Why Do So Many Pastors Leave the Ministry? The Facts Will Shock You

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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

POSTED ON January 27, 2014
  • These are shocking and sad statistics, and a lot of them fit my experience as an ex-pastor myself. Would you have the citations & sources of these statistics? And what else would it take to solve the problems, in addition to a blog with articles and the opportunity for online conversations?

  • Daniel James Engstrom

    I have seen this same thing, and agree 100%!
    This is a very good example of why I tend to not got to “big” churches.
    From all the years of going to church and even being a Youth Pastor myself, I have always felt this would be better dealt with if the churches were smaller, like say 200 or less. Also lots of Pastors I have known over the years take on too much. Why is that, because there are so many people that don’t/wont get involved and help out.

    • Yes, many pastors have too many responsibilities. Many, of which, are taking on because of pressure from leadership and/our church members. Thanks for the comment, Daniel.

    • allie

      ironically, as a pastor who has experienced both big and small, I have found the smaller churches, around 18-60, rural, to be (some) much more toxic — and super happy if the pastor is single, because, as I have been told, “good! We’ll get more of your time without family obligations!”. My sense from both catagories (admittedly, way more small church experience) is that the smaller “family” churches often take real ownership of the local church they’re in. I don’t mean ‘ownership’ like they take responsibility — I mean ‘ownership’ like “don’t-be-messin-with-our-club” and/or I-been-comin-to-this-church-longer-than-u-been alive-and-….” or “we-pay-you-to do-what-and-how-we-think”. The compensation point chimes here as well: smaller rural churches in my region (and many smaller inner-city congregations) can’t afford a salary that would support a pastor/family… I do still love serving smaller rural churches, I guess cuz that’s home for me, but, man, the stats in this article apply right down the line here too 🙂 I’d also add a second reason to your accurate assertion that one of the reasons some pastors take on so much is b/c folks won’t get involved, if I may? There seems to exist in every congregation those folks who will literally make the pastor’s life miserable — even compromising the pastor’s physical health too — if things are not how they want. So, add the incessant demands (at times, harassing) from these folks, to these same folks usual criticisms, to a lack of many active folks, and the pastor may end up taking on way too much just to get the hounds off his or her back for a while. Its grossly unhealthy.

      • Thanks for your thoughts Allie. I’d love to hear more about your experiences in the field. Connect with me some time and share your story.

      • Private pastor

        Allie hit the nail on the head for rural ministry. I have and still do face these same things.

      • sincerely

        Yes this is what I’ve even experienced from some who are new Leaders in our church but because it’s small they have become somewhat demanding and possessive. And I have been there longer but tried to not be possessive so it’s overwhelming this way too. I don’t mind new, but possessiveness shouldn’t belong in church if we want to encourage newcomers.

    • Joe Bridger

      My experience is that these things happen no matter the size of the church. I have been at 1,500 person churches and church plants of 15. Most of my bad experiences have happened in churches of 200 or less. We all end up overworked and stretched too thin in those situations. It seems like smaller church pastors are afraid to say no cause if they do they will lose the people who want to do whatever program or thing they want to do. smaller churches also tend to have a lot of members that are inter related to eachother and without meaning to you end up offending a family member if you say no to someone’s desire to do something they think is great but may not fall in line with the church. But they bring the program to the small church and then expect the leadership that is already doing too much to take on one more thing instead of saying, “Pastor I have this great thing I think God wants us to do AND I’m willing to lead it.

      • Mao Gung

        Couldn’t agree more Joe. In my experience there is always an increasing pull on a pastor’s time and energy and so many of us are afraid to say no to it. I believe that healthy ministry is highly dependent on setting consistent boundaries. And so many pastors get caught up in “tasks”–important as they may be–but neglect our first priority which is our personal walk with Jesus and the ministry of the Word and prayer.

        • Joe Bridger

          I have learned the most valuable thing I can do is say no. Most of the time if I follow it up with, ” I cannot attend or be a part of that because that is on a day that I have my time with my family.” it goes well. Sometimes people have been offended at me. Sometimes fellow co workers have been upset with me. Sometimes My lead pastor has not understood. but I have made a decision. My children will have a dad. My wife will have a husband. And my family will know Christ because I lead them more than just on Sunday mornings. It’s hard. Today I sit here cause people have called in sick and now I have to reschedule Nursery workers on my day off. But I work hard to try and keep it the exception, not the rule. My wife is also my last resort when I can’t find someone to help with ministry not my first. We made that decision a long time ago. It has been good for our marriage. They hired me. Not her. If they want to hire her that’s fine. But she will never work the equivalent of a full time job at any church I am serving in. She volunteers just as much as anyone else on our team who is volunteer. But She’s not like a lot of pastors wives who are there just as much as the paid pastor. I refuse that. And if they don’t like it, they don’t have to hire me.

          • Mao Gung

            God bless you Joe. We have to actually fight for keeping balance in our families, marriages and personal lives. You’re doing just that and many pastors need to imitate your zeal for balance. The Sabbath concept is powerful but it doesn’t come easy. In America sometimes, we feel it doesn’t apply to us. Take care!

    • sincerely

      I have served several years in ministry in a small church & it has only gotten smaller since our Pastor had a stroke & Leadership faltered. More inexperienced leaders have replaced people & lack of manners, communication & respect have all caused a deeper fall & negative impact. So what I’ve seen is a desperate need for people more prone to compassion, & somewhat of skills in communication moreso than just order, even though that also is needed.

  • Lee Young

    They are sad stats indeed. We need to do a better job as churches in caring for pastors and their spouses.

    • Indeed. You are correct. We need to start training our pastors and leadership and church members ways to make these stats much less frightening.

  • Tracy A.

    This is great! And so very true. For my husband Jun, getting a job outside of ministry has been horrifying. After seven months he was finally hired as a manager…but its not even enough for us to have our own home/rental. In ministry, we were always living paycheck to paycheck…often in the red. Our hurts are deep from our last mission (and compiled over the years) and have been in recovery ever since. We can certainly relate to all of these statistics. And i know there are many out there w/ similar stories. I have so much more I could say…but won’t write a book, here. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Tracy. You are welcome to share your story anytime.

  • Dante

    I would like to see the statistics on how many “fallen” pastors are restored to ministry. Not many (I’ve heard 1 in 10). All of the relational characteristics are true; depressed and discouraged, lonely, unable to find an alternative. Now, add in another layer; guilt and anger, shame and disgrace, confusion and disillusionment, and you have a whole realm of people who not only lose their profession…they lose their faith, in God, His people, and themselves.

    • Dante, I like your thoughts here. I would also like to know this, as I’ve know several pastors who have “fallen from grace” as you put it. Of those, I can only think of one who has returned, at least in part, to serving in ministry. Would you be willing to look up some information and send it my way? I’d love to see what you come up with. Blessings and thanks again for the comment.

      • Dante

        Hey Bo, Thanks for the response and the invitation. I can see that you value discourse greatly and I appreciate that. I will look into it with this caveat, understand that my current and personal pain and inflammation may not lead me to objectivity. I’ll give it my best.

        I believe you have noted something, perhaps without even realizing it, when you say you can only think of one who has returned, “at least in part.” to ministry. Those who do make it back to ministry rarely return to levels of leadership they once held, and more rarely are restoration teams made up of restored people. Something to think about…

    • Scott Stewart

      Jimmy Swaggart being one
      I believe that man is fully restored with God

      • Dante

        Hey Scott, I appreciate your response for a couple reasons; a) you say “fully” restored, and b) “with God”. BOTH are important factors in the discussion of restoring… anyone. Thanks for making me think and see.

    • Jimmy

      I am one of them. Makes me wonder if I even ever got saved. I don’t know the Greek or Hebrew for “sucks” but it does.

      • Manna

        Jimmy, I”m so sorry! From the body of Christ, if I could speak for all Jesus followers. I’m just so so sorry. Can I just encourage you to keep moving! Keep moving! Ask for prayer from a few saints you can trust. Be honest with them! Weep Cry Mourn Confess your unbelief before God! He is the God of restoration and it does get better! Don’t be upset if it doesn’t look the same! For me, I lost faith in myself more than anything! Don’t believe those lies! I felt like I was being washed away by the waves! Waves don’t take you closer to Jesus! Row against the waves…share with those saints that God has or will put in your life…make one step and one right decision at a time. Fight bitterness…share those feelings. Our savior was a carpenter. One of the most amazing gospel-sharing friends I have is a waitress, one is a grocery clerk. Be obedient in the smallest of things. My friend used to tell me, it’s not about where you live but being obedient where you’re at. Prayers up for you brother.

    • Manna

      The resonates with me and the pain we felt. Praise God that He loves us so much He won’t let us go. Oh it is worth the fight for JOY! That we may see ourselves as God sees us rather than buying into the lies of the world. God is redeemer, church hurt is the deepest hurt I’ve ever known and would have never understood it had I not experienced. When this is your life, you have to repent then for the bitterness you want to give in to and to repent for the mistakes and sinful role I played in the situation. I wish I would have reacted differently to attacks and ugliness, but I reacted in hurt rather than love. After you are rejected and it happens over and over, you give in to it. It’s wrong, we should have just left. For us, it was our “home church” the only one I’d every known. I used to think I could handle anything, to dig in my heels and persevere, but the breath was knocked out of me and now I know that it is truly Christ that picks us up and gives us strength!! Thank you for letting me share!

    • John Myer

      Dante,

      Again, as others are saying, be careful of painting others with too broad a brush. For I am a member of that “whole realm of people who not only lose their profession…” and I can tell tell you for certainty that I have never lost my “faith, in God,” but “His people” ABSOLUTELY!!!! As for “and themselves” well, that’s an on going process for many of us isn’t it?

  • mimishumblepieamy

    I’m not shocked by these stats at all. In the 90’s I spent 4 years doing a double major in bible college and only lasted 18 months in full time ministry. Straight out of college my husband and me were hired as children’s pastors for a church that had 150-200 children in attendance from ages birth to 18 yrs. The church only paid one salary, and only for the hours the programs operated- 10 to 15 hrs a week at minimum wage. We worked full time jobs to pay our bills and worked 50 hours a week in the church preparing for and leading the multiple ministries under our care. Ministry means being on call 24/7 and would have worked out for us if we didn’t have to find other ways to feed ourselves while ministering. After we gave notice of our intent to leave, we hoped to transition to another church. I worked in retail for a bit, while searching for ministry jobs that paid real salaries. Here we are 15 years later…My hubby spent a decade as a depressed call center employee, and I went back to college to become a teacher.

    • Thanks so much for your transparency and sharing a bit of your story. Like I mentioned above, working in ministry can be one of the most challenging jobs/calling out there. I’d love to hear more of your story as we continue the conversation. Thanks again for being a part of what we’re doing here.

      • JR

        There’s an outpouring of the Spirit over this nation that’s on the horizon! We’re going to see a harvest like we’ve never seen before! There’s an army rising up! Millions will need discipling and we’ll need everyone “back in”…all in! There’s going to be joy in ministry again! Take heart – be of good cheer! Jesus has overcome!!!

  • Scott Stewart

    I lead a satellite home fellowship. Our small group watches LIVE services thru the internet from a church 180 miles away. Our pastor is totally awesome. I really believe this pastor is the real deal. For 25 years he has been at this church. He has been thru hell and back and he still stands. I left that city for work in another city . The wife and missed the anointing from that church. We checked out a few churches and even went to 1 for about a year. Then when we found out that our old church was starting a online fellowship we were the first to tune in. I find now in the modern church now pastors are afraid to speak the truth. If they do preach against sin the people rebel and stop supporting the pastor and starve him out. We live in a sinful and perverse generation. A Laodicean spirit is in the church of today. Myself I am sick of the religion and dogma that spews from the so called bible colleges of today. ( I am not into any labels of a denomination) If a man is called by God to serve as a pastor what a tragity it is to seen the fall of that pastor..Now if it is because of sin or sexual misconduct and the man is broken and contrite heart I see no reason why that man should not be restored to his calling. Now if it is because of a criminal act this is were it should be based on a case by case basis to see if he or she can be restored in ministry. In some cases being child sexual abuse I think it is prudent that that pastor not be reinstated. Now if the pastor quits because of unruly people in that church, because of a Jezebel spirit I say to that Pastor stay put. Greater is He that is in you then he that’s in the world. You wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places. Jezebel loves to go to church. Will it be easy no. I am blessed to be taught and mentored by a man that has seen so much come against him. People have slandered him. Put him down..But he still keeps standing. After a few years after a church split he had,people that did him wrong would come back and say forgive me. He welcomed them back with open arms. Now financially has it been easy for him. No. He has had and keeps trusting God in his finances. Some how he has made it thru the dark times. It would have been easier for him to quit. But he did not. God seemed to always be there for him. During the darkest hours in the ministry would be the greatest times of anointing. One day at the keyboard during service he was having an all out heart attack. He shared with us he had to make a decision. Call an ambulance or precede. He got into worship music on that keyboard..That preticular day the music was more anointed the more he sang the less the pressure on his chest. That message was the most exubrent message he preached at that time, Drs told him once God is going to take him. He shot right back at him saying Why would God fire me when there is too much to do here
    .I now am in training with him in leadership. If it should happen that I become a pastor it is my hope I will be able to be the pastor he is. But I know the price he had to pay to be were he is. TOTAL DEATH TO SELF. In this blog I want to say what an awesome pastor we have.

    • Scott Stewart

      We have 4 or 5 that come to our fellowship in our home. These people feel uncomfortable in big churches. And 1 has been reject by some of the churches here. We rebroadcast the service on Paltalk. . We reach Russia, India, Australia USA U.K Eygpt. Finnland etc. When a prayer request come in I text the prayer request and that person gets ministered to in there home. Some of these people are shut ins.

  • Karenda Bolich

    First let me say that I am 100% for ministering to X-Ministers, former-ministers, and all ministers.

    My husband and I have not served in the pastorate (yet), but we have served in the field of itinerant (traveling from place to place) ministry for going on 16 years. I can personally affirm that full-time ministry, ordained ministry, or whatever you want to call it, is extremely difficult.

    In our world of ministry, we were lead to give up many common aspects of life for the sake of our “call.” For 12 years we had no home outside of our RV. For the first quarter of that time, we lived and traveled out of a Ford Escort – no, really, we did. Our little cruiser was packed with everything we owned. For years we had no stable relationships, much less friendships. Mind you, this was before the social media boom of Twitter and Facebook. Outside of our own little two-person family, we had no stability at all. Even today, we are in “church” 4 to 5 days out of every week, and that’s not counting the 2 1/2 months of summer camps. And then there’s the money – which never seems to reach our pockets. It goes on and on…

    Anyone who’s responded to the call to full-time ministry has stories similar to ours. Here’s the point.

    Full-time ministry is more than just difficult, it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for The Sweet Life, well, that show is on Disney each afternoon. You won’t find that in ministry. When did Jesus ever promise peace? Weren’t we promised a sword? When were we promised ease, wasn’t it trouble? When were we promised fame, weren’t we promised persecution? Ministry has never been about our comfort, it’s always been about us pouring out our lives for a lost and dying world – some of which sit in our services every week. It is only natural that ministry is going to be extremely demanding, taxing, unfair, depressing, and even frustrating, but ultimately, as Jesus and the disciples demonstrated, ministry is about self sacrifice for the sake of the call and the sake of The Kingdom.

    I for one, have experienced pain, depression, hurt, loss, and all that goes with our (Jeremiah and I) call. Yet I know this is where I was created to live and serve. I’ve learned the tough lesson of finding my peace and comfort in Him and Him alone. He is our only chance, the Rock in which we stand.

    • Thanks for the comment, Karenda. I greatly appreciate the time you sent writing our your thoughts. I don’t think most people would disagree with you, actually. We are all called, whether or not to full-time ministry, to preach the gospel to all people. And you’re right, we were told that it wasn’t going to be easy. I would say, though, that people handle things quite differently. Trials and experiences range dramatically from person to person and each one has their own form of processing that takes place. For some, it might be significantly harder to process the hurt or abuse that took place during their time of ministry. Did God say it was going to be easy? Absolutely not. But I also firmly believe that He calls us, on occasion, to rest and to find our strength in Him. Again, thanks for your comment!

      • Jennifer Brindley

        My name is Jennifer and I am 57 years old. I moved to Murray Kentucky 3 years ago. I was saved 6 years ago. I went to a church in Minneapolis for the 3 years before moving to Kentucky. I went to about 6 churches here in Murray before I found the one I have been going to for 2 years. My pastor is the most awesome pastor I have ever found. He is 65 years old. He was saved at the age of 8 but did not start serving the Lord until he was 23. We have 3 members in our church. One 15 yr old girl, her mother and myself. Brother Reed has been a pastor there for 28 years. He is a very educated man and was a professor at a college before he took a job at a carpet store. He has been at the carpet store for 25 yrs and is now making 8 dollars an hour. He was engaged once, but that relationship broke because she would not serve the Lord as he did….wholeheartedly!. He is a virgin and does not own a TV. He has never taken an alcoholic beverage except to observe the Lord’s Supper. He sold a portion of his families property and tithed 16,000.00 dollars. i am trying to give an example of how close he walks with our Lord. He gives 3 sermons a week and teaches the bible during his sermons which last 2 hours each. i have learned more from him in 2 years than my entire life elsewhere. He lives over an hour from our church and has never missed a sermon in 28 years. He came and preached at the church for 5 years back in the 90’s without anyone coming to service. He has a great sense of humor and is a wonderful teacher. He cares deeply of the members (there has been more than 3 members years back) he has been fired from schools and other jobs because of his beliefs. He would not work a beer tent at one and would not promote a play that had scantily clad girls in it on another. my friends and family tell me I go to church to much and try to get me to stop going to my church. Long story short….this pastor is not a quitter!! And sets an example closes to a servant of our Lord above another I have ever met.

        • tanyam

          Wait, what? Something about this doesn’t smell right.

        • Garrett

          I’m a currently serving pastor and this sounds like someone who shouldn’t be pastoring. After 28 years, a 3 person church is not viable. Pastoring is ALL about people and people should want to be around your pastor. BTW I not only would serve in the beer tent, I’d also partake!

          • David

            Pastoring should be all about God’s message and serving. People come cause people are seeking God. “He who was least shall be the greatest amoung you all.”
            Ministry is not entertainment for the people. I find a lot of pastor who have large congregations and boost about it, only tell the people what they wanna hear. Like drinking alcohol is ok.
            Sure the bible has nothing against drinking alcohol, but it is doorway to drunkeness.
            Let’s be real. How many people really drink cause they like the taste. Most people end up a bit drunk. Way to go pastor. Be the cool one and lead us to our spiral downfall.
            It’s going to be interesting how you respond to this.
            A) arrogant with anger and pride
            B) like Jesus

            I hope its “b” since that’s who you’re suppose to be more and more a like

          • Gail

            Thank you David! I wish more pastors would have a back bone!

          • MichaelWH

            Eating is the doorway to overeating and obesity…perhaps we shouldn’t eat!
            “All things in moderation”

    • Jean Starr Rutherford

      Amen!!!!

  • Furino

    I like the advice given by a pastor who said, “In counseling ministry, never give more to solving someone’s problem than they are willing to give themselves.” The mistake of giving more than the person seeking help, is an easy pitfall. It’s called co-dependency. Hope this helps someone today.

    • Great advice. Thanks for the comment, Furino.

    • I think Furino, you make a good point. As a pastor myself, I know in many cases the burden and stress in a lot of ways in self induced. Of course, this is not the case for everyone, and there is def a genuine pressure for people and the Church ‘to perform’. I have def seen friends and colleagues being pushed to the point of breaking.

      That being said, as a bit of a confession, we ministers sometimes allow our burden for the ministry and people to become all consuming. If you are able to find a position that wishes to take care of you I would recommend a couple things.

      1. Don’t expect of yourself more then what is healthy and make sure the church you are going to work at understands this as well.

      2. Most times our schedules get away from us and we work 70 hour weeks because we let it and in many cases we are not disciplines enough. Even, having time limits on meetings. I know that sounds harsh, but in no other profession would they let the person needing the meeting dictate the time for this.

      3. Equip and empower the congregation to do ministry. Maybe you as a pastor are not that personality to do that, to lead in such a way as you have a shepherds heart. That is all right. But find someone who is and has the no how and gained the right to lead and empower them to do so. They are wired to do it, so don’t feel guilty. And be willing to share the glory.

      4. Don’t feel guilty to ask for help and inspire your church to work along side. What I have found over the years, most people are just waiting for an ask. Don’t create ministries and fill the holes. Instead, find the passions and gifts of people and build ministries around them.

      5. Know when to kill a ministry or pass someone off. We can’t do everything and can’t be everything to everyone. If someone else can’t lead a ministry, maybe for a season it needs to die. And sometimes you need to get people ministering to one another.

      6. Find support outside the walls of your church. Look for other ministers to feed into you and also feed into. Support and prayer. As well, make time for yourself with God, with family and for yourself.

      7. Give yourself a break. Don’t cary the world on your shoulders. You know? We may plant and water. But God does the growing.

      8. Lastly, if you could see yourself doing anything else, MAYBE you should. Ministry is hard work and it isn’t for the faint of heart as the article above showed. Now, I am not saying run at the first sign of trouble, but ask yourself: Are you cCOMPELLED to do this? Are you CALLED to do this? And please hear me on this: Do not make that decision hastily. Get guidance, prayer and seek God, cause maybe the church needs you and you need to push through (with some much needed changes in how you do it of course).

      Now, I know all this is easier said then done, but I would still reiterate that 90% of the battle is in our own heads. We put much to much pressure on ourselves, and in a lot of ways that no one else is.

      And if you are in a context that is unhealthy enough that this pressure ‘to perform’ as a super human, maybe you need to get out. Some church somewhere which wants to care and love their pastor is out their looking for you.

      • Drake, somehow I missed this. Thanks for the time you took in writing this out. I’m very grateful. Would love to know if you’d consider writing up something similar for the site. Please contact me at bo (at) bolane (dot) org. Thanks.

        • Sure. It would be my pleasure to help in any way I can. I will send an email right away.

      • YES to all of this. Thanks Drake. I’ve been in full time ministry for 14 years and just this week have started a six month sabbatical (along with my husband) to figure some of this stuff out. Busyness and lack of self-care, and filling gaps rather than ministering out of who you are have a way of creeping up and blindsiding people like “us” and if we don’t address issues like this properly we can end up in burn-out. My husband and I are so grateful that God has nudged us as he’s done and that by his grace we can make changes before we rule ourselves out of ministry entirely. Perhaps we’re a little burned… but not burned out. So thankful for that distinction. We feel a great responsibility to not only make some changes in how we serve and lead, but also to help others around us learn how to serve in a more healthy, well-balanced way so that long-term ministry can be sustainable… and hey, how about a bit more fun as well?! Appreciate you taking the time to write all of this out and I hope your message (and others like it) will spread far and wide.
        Cheers,
        Adriel

        • Adriel, I am glad to hear that this helped and that you guys have taken needed steps for yourselves and your future. Always a blessing to be encouraged like that and thank you for the kind words.

          It may help to read the whole post that came out of this. It is flushed out a bit more. You can find it here: http://www.expastors.com/these-9-things-that-could-revolutionize-your-ministry/

          Also, I would be willing to connect further if you guys wanted.

    • RevDave71

      Excellent point. In my first pastorate, I stayed ten years and nearly burned myself totally out. My family was so distraught. But my mentality was, the church had a history of churning through pastors and I was going to stick it out, take the beating, and heal the congregation. I had a savior complex, and many pastors do.

      Meanwhile, my pastor friend two doors down from me was at his church three years when a key leader led an uprising against his vision. He had one heart-to-heart meeting with several leaders, found out they weren’t budging, and within two months, the pastor was accepting a call to another church. I was appalled at first. Why didn’t he stay and fight? But now I see the wisdom of his decision. He wasn’t willing to give to their vision more than they were willing to give to it. He’s a very healthy guy these days and doing well in ministry.

      I recently left my church after reaching the same point with them. The old me would have stayed and been a martyr. My experience told me otherwise. It was a great move for me, and one I wish I had made in the first pastorate. Pastors have a martyr and savior mentality. I think that’s part of the burnout rate.

  • ken johanson

    Every person should have a set of transferable job skills and interests regardless of their ptimary career choice.I returned to a secular communications job after 6 years serving in a mega church ministry. After 14 years I chose to return to ministry when I felt called to a specific role in a medium sized church. I have generally worked at 40% less salary in ministry than the marketplace. Sometimes I have done more care and ministry in the secular workplace than I have been able to share in the church. Often church folks want the staff to run programs, fire up everyone on Sunday and then stay out of the way. Please don’t bother challenging people to step up and take responsibility for their own spiritual walk and development of their family.
    Currently, thanks to God’s blessing and a conservative financial lifestyle, we are able to consider leaving ministry due to concerns about church direction and leadership and the needs of our family. Retiring and self funding the next ministry God calls me to is a reality because I applied the gifts, talents and experiences I was blessed with to a variety of jobs that provided a stable income and home for my wife, six children and myself. God can provide if we open our eyes to the possibilities.

    • Ken, thanks so much for the comment. I appreciate your thoughts.

    • Dow

      I agree Ken. After I left full time ministry I entered the sales force, but I was grateful for my theater arts training and experience that helped me to find professional work in that field. That was a long time ago and I still depend in those experiences God allowed me to have because I just started a new career as an audio book narrator. I believe our schools of ministry should be encouraging and possibly teaching future Pastors “other” skills or at least encouraging them to nurture their “God given” talents besides the norms within the core curriculum. Just some thoughts from an ex – pastor. Peace!

    • texas tom

      i agree 100% and i am advising all young people going into ministry (i have been a part of 6 who have) to learn secular skills.

    • Antonio

      I resigned from the congregation as minister after 3.5 years of service. No one desire to follow Christ but to have church programs, and service. Only three would show up for a Bible study or Sunday School. No support for evangelism but the congregation wanted growth but will not walk on faith with me. So I resign and now I minister whenever I meet people with needs.

  • Sboueb

    Hello,
    just a quick question: so why the heck do we have so called “full time pastors”? I explain: having someone we can put on “all the burdens we might have”, including our own responsibility is by all means unhealthy, so no wonder they go burnout, and I was unfortunately not very surprised at this article.
    Here is a suggestion: what if instead, we have many men, all involved at, let say, 5% of their time (which is not negligible still)? Nobody gets paid, nobody complains (well in theory…), nobody is fully responsible, so everybody takes on her/his own responsibility. Granted, this might not be very realistic (in practice there is always someone working more than others, just like in public service…), but these thoughts come from the son of a pastor (of a very small church) who had a regular secular job so everyone acknowledged that he could not do everything himself. BTW: another benefit of this: the pastor actually working in a secular Cie is far closer to the people because now he understands better what their lives really are, and stops talking nonsense that only “full time ministry” can (really?) afford.

  • PJS

    Why is it that when someone decides to no longer work inside a church setting that he/she has left “the ministry”? Why are there whispers of failure and shame when leaving a church position? Is this the pinnacle of all pinnacles? I have come to believe that ministering in the marketplace can be the best venue for truly interacting with people who need to know God. We place too much emphasis on “the ministry” – as if those of us who make a living by working at a church are somehow to be revered. I think it’s much more difficult for a person to live out the mission of Christ and minister in the marketplace than to do so inside the context of the church. A person is not a failure for no longer drawing a paycheck from a church.

    • Thanks for the comment. You may be right. We may put too much emphasis on “the ministry” as you put it. But the reality is, that’s the way the modern American church is laid out. Does it need to be fixed? Probably. Is that going to happen tomorrow? Probably not.

      • Justin

        I feel that your analysis is right about the church, but it is also right about the marketplace as well. I was a hospital chaplain and I relocated a great distance for that job. The problems I ran into were two chaplain supervisors–they were lesbians. It is a lifestyle choice I do not agree with. When asked about my views I was honest about them. Not too long afterwards, I ran into problems. A minor complaint was made about me from another employee–I have no idea whom made it–and I was put on the fast track for disciplinary action. I was told if anything else came up, then I would be moved to further along the disciplinary process. No more complaints were made, but I was still moved further along. Essentially, I had to resign or I would eventually be fired–I chose resignation. There were plenty of other things that happened though. I just wanted to say this to point out that it isn’t the pastorate that pastors are leaving–it’s also the marketplace world or other places ministers are.

