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Pastoral Ministry

A couple of interesting posts have recently come up regarding the challenges of pastoral ministry.  The first is by Thabiti Anyabwile.  Here are some of the statisitics he shares (read the rest here):

Hours and Pay

  • 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
  • 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
  • 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

Training and Preparedness

  • 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
  • 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they 
    thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.

Health and Well-Being

  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if 
    they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Marriage and Family

  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
  • 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
  • 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.

Church Relationships

  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
  • 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.

Longevity

  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
  • out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
  • Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.

The other post is from Jared Moore (read here).  His post is more about the way you will be treated in pastoral ministry, rather than statistics about it.  Here’s what he writes:

If you enter pastoral ministry…

10. Not everyone will like you.

9. You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.

8. You will feel like a failure often; and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase. Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.

7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition.

6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).

5. You will be criticized, rarely to your face, and frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that appear to love you, those that obviously do not like you, and pastors and Christians that barely know you.

4. You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.

3. You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews.

2. You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trust-worthy peers are few and far in-between. Because of the “super-Christian” myth accredited to pastors literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.

1. You will probably pastor a church that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen pastors come and go, doesn’t respect the position as biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a pastor’s or a church’s jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).

After understanding these realities, do you still want to be a pastor? If so, then God has probably called you to the ministry!

I can certainly agree and relate to much of what both of these men have written.  With that said, there is nothing else I would ever want to do than be a pastor.  Despite the many hardships, I can easily list the fruit and blessings that God has bestowed in ministry.  Yes, it is good to be reminded of the challenges with pastoral ministry, but let us also give thanks that God has called us to such a noble task and makes us fit for it according to his grace.

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