Attention Church Men, Pastors Are Under Pressure
By Tom Harper
I am still thinking about a statistic I heard Gary McIntosh say last week. I’ve heard it before. It’s not a pretty one. When I tweeted it, a switch in Dave Travis’s mind flipped and he pounded out a great blog about it. I’ve never met him in person but we correspond occasionally. Dave is managing director of Leadership Network, so he carries a load of credibility around. When he speaks, I listen. When he invited me to respond to his blog, I thought this would be a great opportunity for many more to weigh in.
Here’s what I said in my original tweet: 50% of pastors will not retire as pastors – How can we reverse this? When I heard this figure myself, I was sitting in one of the Society for Church Consulting’s training conferences. Gary McIntosh, a prolific writer on church health and growth, was teaching that too many pastors are hurting and need help before they burn out. In his blog, Dave instinctively got what I meant: a wave of promising pastors are being run out of ministry. It’s an exodus that’s draining the church of good leaders, who are often replaced by not-as-good ones.
There are many that should never have become pastors in the first place, or who simply, discover that this kind of ministry is not for them. Many move into parachurch ministries, work for church suppliers, or find ways to work and minister in the secular marketplace.
Others, of course, crumble under sin and never recover their original ministry calling.
More alarming than the 50%
In Pastors at Greater Risk, H. B. London, Jr. writes about some truly surprising trends:
80% believe the pastoral ministry affects their families negatively. 90% feel they’re inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands. Ministry leaders are equally likely to have their marriage end in divorce as general church members. The clergy has the second highest divorce rate among all professions. 56% of pastors’ wives say they have no close friends. 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well being and health.
45.5% of pastors say they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend. Does this list make your heart hurt like it does mine? This is why I have a passion for the men of the church to come alongside pastors. It is why we all must support and encourage the pastors of our own churches. If you’re a pastor, can you relate to these statistics? I hope not. But if so, would you please find someone who will walk with you as a friend or mentor?
Pastors should not go into ministry without a support structure. Their spouses and families need the support, too.
In Leading on Empty, Wayne Cordeiro writes, “To finish strong, you must learn to rejuvenate your spirit early in your ministry. Most of the people in our churches have no idea how demanding ministry can be or even how demanding they can be.”
How do you rejuvenate your spirit? Have you ever rejuvenated your spirit?
The pastoral legacy
My ten-year-old son wants to be a pastor. That makes me proud and concerned at the same time, considering the above numbers. I will do everything in my power to prepare him if that is God’s will for his life. And if he in fact follows through on this childhood dream, I will make it my mission to support and encourage him in that role until the day I die.
Is there someone thinking about ministry that you can mentor and encourage?
Don’t let pastors go it alone! Church men, support your pastor!
From: www.churchcentral.com web site. July 2007