Why Ministers Leave Ministry, Part 2

Continuing from Saturday's post:

Statistics provided in 2009 by The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.:

* 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.

*80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor's children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.

*33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.

* 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.

* 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.

Now, the top 5 reasons pastors leave ministry.

The #1 reason pastors leave ministry could be put, "Inability to realize a vision." That is, the pastor wants to go somewhere the congregation doesn't. This creates conflict and discouragement. Moses comes to mind here. To be fair, though, sometimes a person is just a poor leader or doesn't have a vision worth following.

Lack of Denominational Support is #2. The Church of Christ translation is "Elder/Preacher" conflict.

#3 is loneliness. See #5.

#4 is pressure on family and health. The minister's spouse is often neglected for the sake of the ministry. A common statement made by the spouse is "My spouse loves the church more than he/she loves me!" An unexpected visit to the pastor's home by a church member, the endless hospital visits, the phone calls, complaints made by laity and vacation times cut short because of someone being in the hospital or passing away are only a few of the stressors a pastor's family face. If these escalate or continue for a long period of time, further problems within the family may develop, which leads to another 
stressor – the pastor's family is not suppose to have any marital or family problems.

#5 is the sense they can't be a real person. This is the old, "Facebook syndrome." It's the feeling, "I can't put what I'm really doing because if I put anything that suggest I'm enjoying myself, spending any money, living to high on the hog…people will react negatively." It's also, if people find out I argue with my wife, get frustrated with my kids, or whatever…they'll be critical. I can't be me and be loved by the church. This is related to #3 – loneliness. If I can't be real, then who can really know me?

Moral Failure didn't make the top 10 list. However, lack of appreciation, stress/burnout, lack of motivation, and others did.

What do you think about the statistics? What does it say about church life, and, if we want to be fair, the people in or out of ministry?

Next post: Some solutions.

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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