Your Church is Not a Stepping-Stone

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 laughing matter.

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 us.

That’s not the case for everybody.

Some view churches as steps, stepping-stones to move up and up until you finally “arrive.” I know one pastor 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:

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. I affirm Dean’s assessment of baseball uniforms, and this is another assessment that is unequivocally a home run.

— Bloom where you’re planted

What Dean is getting at goes against the grain of the stepping-stone pastor, the guy who uses church after church to move up the ecclesiastical ladder. While we’re all interims, 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 suffer that continue to be stepped on. This makes it even harder for the next guy, who might even be a dude willing to lay down some roots.

His people will be suspicious. They’ll be reticent to open their arms and hearts to him. He’ll struggle long and hard to repair those bridges burned. But I believe it also stunts the growth of the stepping-stone pastor.

When we quit too soon, we miss out on myriad 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.

This post originally appeared on Facts & Trends.


Published October 14, 2020

Matt Henslee

Matt Henslee (@mhenslee) is the husband of Rebecca, father of four princesses, pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico, a D.Min student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and author of several books, including Text-Driven Invitation.