Going Back to Your Home Church: To Go or Not to Go?

Returning to one's home church as pastor can be tricky.

Those who would argue against going back to one’s home church may quote Matthew 13:57–58, “And they took offense at him [Jesus]. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.’ And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”

Others, like my friend Elmer Towns, encourage pastors to go back to their hometown. (His ideas inspired this article.)

Some may point to the fact that Jesus commissioned the disciples to begin witnessing in Jerusalem, in their home region, and move outward toward the nations.

There are certainly reasons to consider on both sides.

Four reasons to return

There can be a hometown advantage.

By going to one’s home church, a church that knows and loves the pastor-to-be, one can potentially lead the church to embrace ideas they normally might not embrace. Don’t miss the importance of the words “loves you.”

If you are hated, there will not be much hometown advantage! But if they do love you, then there will be a lot of relational capital that can be spent on leadership decisions.

Relational capital is important in any leadership position, but it is especially important in revitalization. The more people know you, the more people trust you. Relational capital gives the pastor home-field advantage. And if you are a sports fan you know teams love playing at their home stadium.

Contextual (or cultural) knowledge of the area and people.

Those who go back to their hometown—unless they have been gone for a very long time—already have a contextual, or cultural, knowledge of the area. That knowledge can be very helpful for a church in need of revitalization. So, what kind of contextual, ...

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