        • Antonio

          I had to agree biblical views no longer holds value in a modern American society. My problem was too many complaints in reference to God’s word offending people. Be careful of the message you preach or do not offend the TGLB. Very little support for Bible Study, Sunday School, evangelism and for the minister. I’m tired of giving so much and no one appreciated the work to spread the gospel. Minister for three and half years with no pastor anniversary for the pastor not one thank you. Now I minister without the walls.

          • Antonio

            After years of serving in small churches, attending and graduating from a number of university and seminary. I realized there’s more preacher than churches to hire. I submitted 100s of resumes while working in the military, and civilian sector to find very little are seeking pastors outside of their association or group. Some are seeking ministers from out of states not from their local communities or 50 miles within their location.

          • Antonio

            In regards to Chaplain ministry no matter the credential earned its never enough. The Army / Air Force say I’m too old, hospitals require CPE -Clinical Pastoral Education through another university graduate program. You think holding a Master of Divinity, Master of Religious Education, Master of Art Degree, Ecclesiastic Endorsement and Ordination and License is enough but its not for some churches and institutions. Either you have too much or not enough especially when it comes to be selected to serve as pastor. What is a minister to do when he 50 and owns a home? Is there still a need for men of my credentials with over 15 years of experience?

          • Lukas Montgomery

            Maybe I would say to seek God and find out from Him where you need to be, and to walk in in the Spirit. To many pastors that I have known, the knowledge is in the head and not in the heart, or it is a career and not a calling. I know the missionary field is in great need and that is where you see Jesus working maricles. I would much rather be outside of the four walls of the church than inside. Thank you for sharing your frustration though. It is confirmation to me from what I felt God was telling me.

          • Ken Stone

            You hit the nail on the head! I have been in “the ministry 40 years and served as the full time pastor of the same Church for 31 years. Attendance fluctuating between 19 and 165! I can tell you from experience that fullness of Holy Spirit is the key! My mantra is, “Without Holy Spirit the BEST you can do is the best YOU can do!”. I know my best is not enough. Jesus said, ” You shall receive power after Holy Spirit has come upon you… ” It is my opinion through observation that most in ministry are not serving under the influence is the Spirit. If not for Him I would have quit decades ago! Eph 5:18 “… Keep on being filled with the Spirit!”

          • Dave Edson

            First, I’m not in “the ministry.” However I have been quite close to a few, close enough to consider them good friends and not simply the guy in the pulpit. Your comment about the Holy Spirit is right on. We as humans are dead to sin and being dead we are helpless to help ourselves or others. We can sew the seed of the word, but the Holy Spirit does the rest. His words will not return to Him empty. They will accomplish His work. Quit blaming yourselves and drop to your knees and back to basics. His will is being done. Godspeed to you all.

        • Pk

          You don’t have to feel ashamed of the way that you believe about the Bible about lesbians and about what God thinks but you just repeated Society . And political correctness do not necessarily represent God he is.God is your judgge. Not the two CO workers. Please God he will make your enemies be 3-ashamed. Revelations 3:3-11.
          Isaiah 54-17
          You pass the test
          Don’t park where the enemy tried to paralyze you dust yourself off set your face on your Maker 😇 He alone is G-D YESHUAH(JESUS most powerful name)Holy Spirit guide your steps ordered by the FATHER HIMSELF.

          • Pk

            Know your enemy.
            Anything that kills steals destroys comes from the enemy. God is the creator of life not death. Hurts injuries can grow to infection of not washed cleaned and disinfectant or ointment to stop the bacteria. You may have to repeat the process. Words do hurt & sting getting stung by a bee is different than a wasp with a bee you out the stinger bee dies. But wasps can sting poison into you several repeated times and usually doesn’t die hydrocortizonr cream to soothe & stop the spread of poison. Unforgiveness ties you to the stinger let go so it won’t kill your life force…us it hurt like neck. Temporary usually. Write over stinging WORDS ‘TEMPORary’ it came to pass….
            But speak to the WORDS use your authority with IT IS WRITTEN…& PULL DOWN every word that does not agree with what GODS WORD SAYS ABOUT THAT CIRCUMSTANCR. SPEAK TO THE
            MOUNTAIN COMMAND IT TO BE CAST INTO THE SEA.AND NOT RETURN TI YOU. IT’S HARD TO DO MAY HAVE TO REPEAT FOR IT TO TAKE AFFECT.
            FSTHER SON & HOLY SPIRIT GODS A GS ARE ACTIVATED BY GODS WORD THE BIBLE. We are more powerful by agreement in prayer….

            Galatians tells us the difference between
            Works of the FLESH
            AND
            FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT..

            LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR WEAPONS OF WAR power gifts
            Faith Healing Working of Miracles

            Revelation gifts
            Knowledge
            Wisdom.
            Discerning of Spirits.
            (Not people) last
            Gifts of the voice
            Languages of men & angels
            Interpretation of both and prophecy info about the future from GOD HIMSELF. Those gifts Empower you for Ministry that doesn’t mean you won’t have trouble but God says he has overcome the enemy and we must fight like he fights see what he says do what he says to do and nothing else that’s how Jesus operated his ministry but he had to be empowered first and the enemy did tempt him but he knew how to use his weapons it is written it sounds cliche but it’s not and yes I Minister outside the church now relationship with Jesus is different than religion prayer fasting yes and giving only where God says to give. Following in the footsteps of the master is difficult it costs everything and make sure that things are in order God first
            Spouse and family and Ministry don’t mix the two hard to do I struggle everyday also and sometimes I don’t succeed but I get up and try again I hope you will also and forgive yourself give yourself permission to fail Jesus will help you get up again just like children when they’re learning to walk but we don’t stay children forever that should bring a smile to your face God bless you all

    • gabi532

      it’s church lingo.. we have lingo like everyone else.

      • MichaelWH

        perhaps we should use Biblical lingo ..not some fabricated lingo

    • JAK

      I cannot imagine a more difficult profession than that of a pastor. Some of the happiest ministers I have observed, however, seem to be bivocational, those who work in smaller churches and have another “job” in the secular world. God’s blessings on all our ministers and pastors. Theirs is a profession of immeasurable importance in the face of today’s declining moralities and the desperate need for our Savior.

      • Roy Payne

        Exactly the point of my post.

        • Billy Stines

          I too am a invitational pastor 2years in now and so far so good

      • I’m a happy bivocational pastor 🙂 Being bivocational has its own challenges, but it also frees from some of the challenges listed in this article.

      • DoC

        I recall many years ago, the group i was with at the time had a church that met in my house. My job mostly was putting a tape in the player,hardly ever did I say anything near a “sermon” but there were times when somebody was going through something and we would pray it out, have council or whatever. I worked full time. Just about ten adults and the kids. It was a beautiful time in my life.

    • Honordads

      Yep. Just for fun, change “ministry” to “small business” and “pastor” to “small business owner” and see how it reads.

      By the way, I’m helping hire an associate pastor at our church. Half of the resumes I’m seeing are pretty miserable. Many can’t form an error-free or complete sentence. If that’s any indication, maybe many pastors are discouraged because they really should be doing something else.

      • A Teacher

        Actually, I changed “pastor” to “Christian school teacher” and it still fit.

      • Bob Cheney

        I’ve owned two owned two small businesses and I’ve pastored for 6 years. There is absolutely no comparison of the two in terms of stress, challenges of guilt, or relational conflict. Yes, there are always going to be challenges in life regardless of what you are doing and who you are interacting with. But the comparison of a small business owner to a pastor simply does not equal one for one.

        • Honordads

          Great personal insight, brother. Interesting thought on “challenges of guilt” too. Would like to hear more on that.

          Am currently serving on the board with our senior pastor, who also spent many years in the private industry. As a mentor to many young pastors here in New England he sees them being swamped by the challenges you mention in large part because they lack (and aren’t interested in learning) basic business skills (leadership, management, writing, budgeting, staffing, etc). Other than going to a Maxwell course, or hiring guys who have management chops to complement their pastoral ones, it seems like we should do more to help pastors learn about running the business end of their churches.

          • MichaelWH

            Perhaps their shouldn’t be a “business end” of the church!

          • Loretta McCutchen

            There is a business end to the church Michael or else even the apostles of the golden age would have never gotten as far as they did. They listened to God and carried the heartbeat of the ark in the spirit, by doing all they could to uphold and spread the Gospel

          • Mike Fretz

            Or maybe the problem is that the church needs to stop expecting the ministers to do everything and realize that all of us are called to serve in the body. There are realistically a limited number of people who are going to have personalities that will make them both good pastors and good administrators. What we really need is a larger percentage of our church bodies to get involved and offer their skills and talents to the church to support our pastors, rather than always assuming that the pastor can do it all.

      • Frustrated

        I feel bad for whatever associate pastor you hire as the it is obvious he or she will get little support or encouragement from you.

        • Honordads

          Hmm…why would you expect that?

          • pastorme

            Obviously…

          • Rodney Frederick

            Ministry is hard sometimes people forget your human too. You are the one they look to when things are bad but rarely remember any other time. My heart goes out to those in the trenches.

          • k80fab

            I have had a successful small business, and I’ve been in the ministry. Believe me, ministry is ‘WAY, WAY harder than running a small business. Just, unbelievably ‘way harder. Honordads, it is not even like comparing apples to oranges. It’s like comparing apples to supernovas. Not even close to the same thing. I, too, feel sorry for whoever you hire if you think this is the same thing. Ministry is much, much more challenging.

        • Dave Edson

          I see no link between his observation of the educational observations he makes and the way he supports his pastor.

      • Andrew

        I am glad that you took Jesus story to heart when he held interviews, read resumes and discounted people for their intelligence…. oh wait he didn’t…. oops. Your thoughts are more akin to those Temple Authorities that Jesus narrative rallied against that of a man in service to Christ…

      • qommander

        @Honordads: Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

    • Loretta McCutchen

      So true PJS, If a pastor/leader thinks its all about the money, they certainly did not get the memo. Ministry is not about the minister, even though a minister needs to be ministered to, to keep up their strength, but those that are ministered to. But when I have witnessed ministry done right, both the minister and those that are ministered to, will be ministered to by God, that way the giving is a never ending circle of love. I also agree concerning the pinnacle. When a minister experiences the same thing that Jesus went through when the devil took him to the top of a mountain and showed him all the good stuff He could have if He would just give into the desire of wanting treasure on earth, then they would be at risk for falling prey to the fatalities of non-commitment to Christ, what I like to call commercial Christianity, similar to pulling up to a drive through window and asking the one that’s taking your order to super size that unhealthy meal. Now when that leader or pastor chooses to uphold faith in God not matter how dastardly the consequences may seem, Then is when the true blessing comes. Complete faith in God no matter what you think it looks like to you and others. For example: If God is speaking to you as a leader or pastor to go a certain direction for the benefit of those that assemble together to worship God, then you should do it. God has His reasons for why He does what He does, and we need to just trust Him.

      • rudy

        I actually disagree here. Unfortunately it’s now considered selfish to want to properly clothe your children once in a while. Or to go on vacation more than once a decade. When pastors sign up they believe they are following God and they are doing it by faith but what ends up happening often is the enter a relationship of abuse. Between the “church” and the minister.

        What I mean is the “church” has a structure setup to keep the people up and the minister down. Instead of working as a team and everyone being blessed All the effort is expected to come from the top down and God forbid you teach to lon on finances and God’s plan for them. Don’t touch how I spend my money Pastor!

        In reality it’s the selfishness of others and the innocence of ministers that perpetuate this.

        Pastors need better boundaries and the church needs to grow up some.

        Not a perfect rule for every situation of course but it applies the majority of time.

        Feedback welcomed 🙂

        • Janjay

          Better boundaries is right. Right on!

        • Loretta McCutchen

          Agreed Rudy that is also very important, especially nowadays

      • David Wink

        Amen! Perfectly worded! Many are called, few are chosen!

      • MichaelWH

        Tell that to me after you’ve been ran out of town OR threw your time and savings away to only watch ungodliness rule.
        Why do so many ministers get into politics? Simply because politicians would make “great American church leaders”. Not much difference in the eyes of churchianity today

        • Loretta McCutchen

          What you are saying makes perfect sense Michael

    • Andrew

      There is a bold arrogance that the church structure of today is related to God or the bible… and it is really not. The church buildings tower over our communities and lack humility, and as such, are not of Christ. Those who enter these buildings to speak or listen are also not of Christ. Yet, you feel “called” to minister and see the only option is the church institution – a pyramid structure no different that the structure “Moses” was freeing people from. Jesus said it best, when 2 or 3 of you gather in my name, I will be there… telling us all that it is through small gatherings we can cope with challenges… The church is not like that at all… and really… when did Paul or Jesus or Daniel set down EVEN ONE BRICK to build a church… they didn’t. No clergy has ever really read the bible… but instead learned to read as others taught you… and thus never saw the truth of what it actually says…. You taught people to believe in God, yet, none of the characters “believed in God” – they knew. Do not search the scriptures for the law for it will not be found in them – it is within your hearts and minds. Ask yourselves, what is this “law” that is not written down. When you know the law, all the stories take on a whole new meaning… a meaning that is true for all mankind.

    • PastorJ

      Great post PJS. I’ve said this same thing for several years. I have served for over 17 years and “never…ever” received a paycheck. The church could never afford it.

      • Loretta McCutchen

        Pastor J with all due respect, maybe you should be the one who revamps the whole science behind the church paying up! Just sayin!
        The church I attend holds each person responsible for their tithing.
        The pastor will say, from the pulpit, don’t come cryin to me if you’re sick, unless you know for a fact that you are giving to the lord for the furtherance of ministry.
        This is my words, if someone is partaking of the Lords table and not bringing somethin to the table like the woman that came to wash Jesus feet brought something to the table in humility, then repent or get on down the road, maybe some church will take those who are beggars that refuse to take part of the responsibility of the table if the Lord.
        I’m no trying to be mean to folks, and I ain’t no preacher. But I believe you, I’ve seen and heard people say I just don’t have it to give. Well if they would give all they had in th first place, God will honor that. But I’ve always believed that if we give at least our 10% God will have nor us and have our backs and go before us.
        When I was homeless with no income, When ai got saved, I picked up what people dropped in the streets as my tithe. And the lord honored it.
        As we all do our parts, and not keep back part like Annanias and Sphira did and it cost them their life, we will always have what we need, and best of all we will still have God.
        God bless you

    • Andrey

      You “feel like it’s more difficult to live out the mission at the marketplace” precisely because you have never been a pastor and knows what it feels like to experience the pressure everyday. Keep your one sided opinion between you and God, otherwise you will find yourself in a pile that you “felt” you would never be in!

  • Jesse

    First off, I’m a chaplain with a lot of friend’s in the ministry. I have seen and heard many of the things written in the article and the responses. One thing I have noticed is that when pastors are let go or leave there denominations do little in the way of helping. I’m sure there are exceptions to this but I know a few who feel left out in the wilderness.

    • Jesse, what you’ve brought up is actually quite huge. If denominations got behind the numbers and started working with their pastors, we’d probably see a large drop in these stats. I’d love to know more about what current denominations are doing to support their pastors and the ones on their way out. Thanks for the great comment!

      • Lisa

        I am not an ex-pastor but I do have a little experience with the topic as I am a ‘pk’ or pastors kid. While at the first church my dad pastored after going to bible school he experienced a lot of what is on this list, resulting in our family leaving the church. My dad then went to seminary to get a degree in counselling and through the support people and good friends and mentors that he had he decided that he would go back to pastoring and when he was done seminary got a job as pastor at a new church. The next 12 years weren’t always easy and he definitely worked way more than 40 hours a week. He was personally attacked by members of the church a few times, we even had to end a family vacation a few weeks early once to come back home and deal with an emergency in the church. However this church was also a great example of how loving your pastor and his family will do nothing but help the church as my family was very loved and supported by this church.
        The reason I am replying to this specific conversation is that my dad spent the last 2 years of his life working for the Baptist Conference of British Columbia as sort of the ‘pastor to the pastors’ where most of his job was travelling to the different churches in BC that were part of the conference and preaching but also ministering to the pastor and the pastoral team helping with things like conflict. I know that not all denominations have support systems like this in place and think that is a disservice to the people who are serving in their churches and not just the pastors.

        • Thanks for the comment, Lisa. It seems that having a system in place for denominations to support pastors and churches in transition, that might be a good way to drop these stats. I’d love to hear more on how your dad worked with pastors.

      • Anna N.

        I am 60 years old, and have been a pastor in three different congregations, one as an associate and two as a solo pastor. I’ve served for almost 18 years. If I had any viable options, I would have left long ago. The pastoral ministry has negatively impacted my emotional and physical health. I feel beaten down and ready to implode. That being said, what Jesse has said is absolutely correct. Ours is a large denomination, but with congregational polity. Our ex-bishop made it clear from the outset of his tenure that he did not intend to be a pastor to the pastors. I believe his successor is of the same mindset. The judicatory rarely seems to support the pastor in a conflict situation, as that would anger the congregation – and the benevolence the congregations send make their budgets and their salaries. They offer no emotional support either. Jesse is right. There is no help to be found there.

  • lewrites

    People have to realize that pastors aren’t supermen and make sure these pastors know that the work they are doing is appreciated. The pastor at my church recently retired after 30+ years in the ministry, 25 of them at our church and now that he’s gone, I feel like our church has somewhat lost their identity. Right now we have an interim, but I worry about the guy who will be coming to fill the slot full time. I just hope we don’t put unrealistic expectations on him.

    • Yes, that seems like it’s a difficult place to be as a church. It might be a good idea, since you’re aware of the dangers of ministry burnout and pressure, that you can work with the new pastor on some level, giving him guidance and resources to make the transition as successful as can be.

    • Jimmy

      All of this just makes me sadder. I don’t know if I can find whatever it is I, an expastors, needs here. Thanks anyways. Good luck to the lot of ya who dare to try again.

  • So true. I believe Pastors need to take ownership back of their own lives, and teach the congregation what a healthy balance for them is. Lately I have been saying no to ministries that rely soley on me, and yes to ones where a church member is passionate and wants to lead it. I become their equipper (eph 4) which I think is the Pastors true role anyway. I would recommend reading “Me to We” by Alan Nelson 🙂 I am 5 years in and loving every second!

    • Jennifer, thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll have to check it out. And thanks for joining the conversation!

  • Jeff6times7

    I admit that a pastor has to deal with other people’s problems as well as his own but it strikes me as odd that a pastor could get into ministry and not be educated enough to realize that he’s taking on such a monumental task. I’ve read how seminaries on the whole are pretty lousy but I had no idea that they are so lousy that they produce 1700 failures per month. Surely these are folks who just up and decide to enter the ministry without any education. Right?

    • Thanks for joining the conversation. To answer your question, I’m sure there are ones who enter the ministry without an education but to say that the ones leaving are those without an education is quite the leap. I’d argue probably the opposite.

      • Jeff6times7

        Then their education isn’t worth much. I’m all for knowing church history and knowing the difference between arminius v calvin v augustine v edwards and the difference between various hermeneutics and how to read greek, hebrew, and aramaic.

        But if only 40% of pastors report serious conflict with a parishioner, then I think something’s wrong with their education. It should be much closer to 100% of pastors.

        • I’d love for you to expound on this a little more. I’m not sure I understand the relation between an education and conflict.

          • Jeff6times7

            Recognizing conflict and knowing how to deal with it is an education thing. Either that education comes directly from God’s word or it comes via the traditional school route. If the seminaries aren’t properly educating pastors how to deal with conflict then something horrible is wrong. And, of course, it is due to the Curse but having 1700 pastors leave the ministry each month points to a problem with the seminaries not upholding God’s word as the ultimate authority.

          • Lonnie King

            Jumping in on this thread…please forgive the intrusion.

            With all due respect, Jeff, it seems you are assuming that the only conflict pastors experience with parishoners involves biblical or doctrinal issues. But I think that the majority of pastors who speak of experiencing conflict with parishoners are talking about some form of conflict other than doctrinal issues. I know that was the case in my past experience and one of those situations was a major catalyst in driving me out of the ministry for good 12 years ago.

            Being prepared for doctrinal conflict in the process of pastoral education in no way prepares you for the psychology of dealing with obstinate humans — who very well may doctrinally with you on everything. But, being aware that we’re in for a fight in the spiritual realm does not necessarily we are equipped to get into verbal jousts with others over how to spend the church’s treasury or who should or shouldn’t speak at the women’s conference.

            As ridiculous as they may sound, are very real conflicts that pastors deal with. And as prepared as you may be to rightly divide the Word, if you’re not a confrontational type, these peripheral conflicts can cause mental, emotional and physical stress.

            I don’t see how it relates to education at all, unless the seminaries and Bible colleges of the world are failing to teach future pastors to be psychologists as well. (SPOILER ALERT: they ARE failing to do that.)

            Just my thoughts…

          • Jeff6times7

            I can see how my first paragraph might lead one to believe I was talking about only one domain of conflict. I wasn’t. I meant all kinds. Whether they be a brother in sin, a family leaving the assembly, a marriage in turmoil the pastor has to deal somehow with them all. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a monumental task. If a pastor forgets that, then he ought to reread Acts 20 and 2 Tim 4. I don’t see it any different than a sinner (regenerated or not) being reminded of Rom 3:23-25. While I do agree with Bo in his original blog regarding pastors needing close friends/colleagues who can help them along, if there really are 1700 per month leaving the ministry, then again, I say, that points to a problem with the seminaries not properly discipling pastors in the Acts 20 and 2 Tim 4 tradition. That goes for pastors discipling elders and so forth.

  • Joshua Stewart

    Bo, thank you for a clarion-call reminder to the realities of daily life for the pastor, spouse, and children. As an Associate at a church in the Northeast, I have seen the carnage of ministry in churches and para-church ministries of all shapes, sizes and denominations. May God use your work, and this website and ministry, to do two things: 1) remind people of the humanity of their pastor (even when he or she is unable/unwilling to show it); and 2) bring healing and restoration to those who left the ministry due to any of the reasons outlined in your article (or any other cause). May we all be reminded, as we seek to serve God in our appointed calling, that our value is not in what we produce, or accomplish, or achieve in His Name but in the fact that we are His.

    • Joshua, thanks for the encouragement and for the comment. It’s my prayer that this site brings healing and restoration to many individual who have or are considering leaving the ministry. Again, thanks for your input!

  • Jeff Humphrey

    After 24+ years, I have stepped out of ministry “for a season.” Originally I was going to take about 6 months off but after a year and a half, I am still not back pastoring…And I am enjoying myself! Nearly all of your observations are spot on. Although there is “pain” in leaving the ministry and not being in the ministry, there was more pain while being in the ministry. So I enjoy this “out of Ministry” pain more than the pain “in the ministry.”

    The biggest fear that I face is that there will not be any more opportunities to pastor again but I am willing to risk it all because ministry became too painful and lonely. As far as supporting my family outside of ministry, I started a business and have become quite successful, so I still see the provision of God outside of ministry.

    • Jeff, I can definitely relate to the “pain” of being inside and outside of ministry. And I really appreciate your angle on it. It was very challenging for myself, as well, when I decided to call it quits. You never know if God may call you back, so I’d suggest taking some time to heal and find a great, healthy place to worship. Surround yourself with pastors and friends who can understand your situation and can come alongside you and help you restore. Blessings to you, brother.

      • Jeff Humphrey

        Thanks Bo. I have connected with a good church and am ministering from the sidelines. It works for now. Also, I have found new avenues of ministry. I am the Chaplain for the Sheriff’s Department. So I am not completely “out of ministry.” However, I did take about 8 months where I did no ministry to get healed and rested.

        • That’s great to hear. I know, for me personally, it took a few years getting plugged in to a healthy church were I could sit somewhat on the sidelines and work through my hurt. I’m glad that you’re not fully out of the race! I’d love to hear more of your story some time. Please feel free to connect with me.

  • Lucy

    Many realized that what they were preaching was fiction, but then also became fearful that they had no other skill set so decide to stick it out, only to become depressed, lonely, underprepared to cope and ultimately quit. There is an anonymous group to help people of cloth to resign. The clergy project. Cheers!

    • That’s a reality, indeed. Many folks have left because they no longer believe in the church or in God. We hope to come alongside individuals and let them know that God still cares for them, even though they can’t see it at the moment.

  • E Liebenberg

    I actually recently spoke to a minister that left the ministry for a completely different reason. But I can totally relate. He said that he was no longer able to “please” all the members of the congregation in one or two sermon’s on a Sunday. The time has come where people are seeking God and reading the Bible themselves. Looking for answers he was “not allowed” to answer in honesty like “why was the Sabbath day changed from Saturday to Sunday” He had endless appointments with members of his congregation regarding similar issues which tired him out, caused him to suffer from severe depression and fatigue but most of all he started to question whether he was “fit” to serve as a minister as some of the members actually were more dedicated to finding the truth regarding modern day “religion” than he was himself. He has left the ministry feeling like a failure. It took him a very long time to recover emotionally and financially.

  • Secret Pastor

    I am looking to quit being a pastor for pretty much all of the reasons listed above. I am also leaving for ongoing conflicts between the senior pastor and myself. (Too much to explain) Our church has been on a steady decline with no end in sight, we have about MAYBE 10 people in the entire church that want to be involved and SERVE. Everyone else screams “feed me” on Sunday morning and goes home for the rest of the week.

    The senior pastor is cutting one program after the other and at this point we have no outreach at all and no programs to offer people when they come through our doors. If I wasnt the pastor, I wouldnt come to our church either.

    Keep in mind – For MANY Pastors they are not only spiritual leaders in the church, but also, plumbers, janitors, carpenters, electricians, snow removal, landscapers, a secretary, counselors, dads, grampas, husbands, musicians… the list goes on. (They should teach those skills for pastors in college because they will need them)

    It’s very sad, but I can honestly say that I was closer to God before I became a pastor. I want to go on serving God, but just not as a pastor anymore.

    • Jeff

      Secret Pastor: If you just want to talk, feel free to give me a call. I serve as the Pastor to Young Adults at a church in Texas. I hear what you’re saying and I can share some advice with you that a wise one once gave to me. 281-574-2023.

      • JWE

        You should give these people a call they can help http://www.mendedwingsministries.com

      • Jeff, thanks for stepping up and offering your number and encouragement to this pastor. Such a Jesus move, bro. Thank you.

    • Timothy

      Secret Pastor:
      I’m a 15year Full-Time Pastor(somed years I had been an evangelist). I can give you my phone # and you can call me. Block your #, don’t give yor name, atonamy will be kept. I planted our church here in CA 6 years ago. I’m sure we could relate somewhere.

    • Jean Starr Rutherford

      Satan has you and the senior pastor fighting each other, so you not a united front fighting him. Wake up, its not about either one of you It’s all about Christ. Trying to minister under your own power is futile. Without Christ it’s a losing battle. I see some pastors going into the ministry as a profession or career. It’s neither one, you have to be called by God. Then they are disappointed when they don’t get what they planned. My pastor prays with purpose about every move he makes, so that he will always be doing the will of God. His job is not easy, and sometimes people don’t know about his struggles. I pray for he and his family constantly. He’s a wonderful Shepard, teacher & pastor. I thank God for him & his wonderful wife.

    • k80fab

      Honey, I have been there more than once. People will say all kinds of stupid, judgmental, holier-than-thou things to you about leaving the ministry. Most lay people have absolutely NO idea what they’re talking about on this score, so train yourself to pretty much ignore them.. There is a fellowship of people who have actually been through the ministry meat grinder who really understand how awful it can be. It is unlike any other kind of awful there is. Pay no attention to the people who think they can offer you kind advice, who think it’s “Satan” making all this garbage happen, who think somehow you didn’t do something right or who think somehow you brought this on yourself by having some sort of martyr complex. That’s all BS. Don’t listen to it. Church people can be great, and they can be absolutely despicable. There is life after ministry. And, just as in Jesus’ day, some of the nicest, kindest people out there are outside the walls of official religiosity. Like, for instance, the Samaritans. Seek them out. I wish you well on your journey.

  • JEFF EMHOFF

    Saw this link from a fb friend. I think this discussion should prompt a wider discussion regarding the structure of church which foments this epidemic condition. Maybe the organized church is too stuck and committed to its structure, but there are movements underway which are designed to involve more people with their gifts and treat leaders as people, as equals. If there is going to be a renaissance in the church, it will have to deal with these relational malfunctions. Who in their right spiritual mind could read the new testament and conclude that the gift of pastor or teacher would require a man and his family to live that way?

    • Interesting question. Thanks for joining the conversation, Jeff.

