Obeying God's call for the long haul: a study of pastoral longevity and tenure among independent Baptist and Bible pastors in West Virginia

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Hoskins, John H.
Virginia; Job; Appointment; Clergy; West; 60609298; satisfaction; call; election
thesis / dissertation description
The average pastoral tenure in the United States is between two and one-half years and five years. Almost all church leaders and authorities are in agreement that longer tenure is in the best interests of both the pastor and the church congregation. When the problems of a long tenure are compared to the possibilities, the possibilities far exceed the problems. Many pastors and churches circumvent the opportunities for greater growth, potential, and success when pastoral tenure is limited to the national average of five years or less. The purpose of this study is to explore the factors influencing pastoral tenure and longevity, particularly among Independent Baptist and Bible pastors in the southern Appalachian state of West Virginia. Factors such as the call of God, theological training, the Appalachian culture, personality and preaching types, leadership styles, and even benefits are considered to determine what influences tenure in West Virginia. A special focus of this study includes pastors in West Virginia who presently have twenty years or more of longevity to their credit. Data is collected by means of a questionnaire survey of the entire population of Independent Baptist and Bible pastors in the state. Personal interviews also are a primary source of information gathered, particularly from several pastors who are presently enjoying longevity and from a few pastors who have retired from their churches in recent years. In addition primary and secondary resources in the form of books, periodicals, journals, and even dissertations are also consulted in the pursuit of understanding the factors influencing tenure. The goal from this study on tenure and longevity in the pastoral ministry is threefold: (1) to discover the factors impacting longevity; (2) to present the possibilities and benefits of long pastoral tenure; and (3) to inspire and encourage fellow pastors to consider remaining longer in their present pastorates.