June 25, 2007 Matthew

Health of American Pastorate: Bad

I often keep tabs on the blog over at TheResurgence. A quick overview was recently posted on the health of Pastors mainly in America. I should like to pass it on as it shows just how severe the problems in the American Church are:

How Healthy are Pastors in America?
Mark Driscoll from “TheResurgence”

2. How healthy are pastors and their families?

At our 2006 Reform and Resurge Conference in Seattle, my good friend Pastor Darrin Patrick from The Journey in Saint Louis (www.journeyon.net) spoke frankly of the burden that pastoral ministry is. He presented the following statistics, which he gathered from such organizations as Barna (www.barna.org), Maranatha Life (www.maranathalife.com) and Focus on the Family (www.family.org).

Pastors

* Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
* Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
* Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
* 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.
* Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
* Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
* Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
* Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Pastors’ Wives

* Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
* Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
* The majority of pastors’ wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

The leaders absolutely must face this dilemma if they will shepherd in America. It is becoming more and more widely known and preached with every passing year that the American Church is dying. That American Christianity is dying. Already there are a wave of books flying into the market that try to deal with this subject. But I am afraid it’s going to take a lot more than a new book to fix this.

On the one hand, we have to pray and seek the Holy Spirit for his guidance; on the other hand, we can remind ourselves that even the first churches planted by the Apostles in Turkey eventually died out. On a third hand, sometimes there has to be death before God can really make something live: sometimes they call it “Revival”.

As for the pastors, may the Lord be ever merciful to them. It may be well intentioned service that all these men are pursuing, but pastoring is a demanding job: it demands the Holy Spirit. Period. If you go into a line of work that demands certain skills that you don’t have, it will burn you out and you won’t last. If you go into the ministry without the call of the Holy Spirit you won’t last. One of the big problems I see is young men flying head strong into the ministry without waiting even a second on God to see if they are going the right direction. They seem to listen only to the voice of those like Credential, Diploma, Personal Skill, Men’s Approval, and Own Strength. They listen to everything but the Holy Spirit who alone can provide what is needed: power. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

If you are given the task of guarding a large flock, it will pay to be wise like Moses’ father in-law Hobab (Jethro).

The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.” (Exodus 18:13-23 ESV)

I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

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