  • Dale Burke

    Bo, thanks for drawing attention to this sad reality! It is my joy to say, “It can be different!” But only if the church boards AND the pastors themselves change the approach and realign with a better, healthier model for ministry. As a pastor, I am committed to help with training, coaching and encouragement via http://www.leverageleadership.org and my book HOW TO LEAD AND STILL HAVE A LIFE, Harvest House, 2005. I will follow your blog!! Check out mine, and use if helpful. Keep up your ministry and message!

    • Thanks for the comment, Dale. Keep up the good work.

  • Kevin

    Bo, how long do you have? Do you have an e-mail address to so we can talk more?
    I have been in fulltime church ministry as associate pastor for 20+ years. 14 years ago I came to large church. Great staff, history, and potential. Then senior pastor retires, church rushes process and calls in a young pastor who immediately started working behind the scenes to get rid of me. He wanted his “friend”, who interestingly enough, had no church ministry experience. Yet he lied and manipulated so many things and then called me in one night after evening service and did what I didn’t think was possible….fired me.
    After a year of working a secular job, another church called me as associate pastor. Served there for two years until they just could no longer financially support two fulltime staff positions. So I got my “pink-slip”.
    God then led us to another church in area where we already lived. It was less pay, but it was fulltime ministry. Good church. To help supplement, I worked part-time as sports official. After 5 good years there, same story….second verse. Church was declining and financially could no longer support two fulltime staff. I took a large pay-cut in my 5th year there just to try to stay the course. So I received another pink-slip.
    What many do not understand is that when you are “let go” from a church position, you do not qualify for unemployment benefits. I fell back on sports officiating more because I was already established and growing in doing this. But this income is sporadic (for example, this month because of weather cancellations, I have lost over $1100.00)
    I am now part-time at another local church. Nice church…..but no chance of becoming fulltime here. I have pretty much given up on “looking” for a different secular job. I have considered career moves but nothing is working out. And I keep coming back that I believe this is what God intended for me to do…..otherwise he would show me a different road to take other than ministry. I’ve had churches ask for resume`…..but churches are not looking at me….and I can only guess why
    BTW….I do have a bachelors degree. But still cannot find work in this economy.
    And the untold story of how this has affected my family? I feel like a failure as a husband, a father, a provider. Strain is almost unbearable on our marriage. It is very DISCOURAGING and DESPRESSING at times. We went from being debt free to now on the edge of bankruptcy with over $50,000 debt. Some people are worried if they’ll have enough to retire on at the end of their working days? I worry about having enough at the end of the month to pay bills.
    There is no one around for ex-pastors to talk to and share. No groups to assist ex-pastors & families.

    • Kevin, yes let’s talk more. Please email me at bo (at) bolane (dot) org. My heart breaks for your situation, bro. I am indeed praying for you and your family. Unfortunately, you’re story is all too familiar. We have set up ExPastors as a way to try and combat this issue. As we grow, and I encourage you to read through the site and hear stories of other people who have gone through similar situations, we hope to provide solutions for these problems. I look forward to connecting with you.

  • Susan

    “Most pastors’ (fixed that for you) families are negatively Impacted”: as a PK, I can attest to that. The church came before our family did, no matter what. Religion was, “Don’t you ruin your father’s ministry!” It was not a relationship, it was not a deep spiritual journey. I don’t speak for every PK, but I can tell you that in our fundamentalist sect, my experience was common. As an adult, after a long spiritual journey I have decided that organized religion is not for me. This is my journey alone, and it was done with great pain and searching, but my experience with religion was not one of joy and comfort. It was mainly judgment and living in a fishbowl (AKA parsonage). I am much happier living without the bonds that I grew up with. I know my parents did the best they could, but it was not enough to keep me in the fold. I have been told, “Don’t blame God for what people did,” but churches are made up of people, are they not? I can have my faith without walls, without creeds.

  • Glenn

    i am current at the point of calling it quits. all the staticist mention are a very real ascpet of my life in ministry. every single one of them. 15yrs of ministry and i am completely exauhsted, frustrated and don’t enjoy ministry. glad i strumbled upon your website. hoping to find some help.

    • Glenn, thanks so much for joining the conversation. I’d love for you to stick around and check out the site and what we have to offer. I’d love to hear more of your story. Email me at bo (at) bolane (dot) org.

  • Randy Winesburgh

    Wait, this article is about me, but I’m not “out of the ministry.” I have been bi-vocational as a pastor, college student, and youth pastor since 1993. Each time I stepped away from a pastoral position was difficult. Each time carried its own pain. Each time I dwelt on “What did I do wrong?” Each time God healed. Now I am pastoring a wonderful body of believers who understand the need for supplemental jobs, but that only doubles the weight already carried by the pastor. I can relate to some of the comments about ministering to more people outside of the walls of the church house. I can relate to those who “burned out.” I have been functioning in “burned out” mode for several years. But I learned several years ago not to focus on the negatives about the ministry. Those negatives almost kept me out of the pulpit. The double-edged sword here is that my father was a pastor. I grew up seeing him “abused” by people in the church and wanted nothing of it. As a teen, though, I saw him turn into a Barnabus, helping other hurt pastors to heal. One man mentioned taking 6 months off. I have been mulling that idea around. I want to take a sabbatical and minister to ministers and missionaries. Again, that takes money, but God willing I’ll have enough saved to do that, even with 6 children living at home. If any X-ministers want a place to be a good church member, our doors are open on the Oregon coast.

    • Randy, thanks for joining in on the conversation and for your comments. We need more people like your father, reaching out to hurting ministers. If you feel God calling you there, I’d be the first to encourage it.

      Also, out of curiosity, what part of Oregon? I’m a product of Oregon.

      • Randy Winesburgh

        I pastored in John Day for several years and am now between Tillamook and Lincoln City in Cloverdale.

  • Brandon Pendergraft

    Let me first start off by saying that I rarely respond to articles online but this really stirred my heart. First off I would like to apologize to all of you who find yourselves in ‘career ministry’ (whatever that means as Christians, aren’t we all in ‘career ministry’) and what we as people living in this day and age have propped you up to be. It is idolatrous so often, and we in our desperation have cast you in to our image, demanded more out of you than you could ever provide, and for this I repent.

    After graduating from college, I was torn between pursuing a career in ministry or in psychology, which I had gotten my undergraduate degree in from a secular institution. I happened to find a degree that integrated Christ into the center of psychology and found out that there was a long history of folks who had gone before me in attempting to integrate their faith into a counseling ministry.

    As I began my internship at the seminary i ended up attending I had the opportunity to sit with people in many forms of career ministry, some in the church, some from the mission field, in seminary, etc. The common theme that unfolded is exactly what this article explains. People were unprepared for what the role of ministry would require out of themselves and their families, were grossly unprepared for the desperation of the people they were serving and the demands this would put upon them. It is atrocious the stories I have heard and my heart weeps for those that have been abused in ministry roles.

    Since graduating, and beginning my own practice I have had the opportunity to work with many people in ‘career ministry’, from catholic priests, to youth pastors, missionaries and their children, to pastors of mega churches, etc. and have been so blessed to be able to help them navigate this crazy world of ‘career ministry’ This is a passion of mine, and sadly something that is so under utilized in churches around our country.

    One of the things that I would include after reading this article on burnout is the lack of trust demonstrated by so many people that I have seen in ministry. Everyone always wants something from them and they never know whom to trust and who is really on their side as their is always a vested interest somewhere in their community that they have to be aware of. Sometimes I have thought of this as PTSD like symptoms as with a soldier, one becomes hyper-vigilant, self reliant, and often reclusive to escape the demands both seen and unseen perceptions of what the flock, the board, the senior pastor, the public, the kingdom, etc. are putting on you.

    The second thing I have witnessed over and over which contributes to feeling alone is the lack of mentorship on a spiritual level. It is as though you reach a position within a church and all of a sudden your spiritual walk isn’t questioned anymore. You just simply become holier than the rest of humanity and nobody worries about you anymore, until they find out that you have been watching porn for hours to try and cope, your wife leaves you to pursue a relationship with another woman, or you have an unhealthy relationship with one of the volunteers at the church, etc. at which point you are removed from your position and spit out into the world to make a go of it. We all know someone with that story.

    I feel this is getting lengthy, but felt urged to share and let folks know that you can’t believe the hype yourself. Pursuing a role in ‘career ministry’ require maybe more than ever that you find people that you admire and seek them out. Get help for those areas in your life where if you slow down from ministry and actually listen to God (which is why most of us pursued some form of ministry in the first place), let the Spirit inform those growing edges in your faith, and surrender to Him, allowing your heart to be molded and shaped into His image. Be creative as you pursue ministry ask as a part of the hiring package if a stipend for counseling, spiritual direction, etc. can be included to keep you on track with God’s plan for this ministry that you are embarking on with Him. If you are already a part of a congregation ask if they already have a program in place that can provide you with marital counseling, family counseling, etc. and if not can we start one.

    Lots of words. Mainly know that you are not alone and that there are others that can and are trained to support you in guiding you through the often absurd world of ‘career ministry’. My email is bspen333@gmail.com and would love to aid you in the process of getting help to recover from issues that arose from serving or issues that you are currently facing.

    Blessings,
    Brandon

  • concerened Christian

    I went to Southhills church in California and the Senior Pastor there, Chris Sonksen is a leader in the organization Celera group, Here is a blurb on what they do. they help so many pastors and church organizations. I highly recommend them to any church and struggling pastors, as they are not alone. http://www.celeragroup.org/

    About Celera Church Strategy Group

    “Raising the national average of church attendance.”

    Celera Group is an entirely different strategy to reach people for Christ. We seek to equip and empower the local church by sharing resources for the Kingdom. At Celera we see the opportunity to encourage church growth by partnering with local churches throughout the country, offering leadership training and sermon series resources. By working together we can offer the wisdom and resources from various leaders who are already succeeding on this journey.

    The facts prove a need: Nearly 2,400 churches nationwide closed their doors last year, and in 2000, the estimated number of churches in the U.S. was 331,000, with an average attendance of 127 people.

    We want to partner with you to help your church grow – to reach more people for Christ. In addition to the comprehensive sermon series resources, we provide pastor coaching and mentoring with a team comprised of some of the greatest leaders & innovators in the church world today.

    • concerned Christian

      I would also like to add, that pastors are not perfect, they are just like us, broken and hurt. The only one that is perfect is Jesus, we strive to be like Jesus, but will always fall short, but it is by the grace of God that we survive. We should stop putting our pastors on pedestals and serve and love them like God loves and serves us. I was reminded that the Pastor’s job is not to reach the lost, it is our job as Christians to reach the lost and the church is a place for the sick, not the healthy. We are all sick, including our pastors, that need God’s healing. We are all in this together as a body of believers.
      We should be inviting all our friends and co-workers that need Jesus to come and hear God’s comforting and healing words and feel his presence.
      I support all those in “Ministry”, being a church leader or someone sitting in the pew. We are all part of the “Ministry” and we all need to support each other.
      I hope you find this encouraging and I am so sad every time I hear that a pastor is leaving the church because they are not respected by those whom they are leading.

  • Pete Briscoe

    Bo, thanks for sharing this, it grieves me! The comment section is full of stories illustrating the stats, and they make me even more sad. I’ve been a Pastor for 22 years and these stats do not apply to me as I have been graced with a Body who cares. I long for more pastors to experience this. I would love to be a part of the conversation if you ever want to take a deep dive.

    • Pete, thanks for the comment. I’d love to hear more of your story, indeed. Please feel free to connect with me.

  • PJ

    The lack of support for pastors in todays church is unbelievable. I have worked as both a full-time / part-time pastor and I have felt everything on the list above. What I didn’t understand, during my difficult times, is why the church itself doesn’t see this as a problem. I mean, accountability, education, personal growth are all things companies due in the real world, yet in most churches today they are completely ignored. Accountability exists (i guess) in the lower leadership, but when it comes to the pastors and the senior leadership it just seems to lack.

    That’s not saying every church is like this. I have been at small churches were accountability / discipleship is obsolete and than have been at big churches where they truly love their staff and want them to be physically, spiritually and mentally sound.

    I often wonder if we have set this mentality in the church itself. That the members of the church believe that pastors are above them and therefore, they do not need those sabbaticals, or more education, or just no phone calls during off hours. We believe our pastors should be available all times of the day and night because, lets face it, that’s there job.

    I wonder if we have set that tone for churches and the members are just going off our lead.

    I love the ministry and will at one point be back in it full time, but I will go into it with the ability to say no more than yes. Lessons learned.

  • JustGettingStarted

    I’m almost 30 and have only been in fulltime ministry for 3.5 years. But I’ve felt and experienced all these things and so has my family. Sometimes I quietly wonder, “can I really do this for 30-40 years?”
    I think the number one problem we as pastors get “burned out” is because we can be all alone. I feel incredibly blessed to have multiple people/pastors outside my congregation I can talk to honestly, be encouraged and challenged. Without this I would go nuts, literally.
    Also, we have a hard time letting the rest of the world’s standards for success go and embracing what truly is Godly success in our context.
    One thing, I desperately long for is a better support system for pastors spouses. My poor wife is a helper and lazy, apathetic people just dump without even thinking about the consequences.
    And isn’t that it in a nutshell, the people we serve don’t understand ministry or healthy ministry. They have their own problems and most of the time innocently ignore the pastoral family.
    I want to despair and often due but God is so good to provide oasises in the deserts of ministry! Being cautiously optimistic that things can be better!

    • We are optimistic with you! Thanks for the comment. Having a good support system for the families of the pastors is huge. I’d like to explore that sometime.

  • Mrr82

    False stats. If 50% of pastors feel they can’t get another job that does not mean 50% who leave can’t get a job! This is a poorly written article. If anything the fact that those who leave left indicates a stronger chance they were part of the 50% who didn’t feel that way. Don’t use stats if you don’t know how to use them.

    • Timothy D. Hooper

      From the perspective of a pastor who left the ministry feeling I couldn’t get another job, I understand the stats. Sometimes people fit into both categories, as I did. I felt I needed to go back to school or get training to get anything beyond flipping burgers. I settled with a job as an Educational Assistant (not that this position isn’t admirable, just not what I wanted to do) because the principal of my children’s school offered it to me. I stayed in that job for 7 years because I believed I couldn’t do anything else. I won’t bore you with my life story but suffice to say, from my experience talking with others in full time ministry and those who have left, the statistics work.

    • Mike

      Bunk! I totally agree with the stats. It is hard to find a meaningful, good-paying job when all you’ve trained for is ministry. Go spread your hate somewhere else Mrr82…you’re probably part of the reason people like me have left ministry.

      • Mike

        I’m also calling you to repent of your sinful attitude Mrr82. Repent!

        • Jerry Irwin

          Gee, what a loving response!!!!!!

    • We all need to be careful how we interpret the stats, and not jump to conclusions, Mrr82!

      The full stat is:

      “50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.”

      Bo’s interpretation is:

      “half of the 1,700 or so pastors who leave the ministry each month have no other way of making a living.”

      Yours is:

      “the fact that those who leave left indicates a stronger chance they were part of the 50% who didn’t feel that [they can’t get a job].”

      Mine is:

      The 50% of pastors who feel so discouraged they’d leave if they could

      • … are far more likely to actually leave!

        That’s the most obvious and likely correlation.

        There may also be a correlation between feeling you can get alternate work, and leaving for that work. But leaving also requires the desire to leave, which not all of the other 50% actually have. So I think it’s a far weaker correlation.

        But we’re just speculating here: we don’t have enough data to reach solid conclusions. We’d need to separate the two sub-phrases into their own questions to do that:

        “Do you feel you want to leave the ministry?”
        And
        “Do you feel you can’t find alternate work?”

        And then correlate the results between the two questions.

        So far, we only have the percentage that answered Yes to both questions. So speculating on the makeup of the other

        (Sorry for the multiple posts, Disqus doesn’t work so well on iOS)

        • … 50%, and trying to split it between the other 3 categories, is really difficult!

        • tmcgill

          Right, and that (“speculating”) is sort of the point of the objection. The author took one statistic and applied it to a completely different question. The makeup of pastors who “would leave if they could” is by no means guaranteed to be the makeup of pastors who do leave. In fact, for the reasons that Mrr82 was attempting to point out, it is almost guaranteed to be otherwise. Anyone who can be described as “would leave but can’t” is practically impossible to fit into the category of “has left or is leaving.” The original statistic is powerful without making that speculative leap, and the article is making important points all of which stand anyway, but this particular claim about people who are leaving is a mistaken interpretation based on a fact about people who are not. Would probably be better to edit the article and drop that one single sentence to avoid losing those who like their logic to be tight.

  • Ed

    There are many of the other stats that are completely made up as well

  • Paul Riley

    i agree with most of the comments on here as for me ive never been a pastor in a church but i know the lord has a calling on my life but i live by mathew 4:19 where the lord says follow me and i will make you fishers of men church isnt a building mathew 18:20 says wherever two or more are gathered in my name i am in the midst i think to many people put emphasis on being in church as for me i can gather with a couple of friends in the lords name and get more from it then i do going to church also there are alot of people in churches that think because i go to church im saved and that is totally wrong going to church doesnt save you or make you a good person

  • Dan McGowan

    Hi Bo –

    I am Dan McGowan, over 25 years serving as a music and worship pastor in a variety of churches in SoCal and Colorado. In 2009 I realized that if I was going to be heckled anyway, I may as well do so as a comedian (and actor, writer, voice talent, etc).

    So I left “professional ministry” and decided to dramatically change my life and income potential – because THAT was more desirable than continuing to work within a system that, sadly, is just sick on so many levels.

    I have written to books that touch on my adventures in ministry and why we (the church) need to make changes. I believe that one reason not listed above is that human people treat their leadership very poorly – and, in fact, unbiblically. This is the underlying reason why fantastically skilled and called men and women eventually leave “the church” – because it’s just very difficult to face constant criticism from those you are “called” to shepherd.

    I appreciate your list and what you’re doing. Excited to see you are a film maker! We need more believers in the industry! I am the co-writer for an upcoming Christian TV show called “Rock and a Hard Place” – check it out on FB.

    Blessings!!

    Dan McGowan
    http://www.danmcgowan.com

    • Hey Dan, thanks so much for the comment. And for sharing your story. Would love to find out more about the books you’ve written, can you send them my way?

      I think you make a valid point: “human people treat their leadership very poorly – and, in fact, unbiblically.” Would love to hear more of your thoughts on the subject.

  • heryumi

    I have to agree 100% I thought the article would talk about how needy people are with pastors and how they are under appreciated. I am a “regular church-goer” who realizes the unrealistic expectation we place on pastors and ministers. People set moral and ethical (spiritual even) standards on pastors that are inevitably too rigid– not by biblical expectations but personal ones that change and shift depending on the person. In other words, you can’t do right by EVERYONE because it looks different through everyone’s eyes. People want to be able to text, call or email their pastor for spiritual guidance and counseling. They all want prayer. There is a dependency that takes place, one that should really be focused on Jesus. My heart goes out to ministers. We should remember to pray for them, keeping in mind they are just people, like us.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • Kevan Rapley

    A thought has occurred to me…perhaps we are sending people into ‘the ministry’ at too early an age, i.e: straight out of Bible college or seminary.
    I went to Bible college fully expecting to go into full time youth ministry. During my studies I felt God wanted me to serve as a volunteer in a small church that couldn’t afford to hire a youth pastor. After graduation I did just that for many years. Over the last 16 years I’ve served in almost every volunteer position at various times, but mostly with youth. Now, at the age of 40 I’ve been hired as a part time youth pastor in my church, while I continue my career.
    I could easily see myself having become one of the stats mentioned in this article, but at 40 and new to paid ministry, I have experience being a leader, conflict resolution skills and communication skills (gained from 16 years in the workforce) as well as the confidence to say no to church members who try to monopolize my time and who try to get me to follow their set ways. I would have had none of this had I walked into the ministry at 24 years old.
    I would love to hear from some of the pastors who have left the ministry. How would you feel your situation would have been different if you’d entered into ministry in your 40’s instead of out of early 20’s? Would you have had more confidence in defending your position against boards or members? I realize this idea would put many Bible colleges out of business that benefit from recruiting 18 year olds who are ‘out to change the world’, but maybe it’s worth considering? I’d like to know what other people think. Sorry for the long comment 🙂

  • Marlene Ona

    Aloha! I sure understand why some Pastors are leaving their ministries, their churches and congregations and I personally do not judge them. It’s not an easy road to go and answer the call of following Jesus based on Matthew 28:19-20.
    The issue here is the foundation of our faith. If our foundation is based on emotion and on our personal perceptions of service, -driven to do all these ministerial works, then we will surely quit. But if our faith is based on the overwhelming love we have for Jesus, encouraged by the truthfulness of HIS Words and looking beyond the appearances of the present, then we can sing, “Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the days before”.
    We started a pioneering ministry here in Hawaii almost 14 years ago leaving our lucrative business back in the Philippines. Our friends said, we were crazy because we were just like jumping from the airplane without a parachutes. There were no promised salary nor support. We had experienced the extremes of nothingness and walked in the valley of the shadows of death but Jesus has been proving who He was during all these years and times.
    What I learned? He never fails us yet when we He saw our hearts that we are willing to go for broke, to be abased and to be abound. He proved to us that HE alone is our sufficiency, our all and all never once He did abandon us.
    Pastors and Ministers are quitting because they do not understand whom they are serving and they could not understand the context of James 1:.

    • Rhonda

      Is it possible that God can call some to a pastoral role for a season and not their whole life? For some reason many say that if you are a pastor, it’s a life calling and I don’t think it is always the case. Jesus went from place to place during his life (not just one location) and maybe at times He leads people to other things and it may not be that they did not have enough faith or believe God was able to keep them. Sure that may be the case for some, but sometimes it’s best for people to leave the ministry to heal or do something else they feel called to do.

  • Adri

    If you are called by the Lord for full time ministry He will look after you He has promised it in His word. In good time and in bad times. The ministry is not always easy but the Lord is always there to carry one trough. Me and my wife are in the full time ministry for 21 years and the Lord has never failed us yet. He was their when our children died ( Son 19 years old and a daughter 13 years) If you trust Him He is always their. The ministry is not for the faint of heart so if you are not call don’t go.

  • Pastor G

    Thanks for your insight. It seems God has chosen to put His treasure in earthen vessels. Instead of people focusing on the weakness of the earthen vessel, perhaps it would be better to give God the glory that His grace and power is revealed in spite of the weakness of the vessel. After 29 years as a pastor, I can say that almost every attack and criticism has been directed at personality and style, not doctrine or integrity.

  • randy

    I pastored for 15 years and was married for 15 years. My ex was a preachers kid. Due to baggage as a pk I was not aware of and subsequent issues in our church with a member, she had an affair which ended my marriage and pastoral ministry.
    The years following were difficult to say the least. Preacher “friends” treat you differently which compounded the hurt. I’m 20 years down the road and just now getting my life back together.
    I miss the teaching aspect but not the pastoring.

  • Paul Packianathan

    I have been in the ministry for 10 years without any financial returns. I believe that the God who has called me will never let me down. He has always been faithful.

  • Jbrent

    As a veteran of 23 years in the same church, over a decade and a half as the senior pastor, perhaps my story could help. Make no mistake, I raised my family among these sweet people, performed weddings and funerals, my burnout is my own doing–and if I had it to do over, with the knowledge I have now, I’m still not sure I could avoid it.
    My burnout came from several causes I’ve been able to identify:
    *Unrealistic expectations of myself
    *Unrealistic, and most importantly: unspoken expectations from leaders
    *Leaders who gravitate to the path of least resistance at the expense of the staff
    *Consistent, unresolved conflict with lay leaders–good people, business people, people you would trust with your children, but somehow choose decisions they would never accept in their workplace

  • Dennis Rogers

    All of the above might be true, but there is some terrible maths in this article!

    “50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living. 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.”

    No, it really doesn’t. Every one of those 1,700 pastors could be part of the <50% who (a) want to leave; and (b) have the skills to find another job.

    "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."

    How can both of those stats be true? Either 50% retire, or 10% do. Or do you mean that only one out of every ten people who train as ministers finish their career as a minister? It makes no sense!!

    • Mike Stidham

      It means that 10% will actually stay in the ministry long enough to retire. Half of the people who begin their careers in the ministry will flame out after five years, which means quitting, not retiring.

    • Pappa Murf

      Thank you, Dennis. You’ve provided the perfect visual aid for why the “terrible maths” in the article exist.

      Blessings,

      PappaMurf

  • Ronnie

    Read your article that a friend had shared & found it quite interesting. Then spent about half an hour reading the comments, w/ tears in my eyes & a lump in my throat! We all can relate ( except for the one negative comment by someone who obviously isn’t in ministry), we all have lived it or are living it & there a lot I’d like to say that I’ll not take time to now ( not enough time, I’m a full time pastor LOL!)
    Here’s what I do want to say to you & other encourageres to full or part time ministers: straighten your tie, brush your hair, etc., you may not be behind the pulpit but your definitely in ministry! & your needed now more than ever! Keep up the good work! Thanks!!!

    • Great advice, Ronnie. Thanks for joining in on the conversation.

  • Captain

    When I hear stats like this, I often wonder what other models of ministry should be explored since the current version seems to be broken. Could many of these problems be avoided if pastors worked part-time somewhere else and conducted their ministry in the remaining time? This may require more pastors to serve a church (not a bad problem), but it would establish alternate skillsets, have pastors engaged in the ‘real’ world outside of ministry, and would bring in some extra income.

  • Timothy D. Hooper

    I left the ministry a decade ago for many of the reasons stated in this article. I’m sure I would have stayed in the ministry had not the expectation been put on my wife that her job was to sit silently from the sidelines and watch her husband get abused and violated. Then there’s the conflict is caused in our marriage as she couldn’t “let it go” (can’t say that I blame her. If anyone did to her what they did to me, I don’t think I could keep my mouth shut) and wanted me to stand up for myself.
    I’ll tell you this much, if I ever go into ministry again, I’m going to give my wife full permission to stand up for me like I would stand up for her. I don’t think you do a congregation any favors by exemplifying that Christians are to be door mats and scape goats so other’s can excuse their own bad behavior.
    The scripture says to speak the truth in love and in your anger, do not sin. It doesn’t say to shut up and suppress your emotions. Jesus is our example and the role model for every Christian, especially pastors and he definitely didn’t.

    • Thanks for the thoughts, Timothy. I appreciate it. I’d love to hear more of your story. Please feel free to connect with me.

      • Timothy D. Hooper

        My story isn’t that so spectacular. Well, it is to me cuz I’ve had to live it! The biggest issue I am facing now is that I really do want to re-enter full time ministry. My wife, on the other hand, does not. And I can’t blame her. My biggest issue with how the church treated me is not how it impacted my self worth, self respect, self perception and all those other things that have to do with my lack of ability to believe what I knew to be true because God said it over what I knew to be a lie (but believed because pity party’s are so much fun). It’s that I let the church dictate to me what should be my life’s priorities and that my family suffered needlessly. They suffered because I let them.
        Looking forward, things are different. I’ve made it clear to a church that wants me to pastor that my wife takes my 18 yr old daughter to another church because they fulfill a need that listening to her father preach in a group with none of her peers cannot. I listened to mentors who stated that priorities are God, Family, and everything else (including ministry) and in that order.
        When I realized I don’t have to be a pastor but I really recognized my calling to it, I think I lost the fear of “losing my job” because I pissed off the wrong power people. I have a strong desire to serve God and minister to the church but that in the context of being a servant leader, not a slave. I think the role of pastor gets muddied when we thing that serving the church means being it’s slave over providing through word and example what it needs.
        I think a lot of the struggle I had early on in ministry was because I lived in fear of doing just that. I will never let a church, a ladies group, an elder or his wife, or anyone else, for that matter, who thinks that because they contribute to my paycheck that it gives them the right to abuse me or my family.
        I’m sorry that so many pastors end up leaving the ministry and many the church entirely because of the issues this article states. One thing I’ve found that gives me confidence going forward, however, is that I determined I would never do it alone but find a Silas or a Barnabas and a Paul. There’s a reason Jesus didn’t send his disciples out alone…

  • Matt

    “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry, and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Timothy D. Hooper

    Just for anecdotal input, my wife was mad that I was working too much so she kept track of my hours. They were between 60 and 90 per week. Right in the middle of that record keeping, one of the “leaders of the church” had me into his office because he had heard I was considering limiting my hours to be with my family. He was quite upset that his offerings were going to a man who really didn’t want to do his job and that I should really reconsider my work ethic… I was only 25 and, to my shame, I believed him.

