Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Pastoral Crisis in America

H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, in their book Pastors at Risk, present some statistics on risk factors related to ministers today. Some of these statistics are as follows: Ninety percent of pastors work more than forty-six hours a week. Eighty percent believed that pastoral ministry affected their families negatively. Thirty-three percent said that being in ministry was an outright hazard to their families. Seventy-five percent reported a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry. Fifty percent felt unable to meet the needs of the job, ninety percent felt that they were inadequately trained to cope with ministry, and forty percent reported a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.

According to eighty percent of pastors' wives feel their spouse is overworked. Eighty percent of pastors' wives wish their husband would choose another profession. Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel pressured to do things and be something in the church that they are really not. The majority of pastors' wives said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

These statistics and stories should be cause for great concern among evangelicals today. The number of men answering the call to ministry has significantly decreased in recent years. 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month. The number of churches in need of a pastor far outnumber that of available pastors. The problem is epidemic in proportion.

Could the reason be that the stress of being a pastor today is more than what most men are willing to accept for themselves and for their families? Church leaders should take this issue seriously. Church leaders need to seriously evaluate how they treat their church staff. If churches do not, I predict that in the not so distant future, many churches will be burdened with having to go for years without a pastor because there simply will not be enough for every church that is looking.

The blame is not to be placed entirely on the church however. Studies today show that seventy percent of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor. Ninety-five percent of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses. Eighty percent of pastors spend less than fifteen minutes a day in prayer. Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons. Could this be the reason that a significant number of the fifteen hundred pastors who leave the ministry each month leave due to moral failure and spiritual burnout?

The reason these numbers break my heart so much is because I love the church. The church is the greatest organization in the world. I think the greatest privilege any man can have is that of being called into the pastoral ministry. I for one am honored to serve as pastor to some of the greatest people in the world, known as First Baptist Church.

Just a Thought!