Why Ministers Leave Ministry, part 1

I had no idea a quote I posted to Facebook and Twitter yesterday would spark such conversation through those venues. So, I’ve decided to flesh it out a bit more, and move the conversation here to the blog. The quote came from the platform of the North American Christian Convention. The deliverer was Matt Proctor, President of Ozark Chrisitian College. I know Matt, and he is not only a wonderful man but a scholar of preaching and ministry. His quote was, “1500 ministers leave the ministry every month.” Some found this quote doubtful.

Not me.

Every year that goes by, more and more of my peers choose to serve God in other vocations. Some of them are among the most talented up and comers the Church has among it’s pool of ministers. It saddens me…not because they can’t or won’t serve God wherever they go…but simply because I wish the Church could have reaped the benefit of their skills and gifts over a lifetime. No doubt the Church still will at some level…but you know what I’m getting at.

There was quite a bit of dialogue about everything from the number Proctor cited to the reasons why so many are leaving the ministry…to whether it’s even a big deal. As it turns out, Proctor’s number is pretty well accepted fact out there. So, let’s think about why? Let me throw out letters A-E. You rank them as you think they are…and the next post, we’ll give you the actual stats from the best source out there and talk about that.

  1. FINANCIAL ISSUES – The minister can’t afford life in ministry.
  2. CONFLICT – The minister is eventually exhausted by conflict.
  3. MORAL FAILURE – The minister disqualifies his or her self through sin.
  4. FAMILY TOXICITY – Ministry is hazardous to their family.


Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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Share Your Thoughts

8 thoughts on “Why Ministers Leave Ministry, part 1

  1. ELDERS more concerned with guarding the flock than guiding. All 4 may have some obvious affect but everything rises and falls on leadership. A poor Eldership team suffocates most qualified and passionate staff and causes the church member to seek spiritual growth elsewhere

  2. Joe, the number is for Evangelical churches as a whole. I actually saw a 2010 figure as I was researching that put the number at 1700 per month. I didn’t include it because the source wasn’t as strong. However, if it is…it could be the number is accelerating.

  3. Under moral failures we might add “disqualified by sin of spouse or kids.” I’ve known a few ministers who had “wild kids” and lost their influence because of it.