    • That’s unfortunate. But it’s true for many of us.

      For me personally, the new lead pastor our church hired told me I was “making too much.” The median income for someone my age, at that time, was $12,000 a year more than what I was making. And I was working between 60-70 hours a week (with no overtime pay), performing multiple jobs, while supporting my wife and our newborn son and living in a one bedroom apartment. Needless to say, that was just one of the many reasons why I left the ministry.

  • Les Ferguson, Jr

    I am an ex-preacher who is ready to return. My previous ministry almost killed me at times. Ultimately, it destroyed my family. Literally. A church member raped my handicapped son. After bonding out of jail, he came back on our 24th wedding anniversary and murdered my wife and son. I have struggled with God and wrestled with my desire to preach again. I have hopes at this time that I will be in full time ministry again. But starting over without any other marketable skill is so very hard. I have not had a moment of financial peace in so very, very long. http://lesfergusonjr.com

    • Les, please connect with me: bo (at) bolane (dot) org. I’d like to hear more of your story. Thanks for joining in on the conversation.

    • Jason Bennett

      God be with you Les.

  • Warren Baldwin

    Interesting and helpful discussion here. I’ve been in ministry for 32 years now and still love it most of the time. But that doesn’t meant there haven’t been periods where I’ve thought of changing – either because of conflict or finances. The biggest and most consistent challenge for me to continue in ministry is just feeling tired sometimes. Not tired as in needing sleep, but tired as in needing a break. Not leaving ministry, but having a 2 or 3 month sabbatical every so many years. Haven’t had one in the 32 so far.

    Another important issue – pastors and ministers will read this article. But, how much can they do about it? How do we get board members, elders, deacons, and other church leaders who make up the church’s leadership teams and support systems to read this?

    • Bo Lane

      Maybe there is something that pastors and leaders can do – get this into the hands of church’s leadership. Maybe turn this into a downloadable file, with the addition of our follow up articles. Thanks for the thoughts, Warren. Great ideas.

    • Such a great question, Warren. How about getting this information into the hands on those in senior leadership? Training, equipping.

  • Jeff

    First of all, my experience is different from other pastors. I worked for 16 years in the corporate world. My degree in business and my experience in the world of finance, sales, and human resources prepared me for what I needed to do here in a ministerial role. I am now in my 10th year of full time ministry. With that said, everything the author proposes is accurate. I don’t know about the statistics, per se, but ministry can be a lonely place. Financially, we trust God to provide for our needs. My children grew up with other students who would fly to LA or Orlando 2 to 3 times per year to go to Disney. My children finally went last year for the first time as my son was preparing to graduate from high school. We saved for many years to make that a reality for them. We have friends who take exotic vacations. Our holidays and summers are usually spent at grandparent’s house. We’re not complaining. I’m just stating the fact that ministry has its challenges. I was once asked, “Who counsels the counselor?” That’s a great question and another reason some ministers are overwhelmed and discouraged. They take it all in and rarely have an outlet (outside of private prayer) for release. The article above is insightful. One recommendation I would have for young prospective ministers is to work outside the church for five to ten years before taking on full time employment at the church. It gives you perspective you will never otherwise have. I know most ministers cannot relate to the struggles that their parishioners face every day because everything they have ever done is within the four walls of a church building. Yes, get your seminary degree. Yes, serve/volunteer in a church fellowship as much as you can. Study the Word of God first. Let Scripture be your guide. And get some practical experience so that your approach/perspective to ministry is more well-rounded. Your congregation will appreciate you for it.

    • Great advice, Jeff. Thank you.

  • J.K.

    None of this surprises me. All of it saddens me. Especially the isolation and discouragement. I once worked at a large church, and I would say that to a degree, the above is reflected in anyone who is in full-time occupational ministry. I constantly felt like I could never — I mean, NEVER — get on top of all that was expected of me and the rest of the staff, including the pastors. SOme of that was internal, some of it was external, but the reality is that our Americanized way of doing church leaves no margin. When there was a downsizing at the church, I basically begged to be one of the people let go. I was that burned out. And I’d only been there 4 years. I can only imagine how people who have been doing it for decades feel. My other observation with regard to the burn-out and high expectations on pastors and church staffs is that we have little tolerance for the messiness and imperfection of ministry. Much of the exhaustion comes because we have these unrealistic demands to have no hiccups in how a program or outreach or worship service flows, for fear it will have a negative impact on our ability to reach non-believers. Ironically, if we were more authentic about the messiness of life and ministry, we would be better equipped to be Christ to one another.

  • Joe Bridger

    Have not left the ministry. But some of my desires to consider calling it quits are inadvertently mentioned here. First I was given bad advice and told not to join up by pastors who were unhappy. That was a strange and bizarre challenge right at the beginning. But we knew what God had called us to do so we moved forward despite the advice to do anything else but the ministry. We were also told we were not qualified. By Pastors. I was told I had the wrong degree. That I was too old. That I was too young. That I didn’t have the right family connections. I was a former foster kid. I would never be a stable person cause I was in foster care and I would make a bad pastor. In fact we were told for many reasons not to join.
    Dishonesty: Then we were treated poorly by out lead pastors & boards financially and work load wise. Sometimes I would honestly tell other pastors in our denomination about my experiences. Well that caused me to be red flagged. No one wanted me cause maybe they were afraid I would tell on them. It was bad, like hiring me and then deciding to not pay me. Hiring me and then telling me there was no salary cause it had been spent on a pet project. Changing my salary after we had agreed I would come for a certain amount. We continue to be involved because quite simply God has not spoken to us to do otherwise. I had several straight forward conversations about this with God. But when I came to this nondenominational church my pastor noticed I had trust issues and perceived I had developed “mechanisms” to deal with the next moment when a church did us wrong. Together we have been working on dismantling some of those things as I learn to trust that this church actually does what it says it will do. It’s been a good experience and has renewed my faith that there are good churches out there with good people serving a great God.
    I just had a conversation with an old friend in his first senior pastorate. He never wanted the job. He was a campus pastor who got voted in as the lead pastor when the lead pastor left. He got in and found out the church was in a huge amount of debt and overspending dramatically. He had to make the tough call of shutting down the multi sites. Half the board quit viewing his responsible behavior as a “lack of vision.” He seemed discouraged and joked about growing a beard and opening up a coffee shop cause he thought he would be able to reach more people that way….it just felt sad cause I think he’s not joking. I could see him leaving too.

  • Pappa Murf

    Like so many who have commented, my ministry story is echoed in the statistics you’ve shared here.

    I observed the fifth anniversary of my departure from full-time pastoring on January 11th of this year. My resignation came after a quarter-century of service in several churches of varying shape and size. The past five years have been some of the longest and most challenging of my life mainly due to the condition of my heart when I finally stepped down.

    Truth be told, I had “quit” the ministry many years before. My heart had long hardened after too many brutal experiences of Christian-on-Christian violence that left me faithless and cold. However, like so many men who enter the ministry at a young age, it was all I knew. I had nothing to fall back on and there aren’t too many employers looking for a resume with theological schooling credits and a pastor’s job history on them. Needless to say, I felt trapped and alone as my faith in God’s provision and protection slowly but surely eroded to dust.

    When I finally did step down, I was a hot mess and it has taken every bit of the last five years to bring me back to Christ. Thanks to God’s patience, mercy, and His leading us to a spiritual M*A*S*H unit to nurse me and my family back to health, we’re on our way back to the ministry fold a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and most importantly a lot more experienced in letting God be God in our lives Monday through Saturday as well as on Sunday.

    You are right, Bo. Everyone has a story and those stories need to be told if the Body of Christ at large is to ever find the healthy balance it desperately needs to function the way Jesus Christ intended. So, thank you for this outlet for ministers to meet and share their experiences. I look forward to spending a lot of time in here…

    PappaMurf

    • Hey thanks so much for sharing your story. And, yes, I agree that our stories need to be told and shared with those in current leadership and those who have already checked out. I appreciate your thoughts and look forward to hearing more in the future.

  • ericoj1

    Hi Bo. Thanks for the article. Being a pastor and having many pastor friends I would say these stats are probably quite accurate. Can I ask where this research is coming from? I like to have sources when I quote things like this.
    Thanks

    • The link to the studies can be found at the bottom of the article. Thanks for the comment!

  • John Majkrzak

    I searched the story and comments for ‘why’ and ‘education’ as an explanation for why. I am not a pastor but believe these kinds of issues are related to having the expectations improperly set. Similar things happen in many career fields. When the educational institutions advertise the hardest you can bet the opportunities are not as rosie as the people in the education business tend to paint. People should expect to apprentice for many years and not leave their full time job until they have that firm and well established position in hand. Pastoring or shoeing horses, I think getting established needs to go much the same.

    • Pappa Murf

      John – I agree with you on your expectations point. Professional ministry is pregnant with unrealistic expectations; on BOTH sides of the pulpit. As to your apprenticeship point, I can’t speak for all of my contemporaries but in my case, I had many years of “apprenticeship” in the form of subordinate ministering positions. Unfortunately, while the many years I spent at the feet of my instructors and mentors were exceptional at teaching me church administration and sermon preparation they were woefully inadequate when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts realities of professional ministry in 21st century America.

      IMO, the “why” of all of this is fairly simple. From pulpit to pew, our churches are populated with self-willed, self-governed, self-centered saints who are trying their best to operate in world that requires consistently sincere humility and selfless submission to the entire God-head if there is to be any measurable amount of success. In other words, there is room for only one King in the Kingdom of God and it isn’t any of us.

      Seminary doesn’t spend too much time on preparing ministers for the realities of ministry; neither does any apprenticeship program I’ve ever experienced. Hermeneutics courses and Old Testament Surveys are all well and good but most theological seminaries are tragically deficient in practical courses that prepare ministers for the realities they will face, IMO. That fact alone has done incalculable damage to truly God-called men and women who walk blindly into a spiritual war-zone armed only with a few years of book-knowledge, blind ambition, and faith in their education/training masquerading as faith in God.

      Education is most definitely the solution. However, this type of education requires instructors who aren’t tenured professors who haven’t seen actual ministry action in decades. Say what you will about the American military, but they at least understand how to train their soldiers for battle…and believe me, ministry is a battlefield unlike any other on Earth. Seminary and ministry apprenticeships, generally speaking, are good for producing administrators and orators. But if you want the Body of Christ to actually become a threat to the gates of Hell again…you need Spirit-filled, Spirit-led warriors who know when to take the battle to the enemy and when to stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord…

      …but I digress. This all just my .50. Do with them what you will.

      PappaMurf

  • SherryKaye Graef Chamblee

    I’ve had the privilege of being a part of churches led by good pastors who were dedicated to God’s work. I know that those who have quit for whatever reason were not necessarily less dedicated, and their quitting causes heartache in their own hearts, and is something they struggled with mightily.

    I do want to say that I see men of God trying to do it all themselves, though. We were recently under one pastor who struggled to trust anyone else with any projects, from teaching a class all the way to installing toilets and painting the church walls. He knew he struggled with this, he tried to overcome it, but I saw how difficult it was for him. He felt obligated to do it all himself, or to have his wife and children do the project. This was not for lack of church members willing and able to help. They simply knew he wouldn’t let them, so eventually people stopped offering.

    I guess I’m just commenting to try to encourage ministers to let their people help them. I think the notion that they must do it all contributes to the load on their shoulders, and if they’d delegate they’d find that load lighter, and friends in the ministry that they didn’t know they could have.

    • Good thoughts. And I’m sure there are many, I’ve known some, who do this very thing. They take on everything themselves. For some, though, they feel the pressure from leadership to take on more and when they decide to take some time off, they are condemned for it. But I do agree with you, some pastors should rely more on their people. Thanks for the comments!

  • justtheMrs.

    As a pastor’s wife, I can definitely relate to a lot of this. It’s hard to move, make new friends, be involved in a church, be aware of the public eye but not ruled by it, have no extra money for even basic “luxuries” like some new t-shirts from the thrift store, trying to visit families living far away on holidays when that’s the busiest work time for pastors, and not allow bitterness in when you see most congregants going on big trips out of the country or spending tons of money on luxury items…
    Living in the midst of my husband’s calling, being a part of his life and yet distanced from it and acutely aware that I’m just tagging along.

    • Thanks for the joining in on the conversation. We need to hear from more wives and families. Would love to hear more of your story. Please connect with me.

  • Yep. I wrote a remarkably similar article over a year ago on this very issue: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nakedpastor/2012/06/why-it-is-so-difficult-for-pastors-to-leave-the-ministry/

    • Awesome! It’s an important topic, indeed.

  • pstrswife

    I know I may sound kooky here, but hear me out? What does the Bible say is the hierarchal 5 fold of ministry? FIRST He gave apostles and prophets…then pastors, teachers and evangelists.. Could it be that pastors leave the ministry because the American church has put pastors as the foremost importance? Where are the apostles and prophets? Where are the visionaries and the encouragers? We’ve replaced them with pastors who are expected to do all five jobs…apostle (vision), prophet (encourager/prayer), preacher (Sunday’s only, right?), teacher and evangelist (Go make disciples!). We’re tired! We can only do so much…
    My husband is a pastor…we’re going to be one of the few in his bible college classes that make it. He had so many of his friends drop out due to the above facts. The number one sub-reason for me? Pastors who have marital issues…the wives who are ‘unsupportive’, but in reality, we’re just tired. Tired of the pastor choosing the church first, even though we counsel and preach don’t. Tired of the people who hurt each other intentionally, all in the name of ‘truth’. And tired physically….children, bone-sucking parishioners, substituting in every department when someone doesn’t show…so the pastor finds a fresh person and has an affair. Now to be very clear, this has never happened to me/us, but we’ve seen it so many times and each time is a reminder to us to guard our marriage foremost! Ministry is hard….the church is the only army that shoots their wounded. Sad.

    • MeanGene155

      There is no such thing as an apostle by definition anymore, nor prophets. A church is a family. You should be doing everything in the church you physically can, just like you do at home. Pastors are only to bring forth the Most HOLY word of God and counsel the flock. Deacons and elders and “members”are to do the rest. Try it. It works. The Bible says so.

      • pstrswife

        when did the bible get rid of prophets and apostles?? What biblical reference is there to that way of thinking? He said it…weight of scripture supports it.
        The church IS a family…but doesn’t every family have a hierarchy? A father..a mother…someone in charge? The Most Holy Word of God set it up for our HELP, not as a curse or hardship!

        • MeanGene155

          In order to be an Apostle, you had to meet Jesus personally and walk with him. Nobody living can claim that. We don’t have prophets to bring forth what God says, as we have the Bible for that and it is complete. People who claim God told them something are generally institutionalized or shunned from society (rightfully so).

          • John

            Really? Is that really the definition of an Apostle? As for your thoughts on the prophet….oh dear oh dear.

            Read Ephesians 4 properly and understand why these gifts are given, we most certainly need them now (maybe more than ever)

      • PastorAndrea

        These excellent definitions come from http://www.theforgottenways.org/apest/
        It helps to see each role’s strength and also why we need all five types of people working together to keep the church and the kingdom work balanced.

        “APOSTLES extend the gospel. As the “sent ones,” they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.

        PROPHETS know God’s will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.

        EVANGELISTS recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God’s redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.

        SHEPHERDS nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God’s flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.

        TEACHERS understand and explain. Communicators of God’s truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God’s will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ’s word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church’s ministry.”

        • MeanGene155

          In order to be an Apostle, you walked with or personally met the God/man Jesus Christ. Nobody living can claim that. Prophets are spoken directly to by the Living God. People who claim that God speaks to them are institutionalized. Besides, who wants to be a prophet with the threat of death if you lied? We don’t need prophets anymore to tell us God’s will. He gave us everything we need in His Word. The rest of your positions in the church still exist today.

    • PastorAndrea

      We absolutely need the fivefold ministry! (though I’m not sure I would call them hierarchical, but rather all are needed to work together and use their gifts and roles). This is an excellent resource for understanding the fivefold ministry http://www.theforgottenways.org/apest/

  • John Perling

    Parishioner, church members, need to realize that taking care of your pastor has more to do with caring about the Gospel of Jesus Christ yourself and being willing to spend time and energy making disciples with him, than anything to do with his compensation package or vacation time. Burnout does not happen because of the number of hours worked, but because no one else in the congregation seems to care about Christ’s mission to make new disciples.

    • Interesting thoughts. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  • preacher

    AS for myself ive pastored and or ministered near 30 years ,,its a drive god puts in you to never give up..i pastored 20 years in a church but i felt something missing ,when i wasnt in the church i was on the streets and back roads and stores and so on,,so i closed the church and started staying on the streets traveling around ,,as far as money i depended on the lord ,i wanted so much to let the gospel be known ,,that i scraped metal raked lawns and so on ,,the lord does provide ,,and i had a wife and 5 children,,we made it through and still do ,,god is grashis i slept on the streets lived in boxes ate out of dumpsters ,,but my wife and kides were home ,my wife supported me in all the adventures ,,and when i asked do u have enough money she would say the lord blessed them every time,,it was the lord that paid me ,not people but the almighty ,,his grace is suffishint for all,,i still work the streets and ride with lots of motorcycle clubs and reach out ,,and as i look back 30 years ,,i wasnt paid to minister and pastor the church ,,it was the lord who always provided for all of us,,but we eventualy owned a nice farm all our vehicles and every thing free and clear ,,and of this day own another farm and a nice house,,but i left with no money just my truck camper and dog ,,and you may ask where did the money come from ,,i can honestly tell you god tested me ,,to see my love for him it wasnt easy but my heart was true ,,he always made ends meet and to this day i cant explain how ,,faith the size of a mustard seed ,,it grew and branched out ,,thank you lord ..dont be discouraged ..god has your back if you have faith

  • Rhonda

    I think that part of the problem is that the church is normally set up in a way that Pastors are seen as the most important part and a lot is put on them to do. What really should happen is what the Bible talks about- the body of Christ where each part contributes their gifts and carry one another’s burdens. Maybe there can be a church with a pastor that doesn’t preach but there are preachers in the church.
    Also, in America we are taught to be more individualistic rather than communal so we keep our problems to ourselves for fear of appearing “weak”. Many pastors have issues and no where to share them where they feel safe to speak. Churches need to see their church as “our church” rather than “His or her church (pastors)”. This is a generalization- not saying that all churches are like this. Also finance is an issue. Many people don’t tithe and thus puts pressure on the pastor to figure out how to pay the bills. We are all connected and what some do can affect the church as a whole. My husband and I are previous pastors and I can relate to this article.

    • Rhonda

      This is Rhonda- I also wanted to add that society plays a role in this too. People work more hours than in the past and many jobs require more time and energy from people in order to get the pay they need to stay afloat. I think that this contributes to church members not always having as much time as they would want to help out in the church or give more time to the church, which in turn would help support the pastor.

  • Daniel

    I reckon most of the problem is that all this focus is given to pastors, and not the rest of the five fold ministry gifts. Apostles, Evangelists, Teachers and Prophets.
    If you are one of the others, and forced to be a pastor, you’ll hate waking up every morning.
    I don’t believe Pastors skill set is designed to lead a church. A pastor [Shepherd] is meant to look after the flock, make sure the people are surviving, and sort out problems. They are not designed to delegate programs and arrange leadership structures, to worry about management details.
    Though some can do it, essentially it is not part of the role of a pastor. I’d expect it would be more of the role of an Apostle, in the building of the church, with the help of the prophet.
    When the church decides to start giving positions to the rest of the five fold ministry gifts, and labelled as such, then we may have a chance to reduce the burn out rate.

  • Weak and Worn Down Minister

    My story is exactly like most. I worked somewhere between 40-55 hours in a week with all the mentoring I have done preparing, and planning for the ministry. I put my life into the work and I am still gossiped about and treated like my job wasn’t that important. I served at 2 churches and neither of them had good leaders. I was expected to lead praise and worship and be a youth pastor and help out in the children’s ministry for less than minimum wage. No matter how good I had done if there was a mistake made *not even always a mistake* but a parent didn’t like something, a elder or deacon didn’t agree with something, or the pastor was upset then all the fault was on me. On top of that I did this for below minimum wage. My wife was gossiped about and we both didn’t even want to ever go to our own “home church”. I loved the youth and I loved preaching but all of the stresses of the “godly people” including the pastor, was to much to handle. I also was doing all of this for VERY little pay. Not to mention I was lied to on a contract that I signed.

    Now I am in the Navy and trying to be a Chaplain. I hope to be able to actually support my family and get my master’s degree. I will never work at a small church again after the way I have been treated. I have had a secular job and I have much less stress by FAR! I will always be a minister, and I will eventually go back at the ministry. But it’s sad how much work minister’s put into our jobs and how little people actually care due to not doing it the way the church had always done it. I’m done ranting now. I just found it crazy that there was that many in the stats.

  • Chelsea Parrott

    I am very sorry to hear this….I think that pastors would feel such a weight lifted off if people didn’t expect them to be their perfect super hero.. I also hope that this might help them feel as if they are not adequate….SO THAT God can meet their situation of inadequacy…..let me share something with you…I hope to start a discipleship program ish thingy at my school….but I don’t feel adequate…I don’t feel as if I am perfect enough or experienced enough to qualify as a leader…..but God simply said to me…”You don’t have to be….because I am here to help you..and that is what makes you qualified” and maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about here…because I’m only 18 and I haven’t been involved in a lot of these sort of issues to have an opinion…..but I hope that this helps someone out there 😀 God bless <3

  • Rev Rudy

    My wife and I are both ordained ministers. My wife had a massive heart attack and we resigned our church, now retired and moved into the city where all the doctors my wife sees are. I have for many years have had a burden for those who have been hurt in ministry so much that they just quit! We have gone through so much ourselves in 33 years of “formal” ministry. Our son, now 18 has been “wounded” by church people that he doesn’t want to go the church anymore. We are still involved as workers in the church we are part of now. We will continue to be involved until we can’t do anything or die! May the Lord bless you ministers and your families both current, retired or have quit! We do love you all.

  • Rick Ratzlaff

    I’ve read a lot of the comments, not all, and it’s a sad commentary on the “state of the union”. However I think if one was to do a quick survey of the OT, things were not much different.

    The OT is a saga of people who wouldn’t follow their GOD CALLED leaders and leaders who weren’t GOD CALLED. The end result was the same, and a child was named 21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” or maybe the Church today.
    I’m not a pastor, but I was disobedient in that call, so shepherding has been my heart for 60+ yrs. I am very cognisant of the problems mentioned above so I have some comments on how we got here. Things I have seen repeated all too often!!!
    Not in any specific order:
    Our Bible School institutions and the environment they create, have all TO often motivated men to think they were called when they were not. My observation/guess is that 70 – 80% of men who come from schools into pastoral roles were never “called”. That creates a snowball effect whereby pastors can’t do what God ordained them to be, and they have to become square pegs in round holes. Right out side of the will of God. Coupled then with a sense that they need to become administrators, Bible institutions have taught the same men to become managers instead of GOD DESIGNED SHEPHERDS. That exasperates a population of men who abdicate their God Called roles as ELDERS, to BE MEN of the WORD, and lead with their partner male UNDERSHEPHERD.
    So you find a lot of “pastors” doing a lot of good things but not the right things.
    It bothers me when I hear men say that they were GOD CALLED, but have left their “CALLING”, or are depressed at their congregation, or thinking of leaving.
    I think we’d all agree that if GOD CALLES, he then equips and empowers. So something isn’t computing, and maybe the pastor needs to really examine who is he serving, was he really called or was his heart deceitful, who is his audience, why does he have expectations, results aren’t his to measure, all he has to do is be obedient. So find out what will get things back on track and repent if need be!
    And men, step up to the plate, if you get into the WORD you’ll find you aren’t responsible to see your career or business succeed. God decides who he will bless and how much. So get your priorities right. Discernment/wisdom only comes through a steady passionate diet of the Manufactures Operating Manual. Then be obedient to God’s call to lead your family and church.
    And Congregation find out what really is the role of God’s Elders, their qualifications and DON’T put men in roles who are not CALLED into Eldership. If that’s only a pastor (which I hope he is) and one other man, so be it. Don’t fill the roster because the constitution says you must.
    That brings me to the point that too many of our churches are organizations not organisms. The large majority of churches are social clubs, and fall far short of the model in the book of ACTS.
    It’s not rocket science, at any aspect of the church, the manual is clear READ IT!

    • Don Ferren

      You said, a lot that hit the nail on the head. To hear a pastor, whether ex or not, say they did not make enough money, saddens me and makes me think they forgot when Jesus asked that man to drop his possessions of this world and follow him, and the man could not give it up. He did not follow his calling. Those that do hear God’s calling should put a bunch of thought into this chapter of Christ’s teachings.

  • Gordon Allan Schuk

    I have been associated with a number of pastors down through the years, and have made observation of others, but this does not make me an expert, nor do I have all the answers, but have noticed a few mistakes that pastors make, such as getting into the ministry, as it is called, too soon. Before Jesus came, and probably after, those that entered the priesthood had to learn a trade first. (such as Paul, the apostle) Another mistake, is taking on too much responsibility, The first, is allowing the congregation to push them into it, the second is that they don’t trust the congregation to do anything, especially in a ministerial role. Moses was a good example. I could go on, but think that I will leave it for now. Pastors are in general, a hardworking lot, and anyone thinking that they want in, because it looks easy, is in for a rough ride.

  • Ladyh

    Thank God someone posted this. 🙁 it hurts to see Pastors leaving the ministry. As members of the church, we are also accountable to our Pastors, they gve their lives fully to their ministry, our job as believers is to finish ‘God’s great commission” as A TEAM: Pastors – frontLiners, Members – Provider to the Pastors, since we all know they are focused on leading lives to Christ, as members, we provide their needs (God provides their needs though us, the members).** Its a two-way responsibility, working as team, lets treat all our Pastors as leaders, our way of honoring God is through them, encouraging them through giving (its our part, for the ministry), Let the Pastors themselves be accountable as FrontLiners, and we as members, let us be accountable as Providers. In heaven God will judge us according to our personal labors – Ladyh, average Member of Only Jesus Baptist Mission from Philippines

  • DC

    God called myself into the ministry in 2006… I listened and quit my job and went to bible college full time… two and a half semesters later I was contacted my a church committee who was looking for Pastor… I went for the interview, laid everything out on the table, no experience, still in bible college, the mental illness I live with every day, I told them everything… this interview was two hours long… I was told that they were interviewing three other experienced pastors and they would get would get back to me… I left that interview with a new experience and never believed I would get picked… I was contacted again a couple weeks later and was told that they had finished their interviews, they had given it much prayer and God had told all four of them that I was the one to go there to pastor… Well believe me I was in shock and awe at the same time… I went there and preached and got voted in with one vote against me, I was offered the job and I excepted… Now let me back up a little, during the interview they had shared with me their needs and wants for more programs, they wanted someone ambition and a dream… They also wanted a kids program, seniors program, youth program and most of all they wanted growth, all to be done according to Gods will…
    I sold my house, packed up my family and moved them from a life they had only known to a little country church four hours away… At the time I lived in the city and use to many different cultures and faiths… I was only there a month and realized I had made a big mistake… At that time I was locked in, I could not quit and move my family back to were we had come from because we had nothing to go back to… I had no other job either, I had to support my family…
    But, I gave it my all, I trusted God would take care of things and that I would eventually fit the profile they wanted… Boy was I wrong… this church had a couple who had been there for 40 years and this couple controlled the church… I had learned that there were many pastors there before me who had experienced many difficulties… I felt like I had ran into a brick wall… Chance was not wanted… This couple also controlled the money within this church… the husband was the treasurer and the wife was the accountant… I had learned that all the funds, church building, church land, investments was all in the personal name of the treasurer… This treasure had sole signing authority at the bank and wrote checks out to whom ever he pleased at his own will… there was thousands of dollars unaccounted for… The finances of this church as a mess… I reported this to my superiors and was informed that I was the pastor so I had to fix this problem, but they would guide me from the sidelines… My superiors tried very hard to help me but the controllers fought me with all their might… I got crushed… |i had no experience and no fellow pastors to help me.. I was in a world all alone… I did make one close friend, but that was also a problem because he was a Muslim, some people in the church did not want me having a friendship with him because of what he was…
    I was torn to shreds… I gave those people my all and during the whole ordeal my family suffered… I was pushed, deceived, lied to, stabbed in the back, all by these controllers and their friends… But I would not quit, I tried my best to stand my ground and do my job dispute how I felt… It took 14 months to straighten out the financial mess of this church and at that time my superiors then asked me to resign… My superiors had seen the strain that was placed upon myself and my family… But, I still would not quit, I had nothing there to do if I had quit… I was humiliated and hurt beyond what any words can explain… By the 15th month I was offered a severance package to resign, a good package, a package which I excepted…
    I resigned and then learned that the package that was offered to me had changed, I never received it… I had no job, no friends, no support… It was like i fell of the end of the world… I could not support my family and could not find a job in the area…
    I fell into a deep depression, my family fell apart and I ended up with nothing only my clothes and my old rusty car… my life and the life on my innocent children was ruined, ruined for ever… And after all that my dad passed away…At this time I am divorced and out of the ministry…
    I lost all that ever meant anything to me… All I did was answer Gods call and trust the church…
    today three years later I am part if a lovely church family, I attend every Sunday, I am back in bible college to finish what I began seven years ago… I still have much anger and unforgiven issues and lots of hurt to deal with… But, I am doing well… i am in counseling for everything I have to deal with…
    That is my sad story…

    • John Myer

      Sounds just like the “brethren” I have known!

