Why Ministers Quit

Good blog post by Trey Morgan. Here’s the basic gist (some choice snippets, not a full quote)…

It happened again this past week. Another minister has left the ministry. When I asked him why, his explanation was simply, “I’m just burned out.”

Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said, “the four hardest jobs in America (and not necessarily in order, he added) are the president of the United States, a university president, a CEO of a hospital and … a pastor/minister.”

Latest statistics from the book, “Pastors At Greater Risk” by H.B London Jr. and Neil Wiseman,” say that ministers don’t make it to retirement because they are either burned out, fired, have a moral breakdown or just quit. Here are some of the statistics…

  • 80 percent of ministers say they have insufficient time with their spouse and that ministry has a negative effect on their family.
  • 40 percent report a serious conflict with a parishioner once a month.
  • 33 percent say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
  • 75 percent report they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
  • 58 percent of ministers indicate that their spouse needs to work either part time or full time to supplement the family income.
  • 45 percent of ministers’ wives say the greatest danger to them and family is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual burnout.
  • 21 percent of ministers’ wives want more privacy.
  • Ministers who work fewer than 50 hours a week are 35 percent more likely to be terminated.
  • 40 percent of ministers have considered leaving the ministry in the past three months.

Chun says, “Church members expect their minister to be on call seven days a week; few churches give their minister two full days off. They work on holidays — Christmas Eve, Easter and Thanksgiving — and never have a three-day weekend. People expect them to have perfect marriages and kids and drive cars and live in homes that are acceptable.”

Interesting stuff. Trey’s blog post has a couple good links (“Top 10 Ways to Get Your Preacher to Quit” and “Top 10 Ways to Encourage Your Preacher”) on ways for churches to prevent this. I also see it as a way (for even leaders to help) to educate churches about care for staff and their own congregants.

Eugene Peterson Likens Today’s Ministers to “Religious Shopkeepers”

This is good. Really good. It’s an excerpt from the introduction to Eugene Peterson’s book Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity. My comments are [in brackets] along the way.

American pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names remain on the church stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other gods. What they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasn’t the remotest connection with what the church’s pastors have done for most of twenty centuries. [Y’know, this Peterson guy’s a pretty good writer.]

A few of us are angry about it. We are angry because we have been deserted…. [“Us”? “We”? Who’s he talking about? Ministers who have not abandoned the call? This is a little weird.] It is bitterly disappointing to enter a room full of people whom you have every reason to expect share the quest and commitments of pastoral work and find within ten minutes that they most definitely do not. They talk of images and statistics. They drop names. They discuss influence and status. Matters of God and the soul and Scripture are not grist for their mills. [And they are largely the product of churches and families where care of the soul and Scripture are not grist for their mills.]

The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeeper’s concerns–how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money.

Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers, pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations. Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping, to be sure, but shopkeeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast-food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists.

The biblical fact is that there are no successful churches. [That’s a good line… “there are no successful churches.”] There are, instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world. The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsibility in the community. The pastor’s responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. It is this responsibility that is being abandoned in spades. [Yeouch!]

The larger point being, I think, that keeping the community attentive to God is the result of first keeping oneself attentive to God.Also, it’s a scary point to make, but I think many churches are just fine being religious shops, thank you very much. And these same churches don’t really want to structure church life and ministry so that their ministers are anything more than shopkeepers who maintain programs about which a prevailing value must always be “not being boring.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for “not being boring,” but part of why it’s a prevailing value is because no one will come otherwise. Hmm… wonder why that is? (For a partial answer, see previous Dallas Willard article called, “Why Bother With Discipleship?”)

Actually, on the other hand, as Peterson would certainly want to say, churches are pining for something more than shopkeepers.

Just wondering… How it is that the church has thrived for centuries before now while being boring!?

The Role of the Senior Minister

Here’s a study by the Southern Baptists that highlights the important role of the Senior Minister in churches being effective in outreach: What Standout, Growing Churches Have in Common.

Here’s a good point made by the study:

Most common among the standout churches is the role of the senior pastor. While a study earlier this month by Ellison Research found that 39 percent of American pastors are not highly interested in expanding outreach programs, researchers at LifeWay found the churches that are growing have pastors who prioritize evangelism as the most important. And the pastor strongly sets the tone of the church.

“These pastors do more than stress the importance of evangelism, they lead by example as they are personally passionate about and involved in sharing Christ both from the pulpit and through personal interaction with the unchurched and lost,” said Brad Waggoner, director of LifeWay Research.

How in the world can 39% of American pastors not be highly interested in expanding outreach programs?! And, to state the obvious, LifeWay researchers found that growing churches has pastors who prioritize evangelism and they strongly set the tone for the church. Do ya think?!

A Case for Pastors Hanging Out in Coffee Shops

Great little article about making “Coffeeshop Connections.” Here’s a particularly good thought:

Where else do soccer moms mingle with Goth kids dressed for the Friday night show? Or young, upwardly mobile commuters interact with a homeless man? Or a local pastor (me) interact regularly with anyone outside the church?

“Hmm… I wonder why you like this article, Scott?” OK, fine, so I’m just trying to bolster my own case. But, even in my case, at Cafe Mojoe, I’ve invited more people to church and had more substantive conversations with people I don’t know than I otherwise would. Just about a week-and-a-half ago I had a good 45-minute conversation with someone and I got a great chance to respond by showing how the gospel answers the questions we were discussing.

And yes, I know I need to balance this kind of community relationship building with pastoral care of the current flock, but, as the article states, our buildings are efficiently built to do relatively few things, one of which is to, on Sunday mornings, bring people in, sit them down, participate (hopefully) in worship, and send them out.

Whatever the case, these are good questions… Where would the church regularly go to interact with not-yet-Christians? I’m guessing outside the church is a good place to start. And, if you’re anything like me, a cup of coffee and a connected laptop are also of vital importance! :o)

What Ministers Really Think

This is hilarious. You might wanna think twice about telling your minister you’re changing churches and asking if he has any good suggestions. Click on the picture for a better view.

Changing Churches?

Here’s the original: “Poor Exit Interview

I’m sure lots of ministers have many good ways to finish the question posed by the first guy. Make sure to read the comments on the nakedpastor.com page.