Just a few days ago, October 31, 2017 - I celebrated the fact that 18 years ago my wife, Cherith, and I came to Arkansas to be the Kids Pastors at First NLR. What a ride it has been! We have been blessed to serve under two incredible pastors, Dr. Alton Garrison (the first 18 months) and Rod Loy (the past 16.5 years). To serve on such an incredible team (many of whom have been along for MOST of the ride as well) is more of a blessing than I could describe.
There's something to be said about longevity in ministry - especially longevity in ONE place. It's so incredible to look around at every Staff Meeting and see FOUR kids who grew up in my Kids Ministry and are now Kids Pastors, Student Pastors, Online Pastors on our team (and other campuses). It's such a joy to be able to be able to teach and hold the children OF the children I taught in SLAM long ago (I call them my GrandSLAMs and I am their "SLAMpa" haha). I am so thankful to have been able to remain in one place for this long. Sadly, this is not the norm.
Probably all of us in ministry have heard the stats, and they are troubling. The average Children/Youth Minister only stays at his current church for about 18 - 24 months. Some studies have stated that it may be more like 3 years, and others I have seen say it’s more like 9-11 months. But suffice it to say, the tenure of the average Children/Youth Minister is way too short.
When you move on too quickly, you miss out on the incredible benefits of longevity in ministry:
Longevity in ministry may be rare, but I believe that is slowly changing. As Kids Ministry Leaders begin to recognize the benefits of longevity, this will begin to become the norm instead of the exception. I am so thankful to God that I have had the opportunity to serve First NLR for the past 18 years, and I pray that I have another 18 (or more) left in me!
What about you? What are some benefits to longevity that I may have missed?