      The most vitriolic condemnation that Jesus ever uttered was against the “religious” leaders of His day. There is little doubt in my mind that the same would be true if He were to address the “religious” leaders of today!

      I truly am so very sorry for the loss in your life in the name of the Lord and His service.

      PS I too am an ex-pastor of 20 years of service and have no desire nor intention of ever being at the “mercy” of such “brethren” EVER again!

    • Mao Gung

      DC you are now and forever on my prayer list brother. We both know God can heal you and your kids and that’s what I will be praying for you. I believe He has started that process.

    • Pappa Murf

      My brother – I feel your pain in every way and you have my deepest, most fervent prayers. I understand the anger and unforgiveness issues; battled with my own for far, far too long.

      I know there are few words that can do much more than offer some empathy and maybe some encouragement but I pray you continue on your journey with God and find the life-changing peace and transforming power of a God who has been in the business of redemption for millennia; especially for his kids. (Psalm 103:4)

      No matter what circumstances life produces…the same God that transformed a slave and convict into an Egyptian ruler, a shepherd-boy into a king, and a murderer of Christians into a world-changing Apostle is more than able to bring you into His pre-ordained destiny for your life.

      • Margie Stepro

        Having been a church going Christian for most of my life, sorry to say I have seen people in churches who think because they have been in that church for decades they have the right to rule. The church needs to return to the bottom line, which is: love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and love each other. Next ask for the direction of the Holy Spirt
        and be willing to work together.

    • Metus F. Rivers III

      Reading your story and many others from this site has basically confirmed that Frank Viola’s vision relvealed to him in the scriptures of how Christ’s Church is supposed to be is clearly not the the way man has been doing it for centuries. If your a Christian and your wondering what I’m talking about please read Franks book titled Reimagining Church. Just like our Lord says “The truth shall set you free” I believe our Lord has revealed to Frank what is wrong with church in our world today! Every believer should read this book because it holds the key to what real church is supposed be and the answer has been right there in Gods Word the whole time! Thank you Lord Jesus for using frank to point us back in the original direction you intended for your church! I welcome any feedback from anyone please feel to contact me at mfrivers2009@knights.ucf.edu

    • nm

      Thanks for being real. I believe your entire story. I left pastoral ministry after 22 years. I was emotionally destroyed and betrayed by my friends who were fooled by wolf. Satan does come to kill, steal, and destroy – and he’s using Christians to do it.
      The American church needs to repent of it’s ungodliness: criticism, selfishness, character assassinations, egotism, church politics, back biting and the like.
      DC, I offer no polly-anna-happy words. I know you are lonely and feel abandoned, and probably feel like a failure.

      Everything that happened to you was not of God – it was the murderous vomit from the accuser of the brethren. Yet, even when we know this, we’ll never be the same because we live with shell shock.
      I am coping by focusing on what really matters to me and appreciate what God has given me.

    • bosteen

      Very sorry to hear that. I am a full time evangelist and facing very difficult setbacks,since have been in ministry. in fact today as i am writing my prayer is to quit the ministry or do just part time. It is just hard.

    • Paul Zondo

      Something needs to be done about all this pastoral pain.

  • Bob Villa

    I had been “out of the ministry” for over ten years. When I first left the full-time pastorate, I did what I could to pay the bills. Worked security for several different teams, part-time mentor at a public school, truancy officer, etc. Fortunately, I was a good enough musician to begin scheduling gigs at restaurants, resorts, bars, saloons, lounges, casinos, etc. enough to make a decent living. My second wife (one of the reasons I left full-time ministry initially) felt that we were performing a great evangelistic ministry by reaching out to and praying with the staff, management, owners and regulars at the different venues we played. I agree that it was a worthy ministry, and we were making an impact on those people, but, I never felt like I fit in that roll.
    I’m one who believes that God selects individuals to fill the different offices (gifts) revealed in Ephesians 4 – apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. In my heart, I was glad to be reaching the lost in these venues, but at the same time I felt displaced because I had been called to fill the office of pastor. Paul told Timothy, a pastor, to do the work of an evangelist. That’s what I was doing, but I always felt that Timothy channeled his evangelistic work through the office of pastoral ministry. Most of Paul’s writings to Timothy describe and encourage the work of a pastor. It’s difficult for me to fully explain how I felt at this point; suffice it to say that I felt like I was wearing the wrong hat.
    On the first Sunday of 2014, I started a new work on my reservation (I’m a member of the Gila River Indian Community in southern Arizona) and I’m happy with that. Of course, it’s a small beginning, but I feel like it’s where I need to be. I know that we can minister in the marketplace, and I still do that as often as I can. I still schedule occasional gigs at public venues and use that opportunity to shine the light of Jesus’ love. But I don’t believe that we place too much emphasis on “the ministry” by encouraging those who are called to a particular office to fill that office. These are ministry gifts given by Jesus Himself, and we are most productive when we operate within those parameters.
    Pray for us, and visit our sites at http://www.bwagf.com and http://www.facebook.com/BWAGF. Blessings.

  • Henry

    Very interesting article. Pleas share the source of you statistics. Thanks.

    • Henry, you can find the link to the study at the end of the article. Thanks!

  • helloworldzj

    Great article on the overwhelming challenges of the pastorate, but could we as a Christian people stop imitating others who use clickbait titles? The facts shocked no one.

    • Pappa Murf

      Howdy Helloworldzj!

      I can’t speak for anyone else but I can confess a bit of shock the first time I read some of these statistics. I appreciate you taking the mantle of spokesman for everyone who will read this article, but I think you’ll find this is the last place on the information superhighway that needs your services.

      May your day be filled with more positivity than negativity today.

      PappaMurf

  • Skeeter McClusky

    To a large degree, our churches are a reflection of our culture, we come to be entertained, to hear a nice motivational message and to leave feeling good, not challenged, and it all must be delivered exactly the way we want it: the American Way.
    I even had an ex-drug addict-alcoholic- wife abuser, who I had led to the Lord, come to me as the ‘head of a committee,’ angry as a hornet because drunks, druggies, homeless and prostitutes began to show up for our services and I encouraged them to stay. When I wouldn’t change my mind on ‘the least of these,’he and the ‘committee’ left the church. This was just the tip of the iceberg BUT GOD continued to do mighty things.
    Now, I am looking to open an ‘outreach’ center because it has none of the pre-conceived notions of ‘what’ church is. I can minister the gospel without being held to a false and worldly standard. Jesus is still on the throne! Mt 25

    • Thanks for the comment, Skeeter. PS, I dig your name.

  • Pingback: Finding Rest In His Love | The God Journey()

  • macgaz

    I agree with much of what’s already been written (especially PJS comments). I remember responding on the last night of youth camp as being one of those “called into ministry.” I remember the kids who would become doctors, engineers and teachers had to sit and watch as us “called ones” got prayed over by the speaker.

    Unfortunately neither the canned youth group curriculum or a seminary education would adequately prepare me for the ministry. And after a painful divorce, I now find myself on the outside of full-time occupational ministry and experiencing more opportunity to interact with non-believers than I ever had as a church-staffer. I’m grateful that my calling isn’t defined by the signature on my paycheck.

  • Scroll through these. They keep me perspective grounded as I look to a possible future as a priest. http://everydayimpastoring.tumblr.com/

  • Guest

    great article, thank you

    • Thank you. And thanks for reading!

  • Henry Gomez

    I am a volunteer pastor and so this really spoke to me. I have suffered great burnout, but I am still pastoring. I had to learn where to get the food! Firstly, I believe new ministers are ill trained. They should be told don’t expect encouragement, gratitude etc. from the congregation, when it comes it is nice but our food strength and nourishment is one stop shopping…Jesus Christ. It is the only way I have survived. New ministers should be taught how to go to the well for the living water every day because that is the only way to survive. Pastors also have targets on their back. The enemy wants to stop those who can make a difference. Leadership is both wonderful and dreadful.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Henry. I also appreciate that you volunteer as a pastor. That’s an interesting concept that we don’t see very often. Thanks for your service to the Lord and your encouragement to those who have left or are planning to leave the ministry. We need as much encouragement as our pastor-friends will give us. Blessings to you, friend.

      • Henry Gomez

        Hi Bo, Appreciate your encouragement! I shared your excellent article on our page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pharisees-Anonymous/118664414841088 I have been involved in a writing project, book is soon to be published. It addresses many issues and problems facing the church today. The church on a whole, in my opinion, has failed to equip its leaders and its congregations because it has failed to really teach us how to experience God on a daily basis. We are starving for that. I had to go through burnout but thankfully I am relying much much more on God. In my case, God had to wean me off many of the attractions of leadership, self glorification in my case. I was hooked on the slap on the back and hearing “great message!” God had to show me that was all vanity and that experiencing Him on a daily basis would satisfy any hunger and quench any thirst I had. The church has to teach everyone how to hear directly from God. Too often it positions itself as a middle man, more interested in counting heads than truly helping its members experience the truth that sets us free. To often churches are about control and territory while it should be feeding God’s sheep. In our church we have encouraged members to go to other churches, if it was advantageous to them. What I mean to say is that we had one member whose wife was attending another congregation and we encouraged the husband to join his wife for their good over the interests of our church. Churches have to be selfless and teach others to learn from God directly. Hebrews 8:11 NIV
        No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

        John 6:45 NIV
        It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

        Today, many churches are more like theaters, and businesses who have to crack a nut every month, congregants have become customers. As a volunteer pastor I can tell any member what I believe God wants me to tell them, gently, because we don’t have to compromise or worry that one less pew will be filled. No one in our church gets a salary. It has been quite liberating. All of our collection goes to benevolence or rent.

        I would enjoy staying in touch my email is henrygomez@mac.com

  • Bighoss

    The typical “pastorate” in protestant churches is unscriptural. A “pastor” in the New Testament is one of a plurality of men who lead a congregation. The CEO-type “pastor” in most protestant churches is usurping many of the duties of the eldership that are described in the New Testament. Far too few churches that purport to follow the Bible actually follow the New Testament scriptures with regard to church governance. The teaching in the books of Titus 1 and I Timothy 3 is clear and unambiguous on this subject. A church, if it is to be patterned after the churches of the First Century, is to have elders [I Timothy uses “bishops”(KJV) or “overseers” (NIV),but the office is clearly the same]. A recent book on this subject, “The Titus Mandate,” makes a powerful argument for the return to scriptural church governance and discusses and describes the dangers of deviating from the Biblical plan.

    One of the reasons why so many “pastors” are so overworked is because they are stretching to perform work that the scriptures assign to elders.

    http://www.amazon.com/Titus-Mandate-Ted-Bigelow/dp/1453831274

  • still ministering

    good points and important to note. ministry is hard. God is faithful and somehow the work gets done. I consider myself a survivor, however, have seen just as many pastors who shouldn’t be in ministry–for oh so many reasons. and pastor-bosses have done much to make me an ex-pastor, or what I call a recovering pastor. yet still I serve.
    this calling attracts narcissists and people pleasers and even liars and thieves, folks working out their ‘stuff.’ we recently retired a guy as graciously as possibly and he chewed up everyone in the process. we now have ‘ex-believers’ because of his emotional outbursts and passive aggressive punishment. looking forward to hearing about how we can hold one another accountable, encourage health, and grow people in faith such that the God we serve is revealed and glorified.

  • Riley

    The ancient Jewish tradition recommended that a young man learn a skilled trade before going off to higher education. This might be a good thing to implement.

  • Riley

    The phenomenon that many pastors leave the ministry will always be there. But there are a few things that would help lower the rate. More rigorous mentoring, preparation and examination prior to ordination and installation as a pastor would help weed out some of those who have no business pursuing the ministry and better prepare those who are. And higher pay and moral support from the congregations would help in recruiting and retaining qualified and able candidates for pastoral work. Let’s all make an effort to brighten the corner where we are to these ends.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Riley. Thanks for the comment. I also believe that, not only schools and seminaries, but denominations should put a bigger investment in pastor care and coming alongside those who have left the ministry.

      • Riley

        Yes, exactly. The responsibility for recruiting, mentoring, preparing, and examining lies with the churches. Seminaries are just one tool in their hands.

        • So, what is something we can do about that?

          • Riley

            Be encouraging and looking out for bright, godly candidates in our congregations, and ask them to consider the gospel ministry. Encourage parents in the church to recommend it to their sons. Intentionally mentor those in seminary or preparing for it, who are from our churches. If they are going to be “sent away” for seminary, connect them with a sound church and potential mentor at that location. Discuss what they are learning and recommend books. Let them be a part of the life of the church and see our family life while they are preparing for ministry. When it comes to examination before committees, councils, and presbyteries, be tough. Ask hard questions and require right answers. Take the time needed to thoroughly examine each candidate in all pertinent subjects, measured in hours not in minutes, and let all representatives from the whole regional conference, council or presbytery take part.

  • ProclaimingGodsTruth

    I think many have lost the original calling of the church found in the Book of Acts. Programs, conferences, schools, excess committee meetings, oversight of all programs, etc. Some have taken on too much and therefore some are in a jam. Elders and deacons are there to help lift the load. Maybe there is too much load; let’s get back to what the ministry is supposed to be about – winning souls.

    • Thanks for the comment. There are many who find themselves on boths side of this argument. As for the mission of ExPastors.com, we’re not here to make the call whether the church is functioning as it should – because there are just too many ways to look at it – we’re here to minister to those who are hurting and broken and whose families have been beaten down. That’s our mission. Thanks again for joining in on the conversation.

  • Walt

    I suppose as a pastor it depends who you are working for. Every Christian has a ministry and is a minster in some form. I can do all things through Jesus who strengthens me.

  • DeWayne

    Here’s you a real statistic. The most unread word of the Webster Dictionary is “Misoneism”.

    Let me first tell you about me. I’ve gone from homeless to a leader in Fortune 500s. I’ve gone from living a life in the Adult Industry, spit on by Christians and told how hot I was going to burn in hell, to giving my life to Christ and then running from His call for over 10 years while persecuted harsh by the church and the world. At one time I thought I could not be saved and searched for a year and a half before God gave my wife and I a revelation you would not believe if I told you. And then one man found us and showed us how to become Christians. I wish I could share with you the whole story, but its not for now.

    God has done amazing healing in my life, my wife and three kids. And I’m just now in my second year in Bible College, realizing how unconnected Pastors are and how little qualified they are to lead any organization. I am very luck to be connected to the most amazing Bible School that is building an accountability network for me. But I did my research and stayed clear from man made religion schools and churches. Lots of problems out there.

    But God brought me low, so low most would die. I have to say that I have gone through everything to seek God and He didn’t make it easy. I lost most of my friends to death. I can’t tell you how much I have struggled financially when we could have just went back to the industry. It has been anything but easy to be a Christian in today’s church that does not want a relationship with you. No one wants to mentor or be a true friend. No one wants to pray with you and care about you. And it all started with greedy busy pastors. That is the harsh truth. Not to be mean.

    Can I say this without you thinking I’m bitter? If you are on this complaining about hours, money and organizations you make me really sad. Why? Because God has a divine plan for you and you are completely missing it and not hearing his voice. You are so far off and full of excuses and He is right there with you now. Allow Him to bring you and your family low.

    See you should be seeking Him by dwelling in the word and prayer. Let Him teach you trust. You are not weak, you are not controlled by man or organization. You are not a pawn, machine, etc. You are empowered by God. But you appear to live in fear and think some how the only job in ministry is in an organization. Maybe God wants you to hold church in your home. But you will never know until you learn intimacy with Him (FOR REAL). You might start by reading some of Andrew Murray’s books, He has some of the most amazing insight on prayer and intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

    I want to tell you what I find wrong with most all churches today. I studied 100s of Pastors last year. In those 100s I only found 1 that truly shepherd the flock about 800 miles east of me. Even those that moved away he and his wife would travel to them to make sure they were connected and learning. I followed him on FB and he is constantly shepherding and his church now gets it and they are all seeking intimacy and show fruit. Let me ask you, do you think I can see your fruit in this site? Are you really patiently waiting on God?

    As I’ve said I have ran Fortune 500s. If you think 75 hours a week is enough to run a church, you are sadly mistaken. My businesses I had to put in over 80 hours a week. Right now my family is my ministry. So 8-5 full time job, come home eat dinner spend time with family and then study till 2AM. If you could spend 3 days with me, you would be blown away that by the hour when I’m dealing with something, I turn to the lessons and there is God giving the solution in black and white.

    I have also served in the military as an Air Traffic Controller. IN ATC school there were 300 of us. I was the only one with a GED. The rest had all kinds of degrees. The first day in school I went to the cafeteria to eat. The men surrounded me and said what makes you think your going to make it. I learned real quick not to let people like that surround me. At the end of school only 3 of us graduated. I have now learned it was part of a lesson God would use to help me learn how to multi-task, manage people and most of all – never give up.

    Why am I saying all this. If you want to be a leader in anything, you got to not only trust God, but you got to stop hanging around the pity party that evil wants you to second guess the power God has empowered you with. You can’t second guess God or the ability He has in you. You are an amazing creation and you need to start glorifying God again.

    This article makes me sad, because you don’t truly trust God and understand what He has for you. It is not about the money, the paycheck, blaming an organization that wronged you.
    Really think about that because the article is raising awareness for screw tape letters in your ear when you really need to be seeking God’s voice in your life.

    I’m really not meaning to come down hard on this site, but here is the blunt truth I would tell anyone I counsel in business. Man up! or let God man you up! Complaining is doubting and that is exactly what the enemy wants for you. Let God work through you and if you end up homeless remember our ONLY purpose is to glorify Him! Just keep pressing into an intimate relationship with Him. He loves you, He wants to use you, but you got to get your eyes off man. And when you are finally giving the opportunity again. Really, really shepherd and don’t become part of the 99% of Pastors who say they don’t have time and here is a program or here is someone else that can disciple you. Take on what God gives you and trust Him. But realize it may cost your life and struggles to serve God. But we never give up, we are doing this to glorify Him.

    btw, Misoneism means, hatred of change or innovation

    • DeWayne, I’m truly grateful you took the time to write out your response. I can tell you are passionate about this and I appreciate that. Because I’m passionate about it too.

      I read through countless comments from men and women who are hurting. They’ve reached out asking for help. They’re desperate for God to do a work in the churches they lead, in the lives of those who attend, to be used as God called them. And it hurts me to see that most of them truly want something deeper, better for their churches and yet they have been brought down and cast into the fire by the ones they are desperately trying to reach.

      If you haven’t experienced that type of heartache, which I truly hope you never have to as a pastor, then you simply can’t know just how deep the pain goes. It’s easy to say “just get over it” or “man up” but it’s not that easy, friend. Sure, it’s easy to say. It’s a whole other thing to do. It’s a process for many. And, for some, a process that can take many years of God working His restoration in their lives.

      Regardless of your thoughts toward this site and our mission, our main desire is to encourage those who’ve been discouraged, hurt, broken, or beat up. There are countless men and women who are inches away of walking away from their faith because they’ve been hurt so deep. But here’s the thing: we’re not giving up. We believe in God’s restorative power. We just need some help – from you, our friends, our families, other pastors and leaders – to help us get back up onto our feet before we can push forward.

      Blessings to you, DeWayne. And blessings to the countless individuals who are struggling to find their way through all this mess. We are here for you. And, most importantly, God’s not through with you yet.

      • Jennifer Guenther Mascarenas

        I didn’t read his article as being insensitive to peoples heart ache. He himself knows what heartache is. I read it as an answer to their dilemma if just taken that way.

    • Jennifer Guenther Mascarenas

      Truth Right There!!! Thank you for sharing.

  • kktex12

    You left out a couple of things. A lot of those who left may not have been called to be a pastor/shepherd of the flock. There are so many who think the job is easy money and they really won’t have to do any real work. Also, there are those who should be preachers/evangelists and not pastors. You can find preachers, you can find pastors, but to find both in one man serving God there are few and far between. I have met 4 in my 62 years.

    • Interesting though. I actually wrote an article a while ago: http://www.expastors.com/did-god-call-me-or-did-i-get-it-wrong/

      I talk about my struggle with “calling” and how I question whether or not I was ever called to the ministry. I’d love for you to check it out and leave a comment with your thoughts. Blessings and thanks for the comment.

    • Tony Bolen

      kktex12- I’d be interested to see how you, personally, would consider a pastor “Called” or not. Is it is popularity/personality/looks/gift with words/management skills/ability to pack butts in the pews/bring in money, etc.? Granted there are men who fit in the categories you lay out above, but my own experience shows the majority of the problem today lies with congregation members who really have no idea what a pastor is Called to do. The wolves in sheep’s clothing like Joel Osteen only add to the confusion and make matters worse…can you imagine how long John the Baptist would last in a modern church? I recommend 1 Timothy as a great place to find a job description for God’s pastors.

  • Dave Wendt

    I would like to see some references to the numbers and percentages being thrown out in this article. Where did they come from? Thin air? That’s what it seems like. I’m not denying that they might be accurate, but let’s name the sources of the stats, please.

    • Dave, thanks for your comment. They were posted at the bottom of the article when it was published 5 days ago. The studies were done by the Schaeffer Institute. See above. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  • Tony Bolen

    Thank you for doing this- I am still “licking the wounds” from my time in the Ministry. I haven’t read your “jobs for x-pastors” yet, but I think it is imperative for potential candidates to know that having a theological degree on your resume will automatically disqualify you from many jobs that would seem an obviously good fit for someone who is trained as are we. For example, here in SE Colorado, I have applied numerous times to be a drug/alcohol addiction counselor, only to be rejected because anything “secular” is not welcomed in the non-secular counseling world. A retired pastor friend of mine who was an important CEO in a fairly large Midwestern firm before his time in the Ministry cannot even get a call for an interview for far lesser positions. Religious discrimination? Yup- alive and well, however, unlike racial/sexual orientation discrimination, there is absolutely no recourse. If you think you want to serve the Lord…you’d better count ALL the cost/potential costs.

    • Interesting thought. Tony, I’d suggest reading the article: How Do I Feed My Family Now that I’m Not a Pastor? A Guide to Jobs for ExPastors. It hits on this loosely. I think more the issue is that there really are jobs out there and if we work harder on maximizing our resumes, we can get good jobs outside of ministry. Sure, the reality is there that some will not hire based solely on past religious experience. But there are other jobs, in good thriving communities that are looking for skilled individuals. Who better than candidates who have experience working with people, leading staff and volunteer teams, and instructing others. The jobs are out there. They may just take a little digging to find. Thanks for joining in the convo, Tony.

      • Tony Bolen

        Gotcha Bo & Thanks. Just keep in mind, (at least in my former denomination), the tendency is to send new pastors to tiny congregations in the middle of no where. When the hammer drops, and you suddenly find yourself out on the street, oftentimes those “thriving communities” are hundreds of miles and thousands of dollars away. I think the seminaries need to take off the happy-face-used-car-dealership approach to recruiting, and bring home the reality that joining the ranks of Servants of the Word puts a huge crosshair on you. One more thing gentlemen: be sure and keep up your pre-pastorship certifications!!! 😉

        • I couldn’t agree more. Denominations and bible colleges need to talk more about the reality of ministry, serving in smaller communities and churches, etc. That’s a real and true scenario.

          And I feel your pain. It’s not easy making a move or transition and for some, financially, it’s not even possible. I’d like to dig into some research to see if there isn’t a group or organization that helps pastors find new jobs and relocate.

  • ansonheath

    The number of comments here and the length of many of them is overwhelming. Have we struck a nerve?
    Almost 200 years ago, Charles Finney said that all corruption and immorality in the government and the people of the country can be traced to the pulpit. Judging by the state of the nation and what I read here, which is not surprising to me at all – is there a connection? It breaks my heart to read this.
    As someone who has served as an elder and occasionally standing in for the pastor in his absence, I have some reflections.
    The church has become a baby sitting service for adults. The weekly sermon is mostly about ‘our relationship with our savior’ – but what is our mission?
    The last thing a pastor is allowed to do is to make waves. We have become so ‘nice conscious’ that we think Christianity is the art of pleasing everyone. Is that what Jesus did? “How to win friends and influence people?”
    How many churches are truly making disciples? That means you have to teach and delegate – teach and delegate – (repeat).
    What is taught in the seminaries? Is it the blind leading the blind?
    The questions keep mounting with few answers given, but they are there.
    The apostles were accused of ‘turning the world upside down’. When was the church last accused of that? Oh, we’re here just to go along and get along, eh?
    My point is that over the last 100+ years the seminaries have become pabulum dispensers. The poor pastors are not properly prepared or equipped to deal with the challenges they face. The shock of the real world can overwhelm any pastor in a short time. The fact that a pastor cannot afford to feed his family is a direct reflection on the ‘leadership’ of the church, if I can call it that. If you’re an elder and you know about this, what are you doing about it? You’re not a potted plant!
    The mission of the church is to make disciples of all nations. Do we even understand what that means? It is not evangelizing; it is not saving souls; it is not giving sermons. Those activities are just the beginning. When we begin the process of making disciples, which requires time, sweat and tears – and requires the involvement of everyone in the church – we will not have time to agonize over our problems in the church. We will be busy dealing with them and resolving them as we carry on the mission we’ve been given.
    Christianity is not a pity party! It is a mission given to us by the one who saved us – get to work!

  • Billy

    My experience is that it is more than likely the majority of the folks that pastors are “pastoring” are not sheep. The “church” experience has become a weekend activity for most rather than a piece of the organic whole that the church was meant to be. What happened to devoting ourselves to the apostle’s teaching, breaking of bread, fellowship and prayer as a daily integrated natural response to being connected to the body of Christ, ah high view of the holiness of God and an elevate view of the scriptures. Most Sunday “church”services are nothing more than a siloed reflection of our self centered culture. Pastors burn out in large part because they can’t meet the individual demands of people who’s chief concern on Sunday morning is what they will get, i.e. Musical style, lights, sound systems, padded seats, power point, simple biblically light topic oriented sermons that have little biblical content and are heavy on antidotes and jokes, at bottom to feel good about the experience, and let’s not forget the kids programming, special music, traditional vs. contemporary services, and “community outreach”. I believe that the church that is described in the pages of Scripture is much different than what is considered church today because the scriptural church was truly comprised of the called out ones and the apostles/pastors were quick to address wolves and heresy. Sadly that is generally accepted as not being the case today. Pastors either live the contradiction by dogging it out and eventually burnning out, or they accept it and lead multitudes astray. It is a call to return to the simplicity and biblicity of the church.

    • Tony Bolen

      Amen, Brother!

  • Rusty

    I rarely write anything on blogs but I had to respond when I came across your post. I served as the pastor of only one church but my ministry there spanned over twenty-one years. My tenure was definitely successful based, of course, on the current ministry definition of “success’. The church grew in attendance over 600%, purchased over 20 acres of property, and built a new building completely–all completely debt free. When I came to the church, I envisioned that I would retire there. My wife and I even own burial plots in the church cemetery. Today, I am out of the ministry and, at least at this point, out of church as well. What happened?, you ask. I can only say that the tremendous growth placed tremendous demands on me, stretching me thinner and thinner until, at last, I broke. It’s been over a year since I left and I still struggle with the entire religious machine that has become the church. I plan to follow your blog and, hopefully, contribute to the discussion from time to time.

    • Rusty, thanks for the comment. You are the reason we started this site, to come alongside you and encourage you and to see you healed and restored once again. Thank you for taking the time to reach out. Let me know if you ever want to chat. Blessings.

