time – – 28 years and counting (hopefully).

My wife and I both agree this has been the most joyful and rewarding part of our ministry.

Though some people would disagree (I recently saw in print the railings of a disgruntled baptist who advocated that churches be run by boards where results would be the only criterion for judging a pastor’s effectiveness), I strongly encourage long tenured pastorates.

The reasons for this go on and on. Let me give you a few reasons I see.

First, I believe long tenures promote growth and evangelism. We have certainly seen that where I serve. Part of this is because of the trust factor (number 2 below).

Second, long pastorates promote trust of the people for the pastor and for the pastor toward the people. It works both ways. Church members need to know they can trust their pastor, and pastors need to be able to trust church members.

When you have history and when you have been able to see how people react both in the good times and in the bad times, trust balloons. While you want to trust people implicitly, most of us learn to trust based on experience. Long pastorates allow the entire congregation – – pastor included – – to learn to trust.

Third, in a longer pastorate you get to be really involved across all the seasons of life.

This past Sunday we celebrated with our graduating seniors. I watched students being introduced whom I have known for all of their teen years and some who have never known a pastor other than me. What a joy it was to see them and their families celebrate.

Recently I had the privilege to rejoice with a couple who had twins. Two years before I mourned with them at the loss of an unborn child. It was so wonderful to get to see the rejoicing season.

Finally, and the reason I’m writing this, a long pastorate lets you see growth in people. I’ve just come from the hospital and I’ve reflected about a long-term member and the growth I have seen in him. I hope he has seen the same kind of growth in me.

One of the areas that makes being a pastor frustrating is that you often can’t see the results of what you’ve done.

I live outside the city limits on a few acres. When it’s appropriate and permissible, I burn leaves and limbs. My family laughs at the enjoyment I get from doing so. There’s a reason why I enjoy it so much. It’s because I get to see the results of what I’ve done.

Not even a long term pastorate will allow you to see all the results, but it certainly does help.

Are there downsides to a longer-term pastorate? Of course.

In a longer pastorate there is more time to become complacent or for both pastor and people to take each other for granted, but for the most part a longer tenure is a blessing for the pastor and the church.

I thank God I have had this opportunity.

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  1. Steve Doublin
    May 11, 2017

    Thanks for sharing that topic. I had never given it much thought.

  2. Wall McKneely
    May 11, 2017

    Dr. Bailey
    I agree with you on a being a Pastor at the same church for a long time. It gives the church a stability that changing pastors every few years dosen’t. We have only been coming to FBC for a short time but we love the church and your messages each Sunday and sometimes on Saturday. God Bless and thanks for your service to the Lord’s Kingdom!!!

  3. Sandy
    May 11, 2017

    We at FBC Covington are not only a blessed church but West St. Tammany Parish is a blessed community to have you & Martha leading us & loving us. I hope we give back as much as you give to us all.

  4. Diane Baker
    May 11, 2017

    I thank God you decided to stay. I’ve been a member for 16 years, and have seen the church and its members grow (including myself). I truly value FBC as well as my church family. Thank you Waylon and Martha for staying. We all appreciate your commitment.

  5. Tracy Hoerschgen
    May 12, 2017

    Waylon, so thankful for you and your leadership on a regular basis. Thank you for allowing God to bless our church through your consistent faithfulness.

    • Waylon
      May 13, 2017

      Thank you, Tracy. It’s genuine blessing to serve God through this church family.

  6. John Morgan
    May 12, 2017

    Mary and I came here to FB Covington in May 2004 and have enjoyed every service. We love the Bible studies on Wednesday night and hate to miss. It’s hard to believe we have been here that long. People often ask why do you go 41 miles to church and I tell them we have found a home and we love our pastor and all the people we have met.
    I love being a greeter every Sunday and when I have to miss so many people tell me that they missed me last week.
    Thank you Waylon and Martha for your service to our church and your love for the LORD.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. — Psalm 119:165 (NIV)