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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why the Fallout?

I was listening to the opening session of Reform and Resurge Conference: 2006 this morning (they are podcasting the sessions!). Darrin Patrick began his message with these troubling statistics:
    1500 pastors leave the ministry each month
    50% of pastors marriages will end in divorce
    80% of pastors (84% of spouses) feel disqualified and discouraged about their role
    50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry, if they could, but they have no other way to make a living
    80% of seminary and Bible school graduates that enter the ministry will leave the ministry within 5 years
    80% of pastors' spouses feel their husband is overworked
    80% of pastors' spouses wish their husbands would find another line of work
    Majority of pastors' wives surveyed said the most destructive event in their family was the day they entered ministry
    40% pastors polled said they had an extra-marital affair since entering the ministry
    70% say the only time they study the Word is when they prepare sermons

Just over Father's Day, my own dad and I were talking about ministry. Ministry is work, and there are no greater stakes than souls that need to hear the gospel and believers who need to live it. It is weighty, but it shouldn't crush a person. As my dad and I talked, there seemed to be a couple of reasons for this trend. All seem to fit under bad theology:
    Bad Theology of Ministry
Somewhere we get deceived into thinking our ministry equates our relationship with God. Any casual look at the work of the false prophets will reveal that to not be the case.
    Bad Theology of Family
I've talked to men who believe their calling to ministry trumps all other callings in their life. I don't see any Scriptural validation for that concept.
    Bad Theology of Leadership
Accountability is avoided for pastors, believing they can not reveal themselves to be a sinner. The problem here is that it conflicts with the gospel message (that we are sinners) and ignores virtually every leader listed in Scripture, as we view their strengths and weaknesses.
    Bad Theology of Calling
While attending Grace, it seems that many men were enrolled in the Seminary because he lost his job or was trying something new. Ministry is not to be a career choice, but a calling.
    Just plain bad theology
Overall, I think the greatest theological misunderstanding is regarding the sovereignty of God. Too many pastors are trying to work and create results in and of themselves...thus setting themselves up for failure and frustration. We set ourselves up in pride, believing we can create life in a heart, thus setting ourselves up for a fall, discovering we can't.

Please take a moment to pray for pastors, we certainly need it!


  • At 10:55 AM, Anonymous peppo said…

    Having read another discussion of those stats elsewhere, I would have to say that "Bad Theology of Calling" is probably the primary cause of the problem.
    When leaders of a church are no longer selected from mature godly men who conform to the requirements of scriptures but instead are recruited from barely pubescent boys who happened to be intelligent enough to graduate from college or seminary- or when the ministry is viewed as a profession in the same way as being a plumber or a doctor- pastors must necessarily be a miserable lot, and the church must necessarily suffer the ill effects of their misery.

  • At 11:49 AM, Anonymous brian o said…

    Yeah, I woudl agree, I would also add that it's a cycle, too. When we don't have pastors that model good theology, calling, etc, then young leaders don't have a solid portrait of what it's all about. Thanks for the link Danny, I plan on listening through the week.

  • At 1:07 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Awesome post, dude. I totally agree with you.

  • At 2:09 PM, Blogger ~d said…

    i don't suppose that the people within the church share any of the blame...?

  • At 9:11 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    while ministry can be tough...no, i don't think members of the church can be blamed.

    we work with sinners (and are sinners!). we know that going in.

    but you may be bringing up another one:

    Bad Theology of Rewards

    it's too easy to look to temporal immediate rewards rather than to God's approval.

    the only way i could see a church as responsible is if they voted the pastor out because they didn't like hearing proper doctrine.

  • At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think there is more to it than that. Are we discounting the fact that God has made us RELATIONAL beings? I believe that the health of a pastors family and the relationships therein play a big part in these statistics.

    Therefore, I would say that the church DOES bear some blame. Often the church does not minister to the marital/parental needs of their pastors. Many pastors and their families are isolated and have no one to mentor THEM, perhaps no money to get any professional help they might need or money to have just the 2 of them get away for an overnight or the babysitters to watch the kids while they do go. There are normal marital and parenting issues that all godly couples have (and then some of us have not so common issues as well) and yet we often hold the pastoral family to a different standard and the wife (as the survey of spouses would indicate) feels alone and may I even say 'freakish?' For if they are the spiritual leaders and to be the examples, the fact that they DO have problems (and feel so alone in those) makes them feel disqualified. Who helps the pastor keep the balance of ministry/family/personal health? Who helps his wife see that the problems she faces with home and family are normal and helps her work through them?

    We are members of the BODY. The hands help the mouth when it hurts, etc. The Word puts much emphasis on the relationships within that body and I believe that works for our pastoral folks. Let godly men hold up pastors in prayer AND put flesh to those needs. Help them get whatever it takes to keep their homes healthy.

    The Rambler (who has been there, done that)

  • At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Unfortunately, this post and the statistics included make me want to quit the ministry. Everybody's doing it. Peer pressure is powerful stuff.



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