  • PJ

    My reasons for wanting to leave the ministry really have nothing to do with the hours or the money. I welcome the work and, like any way of life, you have to learn to live within your means.

    I’m simply sick to death of all the incessant whining and complaining, both at home and at the church. I just can’t take it anymore. I tired of feeling like I can’t make anybody happy and I’m sick of feeling like I’m in this all alone.

    I just want a normal life. A life where I can just make friends normally. Most clergy I meet have their heads so far up their rears, caught up in their ‘title’ that you can’t interact with them. The parishioners can’t just talk to you like a normal person because the idea of ‘who the pastor is’ has been so warped in our religion (and has been for centuries).

    I’ve been doing this for 17 years now. A good chink of my time has been spent being a “stay at home dad” as my wife will not allow hardly anybody, even her own mother, to take care of our kids. My boy is almost in kindergarten, which means I won’t have to be half babysitter/half pastor and I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas day. I can see the light at the end of tunnel and I am ready to go back to a ‘normal’ career.

  • Preacher

    Bo, I’m a dual-parish pastor (meaning I serve 2 congregations) and also work part time for my denomination in the area of ministerial health. My main task? I give a presentation that I developed to leadership boards of congregations, sharing with them how to keep their ministers in and healthy in ministry. So far, I’ve had positive results. I’d love to correspond with you on this topic.

    • Please do. Feel free to email me at bo (at) bolane (dot) org. Blessings.

  • Bryan

    My name is Bryan, I’m 53 years old, spent the first 40 years of my life in the UMC, then God, proving He has an amazing sense of humor, called me to become a Presbyterian pastor. I visited a friends church, my wife and I were so very well accepted and we stayed for 8 years. I’m now studying to become a Methodist pastor. I just wanted to comment that I have given my life to the church, have served in every capacity and at age 53 I’m still excited, still enthusiastic and waiting with great anticipation what God has in store for me. However, I have also seen the other side of pastoring, my sister Leigh became a UMC pastor in Illinois, was treated poorly by members of her congregation, received no support from her district or conference connections and as a result, attempted suicide on 4 different occasions. I believe the key to a successful ministry is to have a strong support system already in place, to allow the power of prayer to work its miracles and to attend as many retreat weekends as possible. I’ve attended over 50 including Walks to Emmaus, Presbyterian Pilgrimage, Lay Witness Missions, Discipleship weekends, Discover God’s Call and more.I have found support groups on facebook to be very helpful as well as internet destinations like this one. I applaud your efforts!!
    Love and blessings,
    Bryan G.
    Virginia

  • dawesi

    not so much leaving the ministry, just leaving paid ministry. Ministry is also more out of buildings than in them these days also…

    as a ok (salvo officer pk) for many years, I think things have changed a lot in the last 5-10 years tho and churches pay pastors a lot better. churches like Dayspring in NSW Australia quite often are full of hurting pastors, and they get them healed and back in action.

    i think the big issue wi when pastors don’t get pastoral care themselves that’s where if falls apart.

  • RickR

    The only REAL encouragement comes from the manual –
    Exodus 32:19 (NKJV) So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 32:22
    (NKJV) So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You
    know the people, that they are set on evil.
    Realize who and what kinda people you work and live with. Notice I didn’t say minister to – you have an audience of 1.

    Exodus
    32:30–32 (NKJV) — 30 Now it came to pass on the next day that
    Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up
    to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their
    sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

    Put yourselves on the line, that’s what a shepherds calling is. You know it.

    Exodus 32:33–35 (NKJV) And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has
    sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 Now therefore, go, lead
    the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall
    go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will
    visit punishment upon them for their sin.” 35 So the LORD plagued the people
    because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.
    “go, lead” – don’t hold anything back, be honest, speak “the truth with grace and truth”.

    Matthew 27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people
    plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.
    Yep – your in good company when you sacrifice yourselves, if your no willing to, and have a sense of entitlement then your NOT CALLED!

  • Art

    If I had the opportunity to implement change in how church’s operate this would be my plan. I would have all the wife’s of pastors continue there degree in counseling or psychology to be paid by the main district that oversees church’s that they are attending. They have a contract set up for child care and to work out side of the church and work at the church with minimal hours not to conflict with school and outside work once they are completed if they leave the church after they finished school they must pay back the main district for expenses . The district can now open a office for counseling and psychology and help the public and church attendees. This would help out Pastors and the church they minister at as they continue there ministry and each church can open up there own office that will provide help for non-profit and profit.

  • NNK

    I relate heavily with this. I’ve been doing ministry for a while and trying to go back to school, but part of me wants to throw in the towel. I’ve been burned in too many full time volunteer positions with nothing but empty promises. I don’t have anyone coming along side me in the season of life I’m in and no one is showing me how to achieve the goals and dreams God has put in my heart. I struggle with what to even study or focus on as a major because on one hand everyone says to just trust God and go for the ministry degree and let him make it happen. They say this about the financial aspect as well. I have no idea how to go to school and come out the other side without acquiring a mass of loans backed-up and trailing behind me. I feel lost and confused, but when you’re in the ministry there often feels like no support for you, you’re there to be the support of others. I don’t mean to sound like a complainer, I really just feel lost and am not sure where to go next.

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  • Jlimon

    One factor that I believe is causing pastors to leave is because they were never called to that position in the first place. In the body of Christ, we have taken away the dream that God put in a person such as doctor, lawyer, store manager, business person, banker ect. And replaced it with the “only ” calling we could think of and that is a minister. Because the world was so scary, we steered People away from the desire God gave them and counciled them to a pastorate. We can’t wonder why the world is the way it is because we, the church never allowed our congregations to pursue their dreams, go into the world and then change it from the inside out. (Joseph or Daniel). But I believe the youth of today is figuring that out and are entering the universities and going after their God given dream. Change is coming…

  • TomIsAnchored

    63% of pastors wonder where these stats came from.

    A better source for pastor’s attitudes toward their jobs here:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2011/october/brand-new-research-on-pastors-and-their-view-of-ministry.html

    • You can click the link above to view the source. It was posted 7 days when the article was published. Thanks for joining in on the conversation.

  • Donna Ineedabeat Clark

    Imagine a world where 80% of the populace voluntarily donated 10% of their income to support the spread of knowledge that actually impacted the flourishing of humankind. Engineers, physicists, chemists, biologists, geologists, neurologists, sociologists, botanists could all kiss their funding woes goodbye and the rest of us could enjoy the unadulterated fruits of their beautiful minds. Utopia.

  • Diggitt

    I wonder what the stats are for rabbis?

  • Kerry Miller

    Someone mentioned something about pastors a few weeks ago. An observation that there is nothing Scriptural about having a designated individual as “the pastor.” Elders are there. Bishops and overseers are there, barely distinguishable from elders. But no pastor. No one who “makes his living” as a pastor. Maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe if you make your living as a pastor, the risk of sliding from shepherd to hireling is far too great–for many of the reasons in this article. And when the hireling gets tired, he quits and walks away from the flock. I have heard tell of (but never experienced) churches where there is no designated vocational pastor; there is a council of elders, and they share the burdens of ministry, taking turns delivering sermons (messages, teachings, whatever you prefer to call them), and sharing/dividing the other duties of ministry to others. I know that brainstorming changes to the structure of “the church” wasn’t the primary intent of the article, but this seemed as good a place as any to raise the idea.

  • Snoop

    Do some clerics quit because they grow weary of lying for a profession?

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  • texas tom

    I am a pastor in Texas. I have been in ministry over 20 years, half in Texas and half in Alabama. I have enjoyed the good parts of it a lot but cringe at the bad. I serve in a difficult setting, a church in a part of Dallas-Fort Worth where everyone is moving AWAY FROM. Our church struggles to stay plateaued. I know some of that responsibility falls on me, but not sure how much. Yet, at 43, I really like what i do (I didn’t once upon a time) and i have learned to be content and joy-filled for two reasons.

    1. About 5 years ago i was depressed, frustrated, isolated (i still have lonely) and ready to give up. I wasn’t burning out, i WAS burned out. I had moved from the point of realizing that i couldn’t please everyone to the fact that i wasn’t pleasing ANYone. It is one thing to not be about to please everyone at one time, but i didn’t think i could ever please a single person, which is altogether a different and helpless feeling. Then one wednesday night, our chairman of the deacons announced at the beginning of our finance meeting that the meeting would only be 5 minutes (surprise to me). He was true to his word and then he and 2 other deacons on that committee walked me to my office where 3 other deacons where waiting. Yeah, you all know what i was feeling. Instead of lowering the hammering on me. They spoke up and said that they saw that i was depressed and overwhelmed and that congregants were being overly negative and critical. Then after saying that they supported me 100%, one asked me, “Tom, what can we do to help you in whatever way you need it?” I replied, “you just did.” I would have never thought to even ask for that help. My point is that sometimes you just need to let wonderful godly key leaders know you need help (pick the right ones) and you might get the support you would never have asked for.

    2. That event led me to a personal evaluation and i came across Ezekiel 34 (see also Jeremiah 23). God needs sincere shepherds. We have to protect his sheep. I had the strength from these men to then refocus on my own calling. I have cut through the superfluous stuff in ministry and in the church. I don’t have time for that anymore. I am who I am in Christ and I will serve with my strengths and flaws (working on the latter as i can), but I will always focus on feeding the sheep. I have come to realize that good people do bad things and bad people do good things so i don’t put too much stock in lifting people up nor do i get overly disappointed when people fall. I have not had a raised in 6 years (and i was underpaid then, espeically considering my education), but i have learned to be well content with what i have. All of these were part of my own short-comings, so i say all this having learned to deal with them.

    I love the church and i love ministers even more. I encourage you all. May God cause his face to shine upon you all.

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  • g_loves_jesus

    I found this book was very helpful in addressing a lot of the issues in this article. It should be a required read in Seminary…The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives
    by Peter Scazzero

  • Ronnie Bruzer

    Mr. Lane. I have just made it through my first five years as a pastor and have witnessed all of these things in some form or fashion. I agree with your article, and know that being a full time minister is almost a bi-polar endeavor, going from the high to lows often within one day. I also know how stressful the ministry can be on a marriage. I wish that I could tell you who said it first, but I have often heard that wives consider the church the mistress of their husband. I wonder if some of the cause is just plain emotional burnout. We care so much for the people that God gave us to minister to, and we lose the time we need to seek God’s face. Our ministry becomes our lives instead of our lives becoming our ministry. I know that is a lot to say to get around to a question that has little to do with all of those words, but I was wondering if it is possible to get a footnote for the stats that you presented. They are very interesting, and if we are going to try and find a solution within our denominations, we need to start with the raw data. Thank you for your article.

    • Ronnie, thanks for the comment. There is a link to the source study at the bottom of the article. There are also many other studies out there as well. At some point, we will try and make these links more accessible in one location. There are books as well that hit on this. Lance Witt’s book, Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul, and Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. I hope that helps.

  • revrich

    I was told by a director of missions not too long ago that at least one-third of the pastors in his large association of Southern Baptist churches would leave ministry tomorrow if they could provide for their families. I asked him what this meant for their ministries in their churches, and he said they were just going through the motions. So this issue has more implications than just what is happening to the pastors individually. It is affecting the spiritual lives of many others, including the lost.

  • Lark

    Is it possible that pastors leave the ministry because they become aware of a cognitive dissonance between what they believe, and what they teach and allow? I think the poverty would not be so great a problem, unless there were severe cognitive dissonance. I have been through many assemblies, churches, etc., and find that preachers/pastors are in the habit of coddling their wealthy members, and removing their less powerful, less influential, less wealthy folk – either by ignoring them or actively abusing them. This has got to be ONE Spirit killer.

  • Lark

    Y’shua also had no place to lay his head. . . And about the 90% not prepared? Precisely! Young starry-eyed people go into ministry with no idea what they need to know, and assure us that they DON’T need to know 1. Hebrew, 2. Greek, 3. Bible. Not only are they not prepared to earn a living, they aren’t prepared to pastor – because pastoring requires knowledge and experience. Pastoring isn’t a career choice. It should be a passion and a ministry. When the passion isn’t there, the knowledge isn’t there, and the experience isn’t there, they ARE in the wrong place for sure. They SHOULD leave churches, assemblies, ministries, and get a job to support their families until they DO have the knowledge, experience, wisdom, commitment, and passion. When they DO get a pastorate, their first job should be to equip the saints for ministry so they WON’T be overwhelmed.

  • elmo033057

    Let’s see, I was in the military and had to sleep in 50 below weather for 3 months in Alaska every other year, I’ve been a janitor and carried 200 chairs up 5 flights of stairs every other day, been a school teacher where the students used to curse at me and throw pieces of metal at my face, worked for a city where I rode on a garbage truck for exactly one day when I got thrown from it and hit the pavement and had my wrist shattered.

    Sorry kiddies, life sucks then ya die. Jesus said, “The student isn’t any greater than the master. If they came for me, they will surely come for you.” Something like that.

    Toughen up cupcakes, lead or get out of the way.

    • Pappa Murf

  • Marilyn Meredith

    Our pastor is a true minister who feels called to serve our church. He’s been through all the things you’ve mentioned–our church is filled with poor people and recovering and trying to recover alcoholics and drug addicts. Not very many who fill the offering plate, but the Lord continues to bless us and provide for our needs. He drives the church bus (a donated 15 passenger van) to pick up people who have no cars so they can come to church, he not only visits people in the hospital, he has driven them to far off places for operations and stayed with them and brought them home, he fixes people’s cars, he spends hours talking to folks on the phone, and I could go on and on. I probably know more about what he does because his wife is my daughter. She’s head of the music ministry and goes with her husband on many of his calls–and she clean houses for extra money.

    • Thanks Pamela! I posted a link to the translation in the article above.

  • ShelbyCobra

    Honestly, I think giving so much “power” to one person will eventually negatively impact that individual and those around them. Why can’t a church have more shared “powers” so that no one individual is expected to live up to a higher standard than the rest of the congregation? As I see it, so much is expected of a pastor when in reality they are just as human as you or me. Remember the quote, “To whom much is given, much will be expected.” Sharing the power equally among the congregation disperses the powers given, this way everyone is helping keep each other accountable. What I’d imagine my concept to start out as would begin by a church member or family unit telling a story/experience they’ve had and how they’ve grown from it. I would be a lot more interested in going back to church if there were someone (or a family) giving the sermon each Sunday. That way everyone is always learning something new and being able to see it from more than just the pastor’s own understanding.

  • Kristen Gonzalez

    My husband is a music minister. Before we were married during our engagement we decided to leave our comfortable lives behind and go to the desert to be involved in a church plant as soon as we were married and back from the honeymoon. The pastor a few years back had seen my husband lead worship at the college we were going to and e-mailed him about this church plant opportunity. That was over 3 1/2 years ago. After much prayer and consideration we called the pastor up and said yes to him to serve as the music minister in his new church plant. It has now been two years since we started there and recently the pastor left the church and is no longer the pastor or involved in the church. That leaves us with no pastor. There is a man leading the services now(un-ordained) but sometimes it’s just me and my husband showing up to church, thats 3 total people over the course of two years time….we’ve seen people come and go. It’s been VERY rough and difficult and now that the pastor has left it sort of leaves us in a strange position. I am unsure of why he left, but I can probably assume there are many reasons as to why, 3 people total showing up after 3 years of starting a plant being one of them and taking on so much responsibility with only my husband being the only other paid staff member. DIFFICULT for all parties involved. We are still praying for discernment and direction. We shall see what each day brings.

  • shipwreck

    This is no different than the things small business owners go through. Start a business and you’ll get it.

  • TJ

    I’m not sure how I’m feeling. I’ve been in church all my life and as a military wife even overseas in the various countries we lived in, we still found good churches. But all the churches I’ve been to, am in, the pastors have far more time than the working folk around me for the past twenty years. They drive new vehicles. They take vacations with family, they take cruises, and mission trips. Post pictures of them eating out all the time. and going to ministerial like banquets. They go fishing and camping and hunting with the best gear. Usually given to them. This does not sit well with most enlisted families, since we can’t afford these things in any abundance. I’m not complaining, it’s always been thus. We pay our tithes, how the church spends it is between them and God. Another thing was the depression angIe, I have a masters in psychology and biblical counseling. If it’s not chemical, then it’s sin. I realize there are small churches out there struggling but depression without medical cause is self pity and not faith in our infinitely powerful God. I wasn’t shocked, I know pastors are human. But I think these problems stem from a personal disconnect with God and the pastor not anything shocking! It’s sin, we’re human that’s what we do. Our pastors need prayer, not more money, shorter workdays, workloads or counseling. Maybe that’s what you were saying. I pray this didn’t come across negative. It really is not meant to be. Maybe it will get people off the pews to volunteer in ministries of their churches and help. Not for the pastors sake bur God’s.

  • snow

    I think the real reason is that religion for the most part is a business. I say that because i spent a number of years searching for the answers. What was right and what was wrong. Researching different religions because I have never been one to believe what I’m told but rather research it myself to come to my own conclusions. I don’t believe in religion bashing because through my experience I have found good people in all religions, just like there are bad people in all religions. Let’s take the Christian religion for example. I will not say what Christian entity I went to but after the sermon, talk, preaching or what ever you would like to call it, I asked a question. I simply wanted to know why he would teach certain teachings when their origin is not found in the Bible. His exact words to me were “if I told these people the truth, they wouldn’t be here” It was at that moment that i started to recognize religion as simply a business. Let’s take any other profession. .. The same problems apply. High turn over, not enough pay, the fear that you are not qualified to do anything else. Welcome to life Cardinal, Bishop, priest, missionary or what have you. However, you do have an advantage over us blue collar folk… You believe God will provide. Attitude is half the battle and us blue collar stiffs could learn a thing or two about that.

  • PT

    I’ve been a part of five churches. Two were quite legalistic. One began wonderfully, and then (five years in), there was a pastoral search and a new pastor who brought in what felt like a different philosophy. Currently, I pastor a small church. Been here for two and a half years, and I’m loving it.

    I bring this up because I understand backbiting and pain caused not only from people in the church, but from leadership. BUT, I think that’s part of what happens and sometimes to be expected. The New Testament doesn’t paint a rosy picture of ministering to a local church. Look at how the churches treated the apostle Paul. He was dying to self everyday.

    I don’t say this to reprimand anyone for leaving a church. Nor do I say this to diminish hurt. I personally would never choose to go back to some of the churches I’ve been. I still can feel angst. But I say this to encourage us to look straight at the difficulties so we can address the hurt effectively and by the grace of Christ.

    If I can encourage you, bruised reed, look to Jesus. He is a healing balm. He is the Redeemer. He is coming back to judge and bring His own home.

  • Roy Payne

    I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced most of these in a lifetime of ministry. Possibly due to the fact that I’ve always been a part of small churches? Possibly because I’ve never had the expectation of being treated well? I’m a pastor because God called me to be one and I’ve always looked at it as being a soldier in the “Army of God”. Soldiers don’t expect a life of ease … just the opposite, in fact. Four weeks off in one stretch? Another two week, all expense paid “study trip”? Being well-paid would be nice, but Jesus wasn’t & the Apostle Paul made tents to pay his own way. As for depression & discouragement, I’d say these guys need to spend more time in the Word & on their knees. A few things he said lead me to believe he’s speaking mostly to pastors of denominational churches and I’ve never been one, believing the NT model of independent churches is the right way. Maybe that’s part of these men’s problems. Summing up, I’m reminded of the old hymn that says, “Should I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease? While others fight to win the prize and sail through bloody seas? Sure, I must fight if I would reign. Increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the cross, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word !!”

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  • Brandon

    Kinda strange… I left Youth Ministry for none of those reasons and feel way more qualified now to give advise and counsel people as being just one of the “pew fillers”. Why would he feel like he couldn’t advise? The Good Book doesn’t change just cause your job title does. Starting with this… A Pastor is in a leadership role much like CEO or a manger of a store, or a small business owner, or a captain of a team, so on. OVERWORKED? 55-75 hours a week? Compare that to a leader of a business or small business owner, probably not far off. However, as a business person, I work 50-70 hours a week and still find time to volunteer on the regular, cause I thought we were called to a life of service as Christians. GROSSLY UNDERPAID? Welcome to the club, especially in California. Something about the birds in the air comes to mind. DEPRESSION and FAMILY IMPACT? Seems to me like I was promised two things when became a Christian, suffering and salvation. I’ll gladly deal with one to have the other, thank you! And as my relationship with my Savior increases, so does my Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, and Gentleness. Which would make me think that depression would do the inverse. LONLEY? Really?! I will give only half credit on this. God did make man and woman because God saw that it was good, so I get it that we need to connect to people. But, ever heard the phrase, “Its lonely at the top”?? Go outside the church and find a city or business leader to befriend. Its not that hard, people love being valued and here’s a secret, they are probably lonely too and would welcome the friendship. 40% have conflict with people, monthly? Easy… Slam dunk… If living by and preaching the Bible, the person has a conflict with the Scripture, not you. Get over it. Jesus was hung by a mob and you think everyone should like you? Just report what is written and yes, some of it makes me uncomfortable, but my God is faithful. There is a lot of mention of the shepherd in the Bible. Christ is called the Shepherd. Its slightly confusing get the real sense of this title as most people have never seen a real shepherd. They are hardworking, dirty, tired, not esteemed by the public and around stinky things that need constant guidance and protection. So when called to ministry or to “look after the flock” I think we imagine the figurine of the shepherd in the Nativity Scene and not the one that has to roll up his sleeves and deal with a little more shit then comfortable with. Leadership is both a gift and a skill. Mentorship and apprenticeship not given enough value or practiced enough. Life whether Christian or not is hard. Whether pastor or patron is hard. Whether ready or not is hard. But God is faithful. Just an observation from a PK.

  • Anonymous Pastor

    Most of the pressures of the ministry are expected by a mature and prepared ministry candidate, even as a trained warrior has reasonable projections of what he’ll be facing when
    first blooded. And as we train soldiers to defend against and to attack the enemy, they are in a hard spot when taken out by friendly fire, so also the pastor/associate pastor/assistant pastor is trained to resist and fight the good fight of faith against the world, the flesh, and the devil; we (I) never expect the attack to come from within our own ranks. From where my family
    and I lay in the twisted wreckage of our former lives we can see only too clearly how our wounds came not from the “sinners” but from the Senior Pastor and those who are caught up in the cult of his personality. He is a wonderful pastor, and I learned much from him in the 20 years we were part of “his” great church. The problem however, comes as people within the
    ministry begin to cherish any Assistant Pastor it is an immediate threat to the micro-managing ego-maniac who we lovingly call “Preacher” and even those of us who live under his wrath cannot fathom that our best friend, our pastor, the best pastor any of us have known has subtly transformed into the primary adversary of peace and joy in our lives.
    Even now I have no desire to make our tribulation public or to smear neither the work of God nor the name of Jesus Christ; we try to move on with our lives. We feel like we were run out of town (now living thousands of miles away in a town where we know no one) and must keep this secret in spite of being sure that other casualties will follow in our pattern as we did in the pattern of others before us (always believing they were disgruntled traitors as we were told or implied). I have come to believe that God does His work in spite of us. When he blesses the ministry of a man like my former pastor, it is no different than when He blesses the ministry of an adulterous preacher or an embezzling preacher (we’ve all heard of someone having a tremendous influence shortly before it coming to light of their transgression). That is because God calls and gifts men for ministry, and the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. We may think a man is spiritual, when all the evidence we have for that conclusion is from the observation of the spiritual gifts operating which God gave him. Though he proclaims loudly how much he desires everyone in the church to be as knowledgeable in the scriptures as he, when one does, it begins the delicate (at first, then cruel) process of diminishing the “rival” to a point where he poses no threat before the congregation (who all of us hold him higher than we should). He unilaterally controls the finances of a several million dollar budget while pretending that his board holds him accountable, I’ve watched him cajole and herd them to his desired outcome often citing “time constraints” or “need to know” as reason enough to hurry things along; after all, everyone trusts him to do the right thing and to know what needs to be known about anything going on in the ministry.
    While this story is a particular case in why ministers leave the ministry, and some did go on from there to other ministries and others were excommunicated due to their disgruntledness; the rivalry between staff members (whether malicious or incidental) is a very real and mostly unexpected cause of failure. This pastor glamourizes the 1950’s as a time of Christian preeminence while scorning muslims for glamourizing the 12th century, women should be in the home as home-makers and not in the work place, but the ministry employees 3 times as
    many women as men, of course they aren’t paid equal pay for equal work (Ha, what woman can do equal work). The attitude of how women are to be treated is only different in semantics to avoid trouble. So while God is building his church, the emperor is building his empire. Souls are being saved, saints disciple and anyone who makes the emperor or the church look bad is moved out of the way, one way or another. I think that when any man becomes the center of attention in a church, and especially with strong leaders who have strong personalities, there
    exists the early form of a cult. The focus should remain on Jesus Christ always, and things should be done for the cause of Christ not “for the good of the ministry.” I think the pastor will never know how many people who loved him dearly he has hurt nor how badly he has hurt them. I know many who will never trust another man to be a pastor to them.

  • Will

    Thanks for writing this. I am a bivo pastor in between ministries right now, so I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately. I took each point and answered them on my own blog: http://offthereservationjournal.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/why-pastors-leave-the-ministry/

  • burning ones

    Truth be told, many leave for one of two reasons: 1. They never had the “fire” 2. They lost the “fire”. Folks may leave the full time vocational ministry but the “Fire of God” will never be extinguished as long as the “wood” is being added daily

  • Hanelle Suth

    Pastors are like celebrities. Their lives are judged by others especially church members. More than we dare to admit, pastors live their lives trying to please others more than to please God. This is why I left the church and led a quiet life, simple food, simple faith, simple friends and ample time to be with God and with the people who really need my helping hands. I just want to live loving God and pleasing Him alone. If the people are not pleased with me, it’s not my problem

  • Colby Kinser

    I believe part of the problem is the way we’ve structured “church.” I am serving now as a pastor in a fairly typical evangelical church, and I’m not anti-institution. However, I believe that the more we move to a missional-incarnational model, and away from an attractional-extractional model, the less overworked and more fruitful pastors will be. The attractional-extractional model puts a lot of unnecessary demands on a pastor, taking him further and further away from the exact same ministry that all the congregation should be doing together. It’s not the ministry that overworks me – it’s all the maintenance.

  • Michael Quinlan

    15 years ago God (Yes God) led me to leave the organized church as we know it and come away with him into the desert. I asked him for 3 confirmations telling no one. We all know everyone has an opinion :0). I received my confirmations and ventured into the unknown with God.

    Boy was I judged and called backslider etc by those who supposedly loved me In Jesus name…It was sad and hard at first but exciting a whole new adventure were I was not in control.

    Daring to live on the edge were Jesus lives’ to boldly go where most Christians long to go, but because we have seen too many examples of our Brothers being shot down, we listen to man and not God…Fear of your neighbor is a terrible thing…but a holy healthy fear of your heavenly father is a powerful way to live.

    Over the past 20 years I have only met a hand full of people who were thoroughly passionate about God, the vast majority have a knowledge of him or are more concerned about their status before others or telling other Christians how they should live their lives or building their own kingdoms and bringing converts into the same bondage as themselves.

    In short I believe God brought me to this country to teach me how to love the lost sheep of his flock and it has been very hard class to take! Many times I have wanted to quit. But as I slowly progress and gain his understanding of unconditional love I gain understanding of how he feels by the churches rejection of his love.

    Over the next 8 years I had more fellowship than I had in all the 14 odd years of churches I attended. Truth be told I was bored to death in church, It was like I was dying inside spiritually and my spirit needed to be fed…the more I cried out to God I felt his heart for a people that had chosen to go their own way. Everything looked right but inside no real life existed.

    I knew I was not the only one and I know there are 1000`s more God has called out into the desert to be wooed by HIM: 0)

    When you look at it biblically all the people who wanted more of God spent long times alone with Him, being broken, engineered, rebuilt. Their ministries destroyed and his plan being restored in their hearts….Moses…David….Joseph…Paul…to name but a few :0)

    God continually sent me Angels and Visions along the way to encourage me…the Following is one instance….It happened in the High desert of Central Oregon on one of many motorcycle trips….

