What Your Pastor Needs

October is “Pastor Appreciation” month.

Please read the following information about the pressures of pastoral ministry and ask yourself if what your pastor really needs is another “cross tie” or a “Serve the Lord tire-lessly” wall clock.

When pastors feel the burden of saving people, selling the gospel, or cornering the market through their own cleverness, methods, creativity, or charisma, they eventually burn out. So, too, do the sheep who are submitted to perpetual exhortations to imitate their restless “authenticity.”

According to a recent study of Evangelical ministers, 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month and 80 percent of seminary graduates leave within five years. This comports with another study that found that 80 percent of the youth who grow up in Evangelical churches drop out by their sophomore year of college.

~ Michael Horton in “All Crossed Up” (Touchstone Magazine, March 2008).  [HT: Gospel-Driven Church]

And research shows:

Sobering stats from various sources:

1. Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.

2. Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.

3. Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

4. Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years. Ninety percent of pastors said their seminary or Bible school training did only a fair to poor job preparing them for ministry.

5. Ninety percent said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry.

6. Seventy percent felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.

7. Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.

[HT:  Gospel-Driven Church]

With those thoughts in mind consider this plea from Ray Ortlund:

I have been ordained for 33 years now, but I have never before been so aware of faithful ministers under intense distress and temptation and outright attack. I myself am in green pastures and beside still waters, for which I am grateful. But it is not so for many others right now. Unable to see the battles being fought in the heavenlies and unwilling to speculate about them, I can plead that every church organize regular prayer for her pastor.

I have never seen a faithful pastor too much prayed for, too much encouraged, too much loved and cheered on, though I have seen members oddly concerned that the pastor be reminded of how dispensable he is, how inadequate he is, and so forth. The result, and maybe the intention, is weak churches.

In these times of intense pressure on us all, half-way Christianity is no longer a credible option. It’s all for Christ or nothing. Our churches are the front line of spiritual battle, and the pastors are at the forefront of the battle. Pray for your pastor, encourage him, empower him. If the battle is to be won in our generation, it will be a shared victory. We stand or fall together.

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