“Longevity is not our ultimate goal in the work of church planting.” This was shocking when I heard it recently at a time of training for church planting team leaders. It seems like longevity was always being preached. “Language and culture acquisition for the sake of longevity”; “taking time off for the sake of longevity”; “they are an example of longevity”. It seems like one of the main tasks of a cross-cultural church planter is longevity.
Are we are prioritizing longevity over everything else, including gospel proclamation? The sad truth is that many place priority on longevity to the neglect of gospel clarity. Paul certainly spent years in different locations, but he also was forced to leave certain cities after very short periods. What was the difference? Why at one place was he committed to longevity and at the other he left in a hurry? The answer is gospel proclamation. Paul always emphasized gospel proclamation over longevity. Sometimes he still made it long term in a city. Other times, because of his gospel clarity, he was forced to leave.
Here is a more thorough discussion on the topic of longevity over at IMB.org