April 5, 2010

Ready to move a lot? (New Poll!)

"Ready to move a lot?"

That's the question an old professor of mine asked when she heard I was dating a man preparing for ministry in the United Methodist Church.

I didn't take her reference to the UMC's itinerant, circuit-riding pastor tradition seriously at the time. Three years into our marriage and first full-time appointment, I now understand that this is a major concern for many clergy families in the UMC. Some pastors retire with tenures at ten or more churches under their belt, and despite the common knowledge that long pastoral tenures are key to long-term growth and vitality in a congregation, there's still a whole lot of moving going on each year (in many cases, because the pastor has requested it).

I would ask how many churches your spouse has served or how many times you have moved, but that number really doesn't say much unless you know how long he or she has been in ministry. (Three churches in five years means something very different from three churches in a lifetime!) So, I'll phrase the question in a different way:

What is the average length of your tenure at each church you or your spouse have served?

Share your answer in the poll in the sidebar at right. (If you are reading this in a reader, you'll need to click over to the SpouseConnect site.) If you want to elaborate on your answer or this question in general, leave a comment!


  1. My answer in the poll is skewed : ) The average time is 3 years, but we were at our first appointment one year, the next 7, then another appointment for a year, and now we're moving again in June.

    I've jokingly told my husband it's not moving so much in general that causes clergy spouses to hate life in the ministry, it's packing all those books!

  2. Our longest appointment was 8 years, but our average is 3 and 1/2. Twice in our ministry we moved mid year which is not too good if the children are in school. But it is always wise to know when it is time to move. Sometimes we just get stuck and need a new challenge. And we must remember that the Bishop has the final say in our system.
    Best wishes and prayers to those who are moving. (Do you already know??)