    It was early in the morning I was heading north bound on Highway 97 about 60 miles north of Klamath Falls Oregon. The sky was clear and the temp was in the 90`s and I was doing one of my favorite things….I had been gone for 3 days riding my! 1985 BMW k100 motorcycle…the worlds rolls Royce of bikes 🙂 I have ridden many bikes before, but in my estimation no other bike comes close…those Germans know what they are doing vvvvvvvvrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    I had just had breakfast at a roadside cafe and now relaxed and well fed I opened up the throttle and sped north through the morning air of vast high desert of good old Oregon…..I was feeling truly alive , gloriously present. This is living I thought to myself…I wish my dad could see me know living my dream in the US of A…

    As a child growing up in Ireland, I had always dreamt of riding through the desserts of cowboy land ,sleeping under the stars ,now I was riding a wonderful piece of engineering, at last playing in my own westerns!! YAY for me 🙂

    Then a thought came to me…pull over and make a memorial…yes just like that…..Ok God! I will , so I looked for a side road, found one, propped the beamer on the stand , walked down a sandy embankment to a clearing in the high desert pines. (Seven years before I had left Church / organized religion to embarked on a journey of self discovery and had come into a deeper more meaningful relationship with my creator)

    So I looked around for some rocks to make a memorial but could only find wood. That will do I thought and so I knelt down and placed my right hand on the sand and with my left plied the small clump of wood on top. Ok! God what to you want me to say…. the words just flowed out….I told God that the old Michael Quinlan with all his hurts and fears was dead , gone ,the new man was alive , ready to live. So I stood up and felt the most tremendous peace envelope me.

    While this was going on my cell phone rang, it was my friend Sonya. Mike where you…out are in the desert I said….. When are you coming back…don’t know I replied…Hey guess what just happened I said and filled her in …wow she said , we agreed to meet in a few days for tea and hung up.

    I climbed the embankment and feeling like a new man hopped on the beamer and sped north…..wow …that was great I thought reliving the moment, I felt so free….. then it happened! No I did not crash :0)

    … All of a sudden I knew I was not alone and could sense something coming up on the left side of the bike , as I looked the most beautiful vision pulled up and rode alongside of me….It was a golden motorcycle , it looked like a cross between an Indian bike / Harley . Riding it was God , his hair and beard were flowing in the wind and a big grin was on his face..

    Before I could get a word out…He said…Is`NT this great… (I always knew he was with me …but this was so cool…for a kid that always wanted to go riding with his earthly dad ( it had never happened…) this was the ultimate :0) ) Then I had a strong urge to check my right mirror , I saw another bike coming up fast…I recognized the white helmet , the black leathers with red stripes down the arms , the brown bull nose tank of a Kawasaki 750..IT was My DAD..I began to weep uncontrollably (My Dad had died 9yrs ago) he drew up alongside me quickly and Glanced over at me…there was no face in the helmet only his spirit…I felt such unconditional love for him like I had never known before ..The author of many of my troubles in life…I was now loving freely and unshackled from…words can not describe how I truly felt…alive would be an understatement lol..

    Through my tears of joy I kept thinking I have to watch the road. That was some moment! All three of us Riding north on highway 97 on the breathtaking ride of our lives…well mine anyway 🙂

    It seemed like it went on forever or that time stood still , then it was over . I wept all the way to the high desert museum just outside of bend ( manag`ing to keep the bike on the road) had a long rest and reflection on the past couple of hours…a lot more happened on that trip….

    I have many stories but This is written to those of you That have dared to live on the edge and Follow the desire of the spirit …hang in there, it’s well worth it :0) and those of you feeling Gods pull on your heart GO FOR IT!!!!! Loose all for the sake of finding your none religious true self in Him :0)

    Cheers Mike :0)

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  • Two things, it would be interesting to see the breakdown according to denomination. Not because some are “better” or whatever, but some certainly have more stringent guidelines and that translates to more thorough preparation and addressing expectations of a pastor.
    Secondly, it would be also necessary to this discussion to include why these pastors felt called in the first place and how they made the decision to enter full time ministry. Some I know felt that was what they were supposed to do but their reasons are pretty shaky to downright wrong. Very godly, wise, gifted, talented people who are spiritually mature and capable are NOT called to “full time ministry.” God doesn’t just call pastors.

  • Also my husband and I are reading througha very helpful book called Resilient Ministry which addresses many if not all of these issues. It also talks to pastors wives who are in the midst of it all too!

  • Greg Dill

    “Most pastors are overworked.”

    “Most pastors feel unprepared.”

    “Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.”

    “Most pastor’s families are negatively impacted.”

    “Many pastors are lonely.”

    At the risk of sounding indifferent, unsympathetic or lacking empathy… all of the above things come with the job of working in God’s kingdom. Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-33 and see what Paul describes what life is like as a missionary, a doer, and expositor of God’s word. We should in fact be expecting these things. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

    • PappaMurf

      Very true…if you surrender to the call to serve in ministry at any level, you have a bullseye permanently tattooed on your back.

      I believe the big issue isn’t the existence of hardships; I believe anyone who enters ministry expecting smooth sailing is in for a very rude awakening. The big issue is the source of the hardships. Everything Paul lists in the scripture you reference came from outside of the fold. As ambassadors for Christ, we should expect “the world” to treat us as they treated Christ; Jesus said as much.

      The problem is the disillusionment, discouragement, and destruction that comes from the attacks from the people that are supposed to be on the same team as the minister. It is difficult enough to endure hardships from the enemy of our souls and outside sources but to fight off the christian-on-christian crimes is often too much for any one person to bear. Hence the feelings of solitude, overwork, and lack of preparation that brings negative impacts on most ministers and their families.

      Naturally the response to this statement will undoubtedly be “people are people” and “we should expect hardships from all sides, including our own” to which I will agree. However, it doesn’t take too many experiences with “friendly fire” before the wounds become impossible to heal from while occupying the position of pastor. It is not unlike trying to dry off while still in the swimming pool. In most cases, the damage done to the spirit, soul, mind, and body of the minister who has suffered many years of sheep bites can only be healed away from the pulpit and no amount of “get over it” talk will change that fact.

  • Z

    I left cause I couldnt bear the thought of being alone forever. I stayed in the closet through 10 years of service. Some would say I was gifted, ‘successful’. I was educated and had a wonderful set of pastoral co-workers. I liked most parts of ministry. We were a great team. But I was lonely, depressed, and it was affecting my health, all the fear of someone finding out. The “fishbowl”/”Pedestal” phenomenon was literally killing me. So I quit. After a roller coaster of unemployment and under employment I found work in the social sevices field (for half my previous salary) and am going back to school for a second masters degree. I have met and fell in love with a God-send. I am healthier, happier, and have experienced a level of spirituality and “leaning on Jesus” I never knew. I do miss pastoring. I dedicated my whole life to it, and even thought it would “fix” me. It didn’t. I’ll leave the “fixing” work, whatever that looks like, to the Almighty.

  • wwboy

    One aspect I think the article doesn’t highlight is the social dynamic ( of course this is heavier for some than for others). But as lovers of people, pastors often love to please and take care of people and that sometimes gets them in trouble: taking on too much or feeling the pressure of the congregation to do more than they can handle — or the wrong things — things that don’t fit their skills. Churches are chronically under resourced and so the leadership will always make a choice about its strategic focus and style. If the pastor sells out to please the cries of the whiners, he/she might end up being miserable.

    • wwboy

      On one more level, with regards to money — there’s some deep truth there. No one goes into pastoral ministry because of the pay. No one. If they do, they’re living outside the US or they’re idiots. That isn’t the case for most other professions.
      I’m paid very very modestly. On average I work approximately 50-60 hours a week. Sometimes that balloons to 80+. Let’s just say I average 55. On my salary, that’s the equivalent of $16.50/hour. Now, I don’t think what I’m making is poverty level and I certainly love aspects of my job and it has it’s perks. But the pressure the relatively low pay creates in my family compounded with other pressures from the job are VERY heavy.
      I can see the benefits of taking an ordinary 40/hr wk job at a similar salary. Wow. I could still do a ton of ministry on the side without all the expectation and drama and pressure.

  • Zed Pi

    Well, a thoughtful and concise article, quite to the point.
    I left the ministry after serving for 17 years. I can easily pinpoint the main reasons behind that painful and stressful decision:
    1. Doctrinal disagreement – Some churches – and I belonged to one of them – define their doctrines too tightly, so that a small change in doctrine leads almost directly to leaving it all up (or, down). My bone of contention was creationism, fiercely promoted and unreasonably defended.
    2. Burnout – My Church always emphasized the day of rest as obligatory for all Christians. However, I couldn’t have my own day of rest, sometimes for months. Moreover, I was going to sleep, to eat, to take a shower with my job and duties.
    3. Lack of success – Yep, we’re expected to baptize, to plant new churches, to bring the Gospel to everyone. However, in reality, we lose membership on daily basis; new converts are rare and of doubtful quality, to say the least. Whatever I did simply didn’t work. Quite frustrating….
    4. Disinterested fellows – For the most of my colleagues (I speak only about my own Church and my own Conference) pastoral service is just a job. Not that badly paid, without real responsibilities. My “bosses” were into a church “politics”; my members were dealing with their own daily life’ realities, not paying too much attention to the world to come. I simply found myself disinterested as well – I wasn’t ready to give my life for the service that no one was giving a damn for.
    And I left the ministry. And the ministry was supposed to be for life….

  • Drew

    there is also another reason to consider.. including myself, along with other ex-ministers I have met, there is a controversy among many denominations within there own communities regarding doctrines. Many do not understand that the “head offices” dictate to many ministers new and old on what they must believe and teach.. the problem with this is that when one commits there entire life to God that you never stop learning, therefore at times you will see mistakes in interpretations that the church have grounded themselves in.. If a Minister becomes so grounded in what he believes but his denomination will not except it, even though they can not prove he is incorrect, they will take him out of the ministry. there fore he has no pay or support, bare in mind the people he ministers to may agree with him or her, but the “head office” never will, because they have rules that go beyond scripture.. in his conviction one may decide to stand alone, but then there no funding.. a comment was made to me once, “If you want to get rich start a denomination, the money will come… if you want to be poor preach the Word of God and you will struggle because your enemies surround you..”
    Regardless Ministry is hard, faith will be tested regardless… and those in Ministry that have it easy are obviously complacent and ignorant due to being dictated to by man.
    In the last days it is said that there will be many false profits, If you look at all denominations they have some sort of profit that they revolve there beliefs around. SDA have Ellen White, Mormons have J.Bates, Catholics look to the Pope, JW’s look to the watch tower and so on… The Word of God has been distorted over decades via dictatorship. Some Ministers are truly convicted that the teachings that have been bestowed on them have flaws and inconstancies. So much so they find themselves isolated from there members…

  • youngen

    I entered “the ministry” when I was 21 years old. I had completed a degree in Theology and was an assistant at a church. What went wrong? I should have never been there in the first place. I was never called to be a pastor. Everyone I knew, knew that I felt that way, but I was called to share the Gospel. I was passionate about it. I wanted to. Entering “the ministry” seemed the only option to be effective. So what really went wrong? My church didn’t have enough outlets for a passionate young person like me to engage in meaningful sound-winning ministry. I thought my only option to make an impact was to study theology and end up in some role within my church. So of course, with the immense pressure of pastoral work, and my own young faith, I lost my desire. And I felt at peace to go. Pastoral work wasn’t for me. Sharing the Gospel is.

  • Articles like this remind me why I am glad to be a bi-vocational pastor working on a pastoral team (with another bi-vocational pastor). Being bi-vocational has its own set of struggles (overworked, for one) but it also saves me from other pitfalls. My livelihood isn’t tied to my pastoral duties and the weight of the entire church does not rest on my shoulders. Being part of a team is also a huge benefit. We share the pastoral load, which I think also offsets the “loneliness” factor listed above. Still, being a pastor is tough and my prayers go out to those struggling alone in the ministry.

  • Nicholas

    Join the catholic church, a vastly better system of spiritual reward and life. but of course, that entails getting ‘married’ to the church rather than having a family. Think that celibate priests avoid so much of the conflict that pastors have because they make the sacrifice for the church and god, to serve wholeheartedly and without any distractions. Not saying that having a family isn’t desirable or not good, but I think a decision must be made in that respect. Anyway, all the best in finding continued direction in life. Although I’m catholic, you guys are still my brothers in christ and for that I have much to be thankful for 🙂

  • Guest

    I’m curious as to your definition of ministry. If you only see ministry as a professional job, then yes, your article is right- but if it is a call from God that all people can accept, in the pulpit and out, then you can’t leave ministry. You’re always in ministry. I think you might want to reexamine how you define ministry.

  • Kitty

    I just read above article, and I’m now so glad that in the Catholic church the priests do not marry (they are ‘married’ to the Church), they take a vow of poverty, so are paid enough to buy essentials, car payments, gas, food etc. and can save some for vacations, but also donate much of the salary to their church, – It is definitely a full time job, and they attend college plus 4-5 years additional schooling to be prepared to deal with this and all questions others have. They also get knowledge in counseling, especially in marriages. And the BEST PART: We don’t stop and start churches all the time…there are some parishes that merge with others, but we all teach one faith, the Universal TRUTH!

  • Dick Bruesehoff

    Thank you for raising what certainly are huge concerns in many denominations and for many of us who are working every day with pastors and their families. And while I certainly do see that many pastors are struggling with discouragement, loneliness, overwork and conflict, some of the statistics in the blog don’t match the actual experience of at least my denomination. Thankfully we do not have 50% of our newly-ordained pastors leaving ordained ministry in the first five years. In fact our experience is that even after 15 years, less than 10% of pastors have left ordained ministry. And our experience is that a large majority (at least 7 of 10) does retire as a pastor. I’ve heard the terrifying numbers before that are quoted in above. Can you tell me where these numbers come from? Thanks for your work in supporting both those who continue to serve faithfully as pastors and those who have chosen to leave ministry as a pastor and, as someone said earlier, now are continuing their ministries as neighbors, in their jobs, in their neighborhoods and in their homes.

    • Thanks for the comment. The source for the statistics is referenced above. It was compiled by the Schaeffer Institute.

  • Shawn H

    In reading this article it sounds the same as most other people in most other types of jobs and careers. Pastors are just people and they go though the same feelings that an accountant, doctor or lawyer does. People have similar problems in many jobs. Everyone is in a ministry…some choose to minister as God guides them and some do not. BTW… I am not a pastor nor work in a church.

    • Daniel Golightly

      I think you are GRAVELY mistaken. Please tell me can a lawyer get fired for having an affair? So much so that unless he hides or lies about it that he may lose his license to practice law? A pastors can. Can a doctor be told to step down from the medical field b/c his children are rebellious? A pastor can. The social pressure alone that most in paid ministry experience would crush most people. It’s not the same. An accountant is a good accountant if he has all the books balanced. A baker is a good baker if he has all the bread baked. But a pastor has no absolute definitive way to “vindicate”
      Or “prove” himself. The church is growing? Only because your not preaching hard enough & your getting soft. Now we’re wide & not deep. What’s that the church is shrinking? It’s b/c your out of touch & we are going down fast if we don’t get some fresh leadership. The job of a pastor is to be a people pleased while having to tell them their wicked vile sinner in danger of God’s wrath & judgement whose only hope is found in God’s mercy in loving sacrifice displayed in the death of Jesus. You try selling that message.

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  • Sindy

    It seems to me, as I consider the many conversations in which I have been a privileged participant, that many clergy leave Church ministry for all of the reasons cited, plus one. She or he comes to a point on not believing what they are to preach, what they must sing, what they must pray. A small number completely lose the ability to believe in God or Christ or Jesus. The larger number seem unable to believe, and unwilling to teach, “one way only”, “Lord”, “kingdom”, etc, and /or to reconcile legitimate conflicts, knowledge from the sciences, and critical thinking with what they were taught, what they deeply believe is true, and with the demand of the congregation offer comfort rather than challenge.

  • Britt McNeill

    This is an excellent article, but I think there is a small logical (and statistical) error in one part of it.

    You say, “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… 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.”

    The second part of the section does not necessarily follow the first. It may be the case that those leaving the ministry are more likely to have a secondary means of making a living at a higher rate than of the whole (50% of whom have a secondary way of earning a living). In other words, the group that leaves may be more likely to have alternate means of employment than the whole – something of “self selection.”

    Thanks again for your work, and I hope your blog and ministry are helpful to the body and to pastors. SDG

  • JMike

    I have a good pastor friend who recently left pastoring full time. I have heard a number of people try to discredit, and criticize his decision; some even saying that he must have not been called to ministry in the first place. He devoted 30 years to the work of the Church, and they somehow forget all of that.
    I too, left full time ministry for awhile; however, I came back. Don’t pat me on the back just yet. When I returned to full time ministry, it was only a short time before I remembered why I left. For me, this article hits all too close to home. I have fought depression for a number of years because of ministry. For me, the depression comes as a result of trying to get people to do something they don’t want to do, to listen to a message that they don’t want to hear, believe a message that they say they believe, but really don’t and to make a commitment to something they really do not want to commit to. When I left full time ministry, I was perfectly content doing what I was doing. I was working a full-time job in transportation, and enjoyed meeting and even getting to witness, on occasion, to the people I would meet.
    I returned to full time ministry for the wrong reasons. While I love the opportunities afforded me through ministry and helping people, I mostly returned because of the guilt that placed on me from my family, and “friends” who “cared too much to not talk to me about it.”
    I find myself, on a weekly basis, wanting to return to a secular job where I don’t feel the pressures of trying to reach a level that sometimes seems completely unattainable.
    I love God, and am thankful for the salvation of my soul. I love to see people come to God, but I don’t like the constant feeling of inadequacies not being able to be inspiring.
    Who do I turn to for inspiration? What do I do?

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  • slau

    Totally agree with PJS. I left the church setting four years ago but still ministering to real people in and out of the churches. I don’t get a paycheck but I rather not. No matter how I am making a living doesn’t stop me from being a pastor ministering to those who need God.

  • Betty Haston

    I grew up a PK, in small town pastorates. I am aware of the personal and financial challenges that face ministers, especially in the small town settings. Your lives are open books lived in gold fish bowls where people hold the pastor and family (especially the children) to a higher level of perfection than they hold for their own families. My dad’s salary was never adequate enough by itself to support us financially. My mom worked as a night RN to supplement the income. Yet the only complaint I ever heard from my mom was the occasion when my dad made impractical decisions about spending our money, usually without consulting her first. I never heard either of them complain about the inadequacies, and when my brother and I would get frustrated with the double standard imposed on us we were gently reminded to remember God and THAT accountability level was the highest standard of measurement ever set before us. We were also taught, though, that God didn’t expect us to be door mats for people to wipe their feet on. One of my best comebacks to criticisms of my behavior by peers in my church was, “Do you know why PKs are so bad? They have play with the deacons’ kids!” I was quick to remind these peers that their accountability before the Lord was as heavy as mine. We also lived in communities who, though they could not adequately support us financially, gave what they could regularly, including sharing farm produce, chickens and portions of the cattle they slaughtered for their own family sustenance. While some may think it’s wrong for ministers to “have to think this way,” though, the bottom line for my parents was they did what they did because God called them to do it, not for expectations of financial gain but because people needed their service. We learned early to trust in the Lord to meet our needs, always realizing that there were others in our community struggling more than we were. God was good to provide my mom with close friends in our congregation and my Dad with ministry mentors and seminary friends on whom he could call in times of discouragement. I remember there being challenges, but mostly I remember the blessings of lessons learned growing up in that environment.

    • Lavender47

      and with God’s help, they raised a lovely understanding daughter!

  • Lavender47

    I read this article with a broken heart for those who are suffering in ministry of any kind. God has called me to serve in many ways as a Christian. I’ve served as a Sunday School teacher, women’s counseling, deliverance ministry, prayer ministry, Bible classes etc. It didn’t occur to me to seek for something in return for the privilege of serving beyond the obvious benefits of drawing closer to God and seeing His work in the lives of others. Am I selfless? By no means! I was just extraordinarily blessed in serving! After 25 years of bliss I encountered a pastor who came to serve in our church from a lifetime of serving in the mission field in Africa. He took a dislike to me that I never overcame. Through him I learned about rejection within the church and false accusations that would curl your hair or curdle your stomach. Never did I doubt God’s love for me or my faith in Him but I did leave that church and have not deeply connected with any other. My service in organized ministry seems to be finished but I thank God that He kept me from confusing His calling with acceptance within a church structure. Grandma used to tell me, “If the shoe fits, wear it”. I wore the shoe for a long time and it was a good fit. Now I’m just barefoot and loving it.

  • Julie Wenzel

    My husband and I were in church ministry for 18 years. 9 months ago, my husband left the pastorate. We didn’t leave God – but we did leave church ministry for good. I have always said that being in the pastorate was not for the weak, not for the insecure or for those who are overly sensitive by nature. We are none of those things, yet it has ruined us. I don’t know if I will ever be the same, and I cannot point to any good that came from it. I can give a final score of Church Ministry – 1, Bud and Julie – 0. For the first time in my life (I’m 42) I can honestly look back and say – what a waste. If we had never gone into the ministry; if we had just raised our girls in the church and been the kind of faithful, kind, supportive church members that we always had searched for in others – we would’ve been much better off. Instead our now grown girls have seen and experienced firsthand; the vicious and malicious behavior of Christians towards their own family, the cruel abandonment from those who once professed their love and support for you, and the deeply emotionally dysfunctional personalities in the pulpit that permeate the church.

    We have been take out to the woodshed by people, or so it feels. The healing has been so slow. I am at times overwhelmed by the guilt of leaving. Can we recover? Will I ever even want to sit in a church service again? Will I ever not wonder if the pastor or his wife is really narcissistic egomaniacs and the entire congregation is being duped? Will I ever not think to myself when meeting someone, “Stay away from me – I know you’re really crazy. I’ve your number lady… I know your kind.”

    My husband and I are closer than ever. I adore him. We love our girls. We are over the moon for them. They are beautiful, smart, kind, and in college. They are good girls. Sweet girls, godly girls. But, they are scarred girls. There is no love loss for the church. They know too much. They’ve seen too much. It’s like going to an R-rated movie and now the images are burned into their little eyes forever. That’s what church ministry did for them, and for us. Innocence lost.

    We have attended church regularly, but I do not belong anywhere, nor am I involved in any way. I have become what I used to look down upon; those that slink in, sit in the back & sneak out as soon as the preacher says, “Amen.” I know too much, I’ve seen too much, I cannot ever get back my love I once had for church. Just like the R-rated movie analogy, the images are burned into my mind forever.

  • Zuriel

    I have found great help from the book “Re-thinking the Wineskin” and the ministry of Watchman Nee as he shares that Church leadership is not meant to come from a singular person ie Pastor the word Pastor only correctly interpreted once in the Bible. Church leadership in the true Biblical model is shown to be from Mature Christians, (Elders), more than two or three who nurture and tend God’s people to look to Jesus and are made disciples of Him not the Pastor. The work of the ministry is shared by the mature saints within the fellowship. It is nor has ever been meant for a single person to tend the flock. …….

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  • rkc2001

    Pure ministry is simply sharing your life, your life with God to others in everyday situations. Regarding church setting ministry I am ready to pull the plug on being an associate pastor. I’ve been an assistant for the last 9 years. I’ve always been involved in teaching and preaching and served in the local church. but Ive never been on staff, never been paid, and in many ways, I feel that as a lay minister who works a full time 50-60 hour work week in Silicon Valley, I’ve never truly been supported or invested in by the local church I attend because they have no money at all, that’s another story. For years I dedicated 8-10 hours a week in order to preach the midweek service or backup on Sunday… This was my weekends and evenings, but no more. My job has become more demanding and as a result I must prioritize my life and step down from my pastor position. Since I am stepping down, it is an easy decision to leave the church I’ve been at for many years and explore what God has next for me. Im a corporate trainer, I get paid to speak and teach on high tech subjects, but preaching has always been my passion and in many ways it always will be. I am a little bitter that I signed up for such punishment, but also a little wiser and looking with hope to the next opportunity that The Lord has me, as an ordained minister or not! one thing is sure, I m looking for a new church, new inspiration and a little more time and relief from the stress of simply having the pastor title and no time to operate within it.

  • disqus_5T2jXBEN10

    Paul reminds us in 1 corinthians 7:29 “the time is short”, yes brothers the time is short, the times are evil, this whole satisfied with life and vocation attitude is worldly. As the redeemed of Lord we have eternal life, let us keep our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith and run with endurance to finish the race and receive the prize that is laid up for us in heaven, he who promised is faithful.

    In the name of Jesus,

    Bro DAN

  • Kim

    What about Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:18?
    18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

    None of the Apostles ever charged to preach and they all had other jobs: Paul was a tent maker and Peter a fisher. Those guys were hand picked by Christ himself and they never asked for a dime. Why should we think that we are better than them and expect to receive money?

    • Daniel Carlson

      First, Kim, the world was different during the time of the Apostles. Paul could successfully make tents and go to the synagogues to preach because they weren’t expected to put in 55+ hours a week into their church. Today we have churches where one single pastor may put in a full work week or more, plus have a family, and simply cannot put more time into working a job that pays.

      If I had my way, I would solely devoted to preaching, teaching, and administering the sacraments and then I would have a job to support what I do – things like shut-in visits, dealing with the needy and the elderly, etc would be handled by volunteers in the congregation. But that’s just not the way it is. Most people in our nation today are satisfied with showing up once a week for an hour and then not giving church a 2nd thought OR showing up for church once a quarter, or only on special holidays. You can blame it on the churches, you can blame it on the pastors, or you can blame it on sinful human nature – I blame it on sinful human nature.

      Second, what does 1 Timothy 5:17-18 say regarding ‘elders’ or those who preach and teach? Being a “worker priest” or a pastor who works outside of the church for a living and gives his services free in the church isn’t some meritorious act or some mandate (and it doesn’t make better pastors). If conditions and circumstances demand it, then do it to the best of your ability, but if not, then do whatever it is you do to the best of your ability.

      by the way, Kim, I’m a pastor at 2 churches – full time ministry at both. I make less money than just about every other pastor in my area who serves as one pastor at an average sized church. I CAN’T get another job at this point. I’m considering it; I’m considering telling one of my churches to simply stop paying me (since they rarely pay me on time anyway and they’re struggling financially) and the 30 or so hours I put into that church I’ll devote to a regular job.

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  • steve

    Thanks Bo a great article. I can truly understand why many pastors leave ministry. I have been a pastor for about 35 years and I have many days when I want to give up. It is God’s call that keeps me going. Thanks for your web site. I am glad I found it!

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  • DaleH

    I stumbled across this blog. I am sitting in my office with a signed resignation on my lap, wondering what I ever did to get here.
    I have not been promiscuous, or a thief, nor have I caused ill will in this community. I have held the line on the Word, and we started a year ago with 27 people, and we are knocking on 100 right now. I visit regularly and weekly. We have had 14 conversions since I started, and 11 new member additions since Jan 1st.
    No. I am called into question because I fed a family some sandwiches when they showed up at our VBS hungry. I am called into question because I asked why a new member was not being allowed to sing on our worship team, but instead has to wait weeks for approval by a non-attending Board member. I am called into question because I dare to teach on sexual purity, and therefore I am offending a ‘long-term’ family in our church who has a homosexual son. I dare not get a bottle of water from the fridge that is meant for someone who may never show up, and I dare not drink coffee from a pot paid for by the women’s ministry. I make lower-than-poverty wages, work 80-100 hours per week, have no benefits, and have to argue for every penny of reimbursement owed to me by a legal contract. I see millionaires who pass me by, holding me accountable for every minute of my day, but I take home less than $2000/month to a family of six. My wife is disrespected and my children are maligned, but we have done 7 days per week for one year, with no time off. We clean, cook, wash dishes, teach, you name it. Why? Because no one will step up.
    I have now been told that I am not to run the air conditioner in my office, and it is over 100 degrees in here.
    And you wonder why ministers don’t stay? All I have wanted was to preach the gospel, and this is not even close to a fair life. It taxes my marriage and my relationships with children, and it steals time with them in formative years.
    Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Daniel Golightly

      That’s absurd!!! And what’s sad is that if you quit someone else will stand up & do the ministry & the same douchebags now will say how thankful they are. He. Eventually treat them just as poorly, have them leave then wonder why they can’t get good help these days. I wish the best for you & your #1 ministry is your family.

