“There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth.  While most growing churches have long-term pastorates, and some non-growing churches have long-term pastorates, it is almost unheard of to find a growing church with many short-term pastorates. Frequent change of pastors seems to negate all the other complicated ingredients that go into a church’s growth mix.” – Charles Arn

 Arn’s words create a great sense of urgency for those of us in church leadership to do everything within our sphere of influence to ensure our pastors have long, productive tenures.  The church’s growth and ability to impact our respective communities for Christ depends on it.

As I began to learn from leaders who have long tenures at their organizations, I came across this article on ESPN.com about Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan.  Coach Donovan has been at Florida for 18 years and is arguably (sorry Coach K) the best coach in college basketball.

The following are 15 Practices Of Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church we can learn from Coach Donovan’s tenure with the Gators:

  1. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Often Began At Churches With Great Need – Prior to Donovan’s arrival in , the Florida Gators had only been to five NCAA tournaments in 81 years.
  2. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Have A Business As Usual Mindset – After making it to the Final Four last Saturday, Donovan enjoyed Sunday off.  On Monday he was back at work dealing with reporters, preparing for the next week’s game, and entering back into a normal routine.
  3. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Are Above Little Things – After 18 seasons, Donovan has learned to answer annoying questions from the media with a humorous responses.
  4. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Must Have People Who Believe In Them – In 1996, athletic director Jeremy Foley hired the 30-year-old Donovan after just two head coaching seasons at Marshall University where he amassed a 35-20 record.
  5. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Required Patience And Time To Succeed – Donovan had a losing record in each of his first two seasons in Gainesville.  In his third year, however, the team reached the Sweet Sixteen.
  6. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Produce Results – In his 18 seasons as head coach, Donovan’s teams have been to 14 NCAA tournaments, won six SEC championships and two national championships.
  7. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Possess A Grateful Spirit – Donovan said, “I think, for me, I’ve been very, very blessed, one, to be at a place for 18 years.”
  8. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Have Had Quality Staff And Lay Leadership Along The Way – Donovan adds, “I’ve been very, very blessed that I’ve had a chance to coach some good players and some great kids. As a coach, you’re only as good as your players are.”
  9. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Are Humble – Donovan continues, “There’s a lot of great coaches out there that have never had a chance to get to a Final Four.”
  10. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Have Established A Healthy Culture With Clearly Defined Expectations – A healthy culture with clearly defined expectations provides clarity, direction and security for you and those you lead.  Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith said, “You know what’s expected of you when you come in to a program like this.  It’s established.”
  11. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Face Less Pressure – Because of Donovan’s continued success, he has been freed up from the pressure to continually succeed which faces many coaches.   He says, “When you’re a young coach, you’re always in a position where you’re trying to prove yourself.”
  12. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Appreciate What They Have – Whether Florida wins the national championship or not, Donovan will keep it all in proper perspective.  He says, “We all want to win, and I hope we go all the way through, I’d love that.  But that stuff, I probably have a lot more appreciation for now than maybe I did when I was younger.”
  13. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Have Worked REALLY, REALLY Hard – Donovan acknowledges,  “It is really, really hard to stay at a place for a long, long period of time.  I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to be here for 18 years.
  14. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Have Turned Down Other Opportunities – Donovan admits, “I flirted with the NBA eight years ago — seven years ago, whenever it was — and for whatever reason, at that time, it wasn’t right for me.”
  15. Pastors With Long Tenures At Their Church Take One Day At A Time – Finally, Donovan concludes, “But I’m very, very happy where I’m at right now, and all I’ve tried to do is live each day in front of me trying to be the best I can be for Florida.”

I trust this post will help thousands of pastors lengthen the time of their current ministry assignment.  The Kingdom wins.  The church wins.  The pastor wins.  The community wins.  Everyone wins when pastors have long tenures at their churches.


Few things help pastors have long tenures at their church more than becoming a better preacher.  Click HERE or on the image to the left to sign up for the FREE April 29th online conference Preach Better Sermons.  You will learn from great leaders like Matt Chandler, Derwin Gray, Herbert Cooper, Jeff Henderson and Judah Smith how to improve as a preacher.  Don’t miss this!!!


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