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It would be insightful to pair the concept of long-term (or even lifetime) local church service with the practices of a denomination which tends to see a local church pastor as an elected official, chosen to serve for one, two, or four years at a time. Even those on whom is eventually bestowed "an extended call" are still subject to regular evaluation (vote of confidence in the local board) and even dismissal by vote of the congregation.
Perhaps there might be a different model where the local ministerial staff is given more security and incentive to invest their lives into long-term service, but appropriate and agreeable systems of accountability and a hierarchy of authority must always be in place. A pastor who lives at the top of her church's orgchart, might have the option of "promising to stay" or "committing to stay" for a period of years. One who must answer to a council of elders or trustees, or regularly to the congregation, may not be favored with such an option.
ideally, the pastor "will stay as long as you'll have me" and the board "will have you as long as you'll stay." But who holds whom to a standard of performance and excellence in that situation?
2 years ago on Pastoral Longevity and Church Growth (Charles Arn)