A few years after I had left the ministry, a co-worker came and asked if I wouldn’t mind talking and praying for her friend who was going through a challenging time. I wasn’t a pastor any longer – I was working in the IT department at a local medical clinic – and I was far from the pulpit and far from giving this lady the advice I thought she deserved. Or so I felt.
Prior to this, I was employed as an associate pastor for a number of years, working in churches throughout Oregon, Iowa, and California. Although there were many aspects of serving in full-time ministry that I loved, there were more things that happened along the way that made a negative impact on both myself and my family. It took many years of forgiving and getting plugged in to a healthy church before I really began to heal from the hurt.
As I talked and prayed with this lady, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whys behind leaving the ministry. The whys – not just for me but for the countless pastors who resign or are handed their pink slips – are quite shocking.
It’s true that some pastors fall into temptation and yet others simply feel it’s their time to call it quits. But often it goes much deeper than that. And the stats reveal much.
Most pastors are overworked.
90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
And 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
Most pastors feel unprepared.
90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands and 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.
70% of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Wait, this is huge. Let’s pause here for a moment.
This means that half of the 1,700 or so pastors who leave the ministry each month have no other way of making a living. Their education and experience is wrapped up solely in the work of the ministry.
So, not only do pastors struggle with their choice to leave ministry, they have to worry about how they are going to feed their families.
Speaking of families, most pastor’s families are negatively impacted.
80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
Many pastors are lonely.
70% do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
And then there is this:
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. And 4,000 new churches begin each year while 7,000 churches close.
The statistics speak for themselves. Working in ministry – whether you’re a full-time pastor or a lay minister balancing a job and a church – can be challenging. Families suffer, discouragement and depression – amongst a gamut of other things – runs like a river in the lives of those who sacrifice their own life to the cause of the church.
This is the reason why we started ExPastors.com – as a way to explore the whys behind people leaving the ministry and to provide support and encouragement for those who have left or are considering calling it quits. Read some articles. Share your own story. And let the conversation begin.
What’s your story?
Buy my book, Why Pastors Quit, on sale at Amazon today.
Source: Studies compiled by the Schaeffer Institute