By Matt Henslee
A while back, a pastor friend remarked, “How long are you going to waste in Mayhill?”
I first thought he was joking since he said it with a laugh. As the conversation went on, however, it became crystal clear this was no joke for him.
Nor was it for me.
Mayhill is home to people Jesus came to save. Mayhill is home to people who need to hear that. Mayhill Baptist is home to people Jesus died for. Mayhill Baptist is home to people who continue to learn what that means for their daily life.
Serving this great community and church has been—and is—a great joy. Our people love us, and we love our people. It’s not an overstatement to say Mayhill has become home, and Mayhill Baptist has become family.
More than that, it’s crystal clear this community and church are where God has planted me and my family. But not every pastor feels that way about their ministry assignment.
Some pastors view churches as stepping stones to move up and up until they finally “arrive.” I know one pastor who won’t even consider a call to another church unless it doubles his current church in every metric, from membership to budget.
That pastor isn’t the friend I mentioned earlier, nor is it Dean Inserra, pastor of City Church Tally, who recently shared:
Maybe it is the former church planter in me, but I am not a fan of professional pastor world.
What’s next? Where’s bigger? What’s the next step up? Hard to claim it isn’t more than a job in that mindset.
Serve at a church you would bleed for, is my belief.
— Dean Inserra (@deaninserra) September 8, 2020
He quickly added a follow-up to clarify he wasn’t calling pastors to buy a burial plot where they’re serving, but warning against pastors continually looking for the next big thing.
Bloom where you’re planted
What Dean is getting at goes against the grain of the stepping-stone pastor, the one who uses church after church to move up the ecclesiastical ladder.
We’re all interims in a sense. But when we go to a church, we need to stay as long as the Lord wills, not just until we find something better.
When we pack our worldly belongings and uproot out families to serve a church, we need to unpack our things and lay down some roots. Delete your resume, open up your life, and lay it down on the altar until the Lord takes you elsewhere.
Go “all-in,” or don’t go at all
You see, when we pastors continue to use churches as stepping stones, the churches that continue to be stepped on suffer. This makes it even harder for the next pastor—one who might be willing to lay down some roots.
His congregation will be suspicious. They’ll be reticent to open their arms and hearts to the pastor. This succeeding pastor will struggle long and hard to repair those bridges burned.
But it also stunts the growth of the stepping-stone pastor. When we quit too soon, we miss out on possibilities for breakthrough, revival, and more. Who knows? Maybe the church you’re at can become the church you want—at least if you’re patient.
There’s a time to leave
The truth of the matter is it might be time to leave your church. One day, but it may not be today. Or tomorrow. Or next year. A friend and I shared thoughts about this on a recent podcast.
I believe you’ll know deep in your soul when that day is, but until that day comes, stay. Give it your all now, and place your next in the far more capable hands of the Father.
MATT HENSLEE (@mhenslee) is the pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico, D.Min student of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and author of a few books, including Jonah Over Coffee.