Sabbatical: The Missing Link for Churches and Pastor – 2


Part 2 of 4Read Part 1 first

How many pastors are leaving the ministry annually?

Info from Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, and other respected groups [reported at http://djchuang.com] found:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America. [emphasis mine]
  • 7,000 churches close each year in America.

Reported from <http://djchuang.com/2010/churches-closing-and-pastors-leaving/>

90% of the minister’s report they feel inadequately trained to meet the demands of the ministry, 70% report having a lower self-image now than when they first started and 50% of the ministers will not even last 5 years!

Pasted from <http://pastoralcareinc.com/MR/Books/EBooks.php>

These figures are staggering. Perhaps one or two or twenty pastors may have neglected their spiritual life in order to be there for everyone else. Or perhaps they have misplaced priorities, but 1,500 a month!?  Fifty percent of ministers will not make it past 5 years? WOW!

What are the blockbuster-issues affecting pastors today?

I believe that the following factors contribute directly or indirectly to the statistics which we’ve just read.

–a decline in respect and appreciation.

According to one survey, the occupation of pastor ranks near the bottom of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman.”

Reported from <http://pastoralcareinc.com/MR/Books/EBooks.php>

Some congregations view their pastors as hired employees or hired hands. Such a view is simply unbiblical and dishonoring to Christ, who gives pastors to the church.

As one source said, “the congregation wrongly believes that it is the pastor’s job to evangelize the community and pull the strays back in.”

Reported from <http://djchuang.com/2010/churches-closing-and-pastors-leaving/>

In reality, according to Ephesians, pastors hold one of the five-fold offices in the church. Theirs is a calling, a vocation, and they are not expendable. They are gifts to the Bride from Jesus himself. They are to be honored and valued.

–long hours and “battle fatigue” leading to exhaustion

Some in the church believe that a leader walking in the Holy Spirit, and in dependence upon Jesus, will never tire or be worn out. Of course this view is short-sighted and ill-informed. But these super-spiritual church members apply simplistic answers to complex conditions.  Then they err again by plucking biblical verses out of context without taking into account the whole counsel of Scripture.

They really have no idea the intensity of spiritual warfare and burden many pastoral couples labor under. Some pastoral leaders don’t even recognize the source of their distress.

Focus on the Family’s resident Pastor’s pastor, H.B. London, said recently:

“Many well-meaning Christians in their congregations ignored the signs of “battle fatigue.” Instead, congregations overwhelmed my pastor friends with unrealistic expectations, negative criticism and misplaced anger. Some congregations even assumed the perfect pastor was “out there,” so their fallible pastor was terminated.”

http://www.parsonage.org/faq/A000000541.cfm

Is termination a valid choice for our war-weary troops on the battle front in Afghanistan or Iraq? Those who have withstood the frontal assaults in battle are moved for a time to the rear to recover and retool before redeploying again to the front. Why would we expose those who watch over our souls to years of intense ministry without much more than a few weeks of vacation a year? School teachers get the entire summer off annually. Pastors, elders, and other spiritual leaders operating in modern culture are under so much more than their predecessors of earlier times. But even in those earlier times, spiritual fatigue and exhaustion took its toll.

Jesus knew what it was to be weary. The Apostle Paul understood the weight of ministry and spiritual concern–compassion fatigue is real. Exhaustion is the body responding to the load of spiritual warfare and pastoral care. God constructed our bodies for a slower pace than modern life dishes out.

–low pay

Have you ever considered whether you could go through years of preparation for ministry, years of schooling and graduate studies (if a M.Div. is required for ordination as it is in most denominations) and survive on what the average local church pays its pastor?

It is estimated that about 75% of all ministers live close to the poverty level. . . Many expect the pastor and his/her family to have a higher set of standards than they [themselves] do and unfortunately, having [sic]to “live by faith” more in providing for their provision.

Reported from <http://pastoralcareinc.com/MR/Books/EBooks.php>

Pastors are intentionally and unintentionally kept poor. Very few at the same level of education, experience, and responsibility would work for what the pastor receives. And once the pastor’s effectiveness has been drained, the church simply replaces the pastoral family without much more thought, never mind a substantial severance package. Some church goers feel that the pastor who buys into the modern ideas of 401K’s, severance packages, and housing allowances is unspiritual. These folks argue that the early apostles and Jesus didn’t have any of these things so why should their pastor? But how many of them hold that same standard for themselves?

Perhaps we reap in our lives spiritually what we sow into our leaders’ lives financially (cf. 1 Cor. 9:14; Gal. 6.6; 1 Tim. 5.17-18; esp. Lk. 6:38). Greediness is never applauded by God. Nor is it one of his attributes. Generosity and a giving spirit is what He demonstrates and expects from us, especially toward those men and women whom God has given to the churches. We are never rewarded for keeping our leaders poor.

Part 3 of 4 in a couple of days.

©2012, David C Alves  All rights reserved.

First published by permission in The Witness, Winter 2012 by Advent Christian General Conference USA.

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