Alarming Facts About Pastors
By Rick Owen
"If someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?"
(1 Timothy 3:5)
Christian author and pastor Thabiti Anyabwile cites some alarming facts about pastors (from The Schaeffer Institute) in his blog Don’t Make Your Pastor a Statistic?.
Hours and Pay
· 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
· 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
· 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
Training and Preparedness
· 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
· 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
Health and Well-Being
· 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
· 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Marriage and Family
· 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
· 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
· 80% of spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
· 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
· 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
· #1 reason pastors leave the ministry – Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
· 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
· 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
· 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
· Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
· Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
· Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
Thabiti goes on to say, “According to one survey, only 23% of pastors report being happy and content in their identity in Christ, in their church, and in their home.” His remedy includes church members doing a better job of supporting, encouraging and speaking well of their pastors.
Undoubtedly more respect and care of church leaders is often needed and deserved. But I believe a greater issue is revealed by these statistics: status-quo church traditions need to be changed. I see two great ills in the church today accounting for most of these sad statistics.
(1) Churches have drifted from Jesus’ model for leadership.
Jesus’ model includes a plurality of home-grown elders who have spent enough time in the church and community to be known as trustworthy, faithful workers, husbands, fathers and edifying church members. Men who are already serving their families, the church and the community are ready to lead. Like the rest of the church, they have 'skin in the game.' And because they have proven themselves as competent, sacrificial and persevering servants of Christ, they will most likely be more highly regarded.
(2) Churches have drifted from Jesus’ model for the church.
“Ekklesia” is the Greek word which is usually translated as “church” in the NT (e.g., Matt. 16:18; “I will build My church”). This word referred to a "summoned assembly" of co-equal participants, which functioned similar to a town hall. The church in the NT gathered as God’s household to eat a meal (the Lord's supper). In this family setting, teaching, edification, fellowship, prayer and praise took place (Acts 2:42-46; 20:7ff; 1 Cor. 11:33).
Most church meetings today are like going to the theatre, where a program (bulletin) is handed out for a presentation (worship service) planned around a keynote speaker (the preacher) and his message (the sermon). Congregational participation is minimal at best. However, a church cannot mature in Christ without “the proper working of every part” (Eph. 4:16). Following the way of Christ will cure a host of problems and help churches bear more fruit to God (Rom. 7:4).
See also Church As a Meal by Tim Chester.