Yesterday I was doing a little bit of research using the BUGB directory (!) to find out a bit more about the predecessor of mine who died last Thursday. It transpired that he was a 'Bristol Man' and that Dibley was his first pastorate. I checked out the other, still living ministrers of DBC and it emerged that it was either their first or last pastorate, and that in recent time the church has oscillated between ministers approaching retirement (safe hands) and ministers fresh out of college (as I was once told, "we can't afford anything better"). Of those still living at the the time the directory was published, two of the 'fresh' ministers had trained at Bristol and the 'pre-retirement' one was an ex-Methodist who trained at Didsbury (which of course by then was not in Didsbury but Bristol).
All of this inevitably impacts the church's character - fresh faced twenty-something men from Bristol could be (s)mothered, whilst 60+ experienced ministers weren't likely to rock the boat. Small wonder a forty-year-old woman from Northern caused such ripples!!
There are other patterns too - some incredibly long pastorates in the early years (heading towards forty years) and some very short ones - a year or less - but mostly in the 4-7 year range (something I was already aware of having previously looked at the durations and wondered what, if anything, that meant). This also gives a 'feel' to the character of the place.
I wonder how much churches ever notice their own characteristics (actually I don't really wonder, I have some views!) never mind reflect on how it shapes their lives.
So, what are the implications of being a 'firsts and lasts' church? I have some views, but what might others think? And what are the patterns in other churches...?