  • Daniel Golightly

    I think this is the problem with paid full time ministry. I understand the bible allows it but the advice that Paul gives I think is something to consider. I also think that the extent which we have expanded what is & is not paid full time ministry is what has added to the consumeristic nature of the congregation do you think that God intended for churches to have the amount of paid, full time pastors. Paul states his justification for being paid for doing ministry, but turns it down for the purpose of having a better witness. I don’t think Jesus intended his bride to have full time Jr High associate pastor (real position). Or a full time worship pastor who is allowed to be paid as he leads countless volunteers to provide worship for a 1 hour slot on Sunday. I mean I saw one churh that had 25, full time secretaries???? The church was less than than 1,000 & eventually laid off all but 1. You can’t tell me there isn’t wasteful spending on payroll. So now we (unbiblically require) some one to go to a 2-4 year college, bible school, etc. Which forces them to look for a full time ministry job. Which if they leave/get fired from will now have to uproot there entire family & support network to find the next gig. Of if they do go back to the “civilian” work force they have this stigma. It also changes the way people view & treat you. At my previous small church I was the youth pastor for 4 years & for half of it I was not paid just a volunteer. I was laid off & began having some finical issues. I asked for the church if they could help me with my rent which was $300 (pretty cheap here). They did, & I greatly appreciated it. Because our Asc. Pastor was called to another church the pastor & I began to discuss me taking his pay in light of the fact that he was discipling me to be our next Asc. Pastor. The pay was a whopping $350 per month; not per week; PER MONTH. The moment I began getting paid I was expected to attend every church including a women’s retreat. I was even told that I should wash one of the church member’s car. As time progressed I eventually had to decline going to events b/c of my regular job. Then the snickers & whispers came flooding in. “Why are we paying a guy who isn’t going to this conference.” I even had a douchebag who was the church janitor that was so terrible at his job & how he interacted with people that the church had to hire a 2nd janitor to take care of the other part of the church that he couldn’t be trusted with. The church was about the size of a Starbucks coffee shop. During one of our church meetings that he would routines storm out in a hail of profanities he flat out said “I don’t see why we even pay you in the first place! You don’t do anything here.” My schedule at the church was the church’s youth pastors & did lock-ins & retreats every month; I was on the worship team & it’s backup leader. I also preached the main service on occasion & was in charge of arranging its midweek service. After having a year of this guys crap my personal car began showing it last legs of life. I knew I was going to need to get a car so I began moonlighting at another job. I was working 2 job & was fulfilling all my church duties. After saving up for a down payment I financed a car. The car was 5 years old & a scion XB, those shoe box looking things??? That’s when all the poor ppl at the church began to really gossip & snicker. Yes ppl I am scamming all of you & to show it I drive a toaster family sedan that is 5 years old. It just seems to me that when I was a volunteer both my church & even the non-believers at my work had more respect for me. It seemed I could do no wrong. But when I was given a monthly housing allowance of $350 per month. That is when I could do nothing right. I don’t know if it was the typical “2 year itch” or if it had to do with ppl thinking that now I owed them something. But things began to unravel so fast right as an ex-senior pastor & his cunt of a wife came in wanting to retake their leadership role at another church. Now they are the Asc Pastors & will soon take the senior pastor role… I wonder if the pastor salary of $1,200 a month for 10 hours of work has anything to do with it?

  • Manasseh

    I’m a Deacon,CarePastor,Alter worker,I’ve done it all,is topped short of seeking a Pastors Office,because of illness and the teaching of eschatology,you see,we started doing communion sparingly,needless to say attendance dropped,and a good many of our members have left,now I even attend sparingly sometimes once a month,I can’t seem to shake this feeling off,that there is no spirit left in me to attend,I want to serve but I’m no longer enthusiastic about it,what’s wrong with me?

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  • Destiny

    I have found that pastors are overworked because they are taking on tasks that they SHOULD not be taking on. You’re job as a pastor is to counsel and preach. You should not be doing administrative work or taking on the bulk of evangelism in a church. OTHER members who are gifted in those areas should be taking the lead. The church is a BODY not a business. We all have a place and a part and no ONE individual runs the show that’s why the Bible says leaders as in plural, more than one. The American church has gotten so far away from the original structure of the church it’s no wonder so many people are stepping down from their positions

  • D. Courtney Hill

    Hey great article and great comments as well. I’ve thought of attempting to write a book dealing with churches and pastor/staff issues. It seems to happen way too often- a pastor or staff member will walk into a meeting and be asked to resign immediately. I know of a church a couple years ago which met with their Pastor at 2 pm, Worship leader at 2:30 pm, and the Youth Pastor at 3:00 pm to dismiss them all on a Sunday afternoon. Hear them preach, teach, and lead in the morning and dismiss them that afternoon. And why? Well, the church had become disgruntled with the pastor and decided to clean house. The worship leader had been there for over a decade but he was standing with the pastor. The youth guy had been there less than a year and no indication had been given there were any problems when he was brought in, so he was blindsided. That same youth guy had just been forced out of a church where the pastor was corrupt and didn’t want anyone to hold him accountable, so the youth guy was out the door. Those kinds of experiences are the kind that will run someone out of a ministry position. As you say, it’s not always the church’s fault. But I’ve definitely seen this “outsiders” view of pastoral staff from many churches. I’m convinced, so long as the church views the pastoral staff as outsiders, it will be very difficult for them to lead the church, and it will also seem like nothing for the church to just fire them for whatever reason with little concern for their well-being. I think I have 2 possible solutions: 1. Churches need to focus more on hiring from within. Train up people to take these positions of leadership. I’ve seen it work. 2. The church needs to change their hearts toward pastoral staff members brought in from the outside. I also would suggest this: MUCH greater care and prayer needs to go into the selection of pastoral staff. The resume game is almost a joke today. How in the world have church bought into this I’ll never know. Get 50 resumes from total strangers and choose from them the person who fits your profile best??? That God sometimes blesses this process is purely a grace and is in no way an endorsement of the process.

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  • victory chapel of tiverton

    Truth is, this is why a pastor is called by God. It’s not a profession, a job, or a career, it’s a man that is burdened for the children of God..my pastor got sent out at the age of 21 with a wife of 20.. we will mark 10years in October.. 10..he had a beautiful family but most importantly he is a perfect example of a man of God who had truly been called to preach His word..Thank God for pastors who never quite. They will receive the crown.

  • Loves God

    Is it possible for someone who has never been a pastor, married to a pastor, or a pastors kid to comment here? First of all, I am shocked at some of the ways some of these pastors or leaders have been treated by their congregations. The church leaders should never have to struggle financially. They shouldn’t be
    idolized in the eyes of the members but they do deserve respect and support. I see everything on here from general disrespect and some members wanting to control the church to a pastors wife and son being murdered by a church member.(To the father/husband in that case, I am SO SORRY that happened to you) I will pray for you.
    Beyond that, may I state the situation from the other side…the congregation member who is NOT a high maintenance member, only once in 20 years calling the pastors home for prayer, only when my husband was in a car wreck in the
    middle of the night. I never met with him more than 5 times in all those years,
    because I don’t feel he owed me that. If I need prayer, I go to the Lord directly,
    or I get christian friends to pray with me. I never got offended over the carpet
    color, or if someone sat in “MY” seat. I certainly was not perfect but I loved my church and everyone there. I often could not wait to get to church, but that lessened over the years when my pastor started verbally abusing me. I could not
    understand why….at least not then. The Lord has revealed some things to me that makes it a little more understandable now. When I did meet with him, I realized later that he had shared my confidence with others in leadership. Never once was this meant to be shared with others. When my best friend died a couple years ago, this pastor actually got hold of her journals and read through them. He said so at the funeral. I happen to think that just because someone has died does not give anyone the right to read what was once their personal thoughts and prayers. If I had known he was going to do something like that, I would have taken them out and burned them. It seems nothing is too confidential
    in his eyes. I was not hiding some deep dark sin that needed to be exposed. I simply asked some questions on things I was not clear on and really
    thought he could be trusted to keep my confidence. After many years God told me to leave and wipe the dust off my feet so I did. I was sad but I listened.
    When I finally found another local church that I felt was okay, I started attending.
    The pastor, after several weeks, verbally falsely accused me from his pulpit and then when I tried to meet with him, he would not give me even five minutes of his time. He said he was too busy. When he accepted my email instead, he replied that I was not to touch Gods annointed. That was his reply!! After prayer, I feel the first pastor contacted him and told him something about me and the second pastor automatically believed him. Now you see not all church divisions and problems are caused by the members of the church. I am now in a small fellowship and attend when I can. I have not walked away from God. I am not backslidden. I am in Gods hands and He has a great plan for my and my families
    life. Yet I heard from someone in my first church that it was implied that people that left that church more or less had to be backslidden. REALLY????
    There are people that are in church every week and every service that are backslidden. Doing things out of obligation ONLY does not count. Man looks at
    the appearance, but God looks at the HEART!!!

    • Sa Smi

      Sorry for the hurt you experienced. I have also experienced ‘evil’ done/said to me by ‘pastors’. I am a lay person. I have done ministry (not paid). Some pastors do evil to their parishioners.

  • Minister NaTasha

    I’m not a Pastor, but I am a licensed minister. As a preacher of the gospel what has been discouraging to me is the fact that we are judged when we express our emotions. Let me explain. I just turned. 29, I’ve been preaching for 11 years. My mom just passed away Sunday, April 21, 2013 at the young age of 58. I understand as a preacher and leader I’m held to a higher standard, however I’m human, therefore I hurt, cry, get angry, etc. why are we judged so harshly. Yes, trying to cope with my mothers transition has been difficult. I love The Lord with my all, I love serving and living for Him. I love to preach. Thank you.

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  • Dr. Watson

    I am what can be called an ex-pastor. My pastoral years were the worst years of my ministerial life. Stress, long hours, low, low pay, and a host of other issues are part of the causes as to why I’m no longer in ministry. My whole academic preparation has been centered around ministry. Since I now have a divorce, (she divorced me), in my background, no church will look twice at me, regardless of how “qualified” I may be. I have applied to over twenty churches in the past two years, and every one of them have rejected me. Therefore, I have had to totally re-create myself in order to survive. I now work in the pharmaceutical industry. This is not my calling, but at least this industry does not discriminate against me due to a divorce in my background. I rarely attend church anymore, and I have not been a member of a church since 2011. I know that the behind-the-scene politics are the same. I would love to teach at a seminary, but I know that once they conduct that horrid background check and see that divorce pop up, it’s all over and the disappointment continues. I am so distraught about how my ministerial life has gone. I have so much to share to the world. The problem is that I have no one to tell it to. This is such a hurtful thing to ponder, and I try not to think about it. Is there hope for me? I just don’t know anymore.

  • David

    What are the top 3 ways I can show support for my pastor?

  • John Tigert

    Pastors, Churches of denominations are to fail. One can not serve two masters.
    There is only one GOD and one way. If it is beleived that Babtist, Catholics, Presbitarians, Mormons, Jehovahs Witness, and all other denominations preach a gospil, which one measures up to the word of GOD? If God gave us commandments to fallow, which of the 10 commands are we to fallow? All of them or just the special ones?

  • nancy Alfred

    Jim asked me if we could be back together this morning. Of course I said yes. Thanks to you Esango priest , thanks to the spirits, thank you God. I cannot thank you enough Esango for bringing him back into my life. I didn’t think it was never gonna be possible possible after all i did to him, I had lost my hope and most of any little faith that I had to begin with, but thanks to you, I have my love and my life back. Thank you. God bless you many many times over for all the help you give to people, you have a beautiful gift to humanity, his email is esangopriest@gmail.com. contact him on relationship or life issues.

  • RDM

    I’m not a pastor, I’m a director of worship (although I have responsibilities that are pastoral in nature, so I thought my situation may apply). I made the transition into “full-time vocational ministry” just 6 months ago. The four previous years I served part-tiime as a worship leader/music director at two churches (10-15 hours weekly), while I worked a full-time position in Special Ed. So while I’m only 6 months into “full-time”, my journey began nearly 20 years ago when I God got a hold of my life in the middle of high school. At that time, I thought the trajectory of my life was full-time ministry. Long story short, my trajectory was rerouted for a number of years (with no expectation to reconsider), until about four and half years ago when I took a position as a part-time worship leader in a tiny church (30 people or so).

    The last four years or so I felt the “tension” of balancing both worlds. I’m married with three children, my wife works full-time, and so I began to wrestle/pray as to whether or not I was “called” to full-time ministry – (something I never thought I would even consider based on my history). While I was hesitant to consider “full-time ministry”, I couldn’t deny that God was at work in my life during these years. He used my involvement on a part-time basis in ministry as a catalyst to set me free in many areas and reveal the gospel in a whole new light.

    In 2012 God lead me to a church that was new, growing and in need of a part-time worship leader. After serving for a year part-time, I began to explore the idea of coming on full-time with the lead pastor. This was long process. I felt pulled in two directions and so I thought that if I would be able to give more time and energy to the just the church, it may alleviate some of the “tension” of balance — (I can hear you chuckle, yes, I was naive).

    My “gifting” is definitely in music (leading worship through song), but in order to come on full-time I had to be willing to be a utility-guy (wear several other hats) – I’m a hard worker and team player, so this seemed like a “no-brainer”. The church I’m employed at is a church plant (almost three years old) and so the thought of pouring time and energy into a new, growing ministry (that I was already giving much time/energy as a part-time vocational guy), sounded attractive.

    I’m no youngster (36 years old) — I’ve experienced a lot of wounds over the years related to the church, but God has shown up in a big way in my life and has taught me much in the way of grace. So, I anticipated bumps in the road, I counted on a time of transition to learn all my “new” various roles (kids min. coordinator, volunteer coordinator, Sunday morning director, oversight of nursery coordinator, small group leader, visual arts liaison, & community/mercy coordinator – in addition to music).

    About a month and a half into my new job, I felt so overwhelmed that I decided to go to counseling. I had never sought professional counseling (although I considered it in other seasons of life), but the world of “ministry” was unlike anything I had yet to experience (and my greatest fear in regards to “ministry” is that my life would implode — yes, I have seen that happen). All of a sudden, my boss was my pastor and my friend — the lines were all blurred. In my old job, I understood the boundaries, quickly I felt lost — but who could I talk to other than my wife and what was wrong with me? That’s why I went to a counselor.

    The last 4.5 months have been hard. I have had to look deep into my heart and see myself for who I really am. I always considered myself very “self-aware” — two months into this new job, I was unsure if I knew myself at all. This difficult season has lead to a level of honestly and transparency in my life like never before (for that I am thankful!).

    For a time I did not tell my pastor/boss that I was in counseling – I felt embarrassment/shame. I have since communicated all of this and let me say, he is a fantastic guy. In about a weeks time I told him that my marriage was on life-support, that I was questioning my “calling” into ministry and that some of my theological views may differ from the position of our church — he met me with such grace.

    While I am grateful for his graciousness (and continue to be), I’m still wrestling inwardly with whether or not “ministry” is a “fit”? I feel it on a conscious level (hard to explain) — I love our people (most of them) and I think there is a lot that is healthy about our church. But I can’t seem to settle in my heart whether or not “ministry” is a long term fit.

    Is 6 months time enough to know?

    If I stay in ministry, do I need to find a position that is geared more towards my gifting(s)? (my current role seems to be too much for me to do well).

    Is what I am experiencing normal — “part of the transition”?

    What’s beautiful is how God has showed up in all of this. Regardless of “ministry” or not, I continue to see Jesus make himself known in my life. I don’t “need” ministry to feel like I can impact the kingdom — whether I work for the church, a school or wherever, I desire to live a life that displays the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I just want to invite people to journey with me. To discover the Father as expressed in his son Jesus. To know that God is for us! I long for other people to know this and so I thought I would flourish in “full-time” ministry — but instead I have really struggled immensely.

    I know this is a lot. I wrestle with this everyday. I feel like I need to find a resolution to either persevere through this transition or decide to move on.

    Any help or insights you could offer would be welcomed. Thanks!

  • Jason

    Can you please tell us where the statistics are coming from? How is this information gathered? I am not questioning the data. Just want to be informed. 🙂

    • Jason, thanks for the comment. You’ll notice at the end of the article there is a link to the credited source. Thanks.

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  • Tired of the wolves.

    One of the biggest reasons pastors leave the ministry? Toxic churches and parishioners that attack the pastor and family through slander and libel. And the “good” parishioners that sit silently by and allow it to happen.

  • pJimmy

    I have been a licensed senior pastor for over 20 years and NEVER have been paid. I have been shot at, kids hurt, CPS/police falsely called on us, my life threatened, property stolen and destroyed, slandered, sheep stolen… and that was from people I helped.

    It’s called welcome to the ministry!

    I really have an issue with people who say they are in ministry, play the game and are not willing to stand up for what they know is true. …is there a cost? Absolutely. I have NEVER had it as bad as some of my brethren who have truly suffered for their faith.

    We should all be grateful for that. You will never find someone who is grateful and depressed at the same time.

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  • rmartin1

    Scripture says God chooses the base things of this world to confound the wise so I have always took that to mean the we in the church are the worst of people,(try preaching that at First Baptist anywhere) What I tell my children who have been negatively impacted by my 31 years in ministry is we must always remember they are the still church for whom Christ died love them and keep your guard up. Thank you Mr. Lane for the article it was very good yet sad. To those in the comments below who have been hurt by the church I would recommend a book call Crucified by Christians by Gene Edwards. It was a great comfort to me when the deacon in whose family grave plot we buried our child a short time later had me fired from the church because I would not ordain him as a minister because he had a drinking problem. God bless each and everyone of you who are serving the Lord in or out of the walls! Keep the faith, love the church Pastor Randy

  • Ernesto Bermudez

    I’m pastorin in two churches, one for almost 14 years and the other one for 6 years. Now I have the chance to merge them together and right here is when I realized nobody wants to walk the extra mile or make adjustments in their schedule. It’s so hard to see my leaders walking away from me, excuses: it’s too far, my wife doesn’t want to move, I don’t like that town and do on and so forth. I’m 61 and really feel so disappointed. Thanks

  • Lavender47

    Happy to report I’ve found a sweet church where the love of the Lord is practiced and shared! I am blessed!

  • Sophia Anne Wise

    The rich apostates certainly aren’t underpaid. I trust The Lord. I trust no man called “Pastor” anymore. The question is, which ones of them ARE NOT wolves in sheeps clothes?

  • Jaria Jesohn Valtierra

    Pastors are unappreciated plain and simple.

  • I am sure we can all agree Paul had some hard times but he still counted it “all joy” to serve God. We are not fighting they people, the culture, the community, we are fighting Satan… Stay strong and serve our Lord, whether it is full-time, part-time, staff, or layman… the title does not matter. To often we blame the church, the deacon, the staff; let’s blame, Satan and his sin and fight him. Praying for all who have struggled. I know it is hard been there, done that and doing that now. The fight is hard sometimes… But God is good, all the time

  • Chris

    I’m taking a nation wide poll. The survey data the above cites is what I’m trying to update (those figures are +20 yrs old, 1989 i believe.) If you are/were a pastor, take the poll if you haven’t and help me with a similar vision as this author
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ReTpYsuxlG8I-Ur2IbBRKFjXBCtz54yP2tWkd9j6GnY/viewform
    Here’s the link.

    • Chris, thanks for your interest in the topic. We’ve actually just completed an updated survey on this material as well. You are correct, most of this material is dated (though spanning from the late 80 to early 2000s). We’re compiling our findings right now and the material should be available to the public within the next several weeks. Thanks again for your interest and we’d love to hear what sort of data you gather as well.

  • Will

    This problem is layers deep. Many are not called by God in the first place, but are drawn to a career track track that seems attractive thanks to our corporate model of church and the rise of the celebrity, media-driven pastor. The reality that they are “competing” with countless other clone churches in a given area makes “success” (using the secular lingo) a lot harder. Nobody even knows what church is supposed to be as seminaries crank out men and women who are driven by cultural relevance rather than the faithful and unsexy exposition of Scripture week after week. Congregations have been replaced with audiences and they are bored easily. The three rings down the street may offer a more entertaining line up and pastors are in a constant state of having to be hipper, funnier, hotter and better than the rest—an exhausting thing. Also, with church discipline non-existent in most churches or dysfunctional, resistance to biblical handling of things can create a war zone in a church, depleting the energies and strength of good people who really are in ministry for the right reasons. The whole evangelical scene is apocalyptic after decades of abandoning sound doctrine in favor of man-centered approaches. No wonder many are leaving.

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  • Douglas Love

    I left pastoral vocational ministry in 2007 after 28 years. It was done with some regrets as we closed down our church plant at the same time. HOWEVER in the ensuing years I’ve discovered a number of truths:

    1. The western church system set me up for failure.
    2. My family suffered greatly.
    3. I can do more effective ministry in the context of the marketplace (I started my own business).
    4. God’s love has ZERO to do with what I do, and 100% to do with Who He is.
    5. I am freer, happier, more alive (John 10:10) today than I have ever been.
    6. I love my local church but I very happy living on the fringes of it.

  • Neil Cole and Alan Hirsch freed me from this trap…I moved our church to an organic model and the work is now delegated to many. I take no salary and work….I worked for years prior to entering ministry and feel what I’m doing now is the future. We had better start preparing our young men (and women) for the future…

  • angelicGrace

    I couldn’t agree more about the pastors wives commentary and the depression. We’ve only officially been in ministry a year (paid). Though we served as the previous children’s directors right and left hand for 8 years before my husband was hire as her replacement a year ago. Since he has been hired I’ve watched people I once called dear friends slip away and become venomous towards us. While my husband is content in having found his calling, I’m not. I am painfully lonely in this journey outside of him and two dear friends I can talk to. Its enough that I’ve turned in my notice (I also work at our church as a administrator) and have gone back to university part-time to change careers entirely.

  • Youthguy

    I have been in church all my life and began in ministry about 12 years ago but have recently left. After seeing how things work in 2 different churches, I was very disapointed. The secret meetings, the non-transparency of committees, pride, mishandling of church members issues all left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It looked nothing like a new testament church. It seems everybody is out for themselves and the love of Christ was lost in translation. Now I just teach a Sunday School class and dont want anything to do with committee membership or any position that deals with the affairs of the church. I would rather be on the lawnmowing team and leave the rest to the powers that be. I support my new Pastor at my new church, and text him encouraging words often as well as talk to him. Not about church stuff, just as one human being to another.

  • Karol

    My husband and I ran into several problems and judgements with the other churches in the city we pastored in. The other churches told us to watch our backs, and they called people in our congregation to tell them not to come to our church. The “other” churches were denominational and we were non denominational. Even though people were getting healed and set free, the other churches did not like this. We quit and went on the road for Jesus….. still “on the road”.

  • rejoice1

    My prayers for fellow leaders who are burned-out or have quit pastorates. It’s not always a lack of courage, or conviction that causes many to leave the pulpit. Know that Papa God is faithful, has not stopped loving you and there is no condemnation. May he refresh you, guide you, and let you know the deep love he has for you as his son.

  • Jack Wellman

    I am a bi-vocational pastor that works since the church is so small they can’t pay me (but that’s fine). Churches are a lot like human beings; they are born, they live, they thrive, and then the die and that’s okay; it’s not the end of the world but here is a list of reasons that it might be time for the pastor to leave the church based upon apathy; when the church body is becoming indifferent about anything and everything; when members stop attending, when they stop giving, when they stop note taking, when they stop evangelizing, when they stop serving, when they stop all ministries, when they are unresponsive, when staff, elders, deacons, and volunteers stop doing their jobs, when the church building is no longer being taken care of and no one cares enough to do anything about it, when no one cleans or maintains the church building or property, when the fellowship hall is only used for families giving parties and as a second home but no one cleans up after their mess, when the church is shrinking, when the church is in debt, when your family is being attacked, when morality and sinful activities predominate, and when church members refuse to be disciplined according to the biblical model. This is what I am experiencing at present. It is a hard place to be.

  • John Crowe

    I think there are several layers to this problem.

    1. Research has found that today’s clergy have more stress and less support than the previous generation of pastors who had far less stress and far more support.

    2. There is some truth in an article that I read online which said that the health of many pastors reflects the health of a church.

    3. Many clergy lack a theology of personal stewardship of one’s health and that it is ok to take care of oneself.

    4. The unrealistic expectations of churches who expect pastors to be so involved in church work that the pastor’s spouse and children have to fend for themselves.

    5. Poor boundaries of some clergy and laity along with codependency issues.

    6. Walking on eggshells around church bullies while other in the church get beat up.

    7. What I like to call Burger King consumerism where it is basically “have it your way”
    Christianity and if you don’t get it your way, problems result.

    8. Hyper individualism which leads to a “me and Jesus have our own thing going” outlook that does not view the church as the body of Christ and not a bunch of lone rangers.

    9. Too much focus on gaining numbers in the pews and offerings in the plates with the sacrifice of discipleship of people into a community of faith as the body of Christ.

    10. The business model is killing churches and abusing clergy as the book Clergy Killers points out.

    11. Churches are theologically underfunded especially in the area of Ecclesiology (teaching about the church) and over analyzed by family systems theory without any spiritual power.

    There are several links that I’d like to share.

    1. Triage & ER Care for Clergy page with ministries listed by state
    for hurting clergy.

    http://bachdevelopment.com/bach2c.html

    2. Clergy Health Research and Reports.

    http://bachdevelopment.com/bach778.html

    3. A page with a section of articles for clergy and their families dealing
    with various clergy and parsonage family health issues. Scroll down the page to
    B. Clergy and Families.

    http://bachdevelopment.com/bach16.html

    4. The role of doctrine for developing healthy churches.

    http://bachdevelopment.com/bach77.html

  • This information is not shocking to me at all. I believe over 99.999% of those who start churches are doing it with the wrong motives. Status, power, money & control motivate many who are in full time pastoral ministry, because if it were about truly serving or ministering to the lost, there would be no need for a store front church on every corner or block. #BeChosen #NotJustCalled

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  • Henry Gomez

    The reason many paid mercenaries of doctrine are quitting institutional church and joining simple church, with no pay, is because serving in institutional church, with pay, burnt them out. The reason they are burnt-out is because they were taught doctrine and theology but were not taught to rely on their inexhaustible teacher the Holy Spirit who lives in all believers. They were taught the arrogance of hierarchy in opposition to Jesus who taught call no man Rabbi, for He is our only true teacher, all other teachers are unauthorized substitutes. They studied ecclesiology when they should have learned how to turn the other cheek.

  • RHarris

    It seems to me that men of faith are not letting the Bible speak for itself. Men and women today seem to be more people pleasing, politicaly correct, and preach more feel good sermons. I mean, why did Jesus Christ always go the opposite way from the way of society? I mean, why does it say in 2 Timothy 3:12-13: “In fact, everyone (not some but everyone-my input) who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” And, in Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” (Revelation 12:97-12 War in heaven; Revelation 12:13-13-13:1a.) As people of faith we seem to forget what the breath of life is all about. In John 20:19-23 we read 19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this,He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

  • Bob Douglas

    I stopped getting a paycheck from a church as “their pastor” back in 1994. I have never stopped being in the ministry. I have served as “pastor” to stone workers, wood workers, students, teachers, customers, co-workers, SEVERAL CONGREGATIONS (who already HAD paid pastors and could not afford another) and MANY pastors and church leaders. I served 20 years as a paid pastor in several states and I have served as an “unpaid” pastor for another 20 years. God called me to be faithful to Him…not just to preach.

  • Mark George

    After a 12 year Quit, I’ve been back in the pastorate for a little over a year now. Oh the joy of the call!! When I quit, I thought I’d NEVER be back, nor did I want to even think about it. But now, I can’t imagine why my “wilderness” had to last so long. Thank you Jesus for the grace to return and for the joy of the journey!!

  • whiteout

    I pastored in Idaho for 4.5 years. No pay. Constant discontentment. Constant challenge to authority. Constant mocking and belittling. Finally shut it down last spring. I obviously was not up to the task. Now..I do my work (from home) watch movies, read my Bible and try to avoid running into any former parishioners. What an ugly, traumatic season.

  • MrJohn

    This man holds the longest successful Christian Religion Servantship in today’s ‘last days’ mentioned in the bible.

  • Truth be Trold

    What you really need to look at is, IF they were truly called to ministry in the first place.
    I think many people haven’t been called to ministry, but want to feel important, looked up to, and decide to go into ministry as a pastor when in fact they ARE NOT called and are NOT pastor material at all. The same reason we have so many failed divorces.

    People need to be honest with themselves and realize that God can use you right where you are in your town, or even just right in your own home.
    Being a pastor is NOT an easy thing nor and easy calling. Too many people want to get into it for the WRONG REASONS and not realize it takes someone who’s been truly called by Christ in their spirit to do it.

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  • MichaelWH

    I have been in “the ministry” for 14 years. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world (good, bad, or the many ugly ones). God has used it to mold me and shape me and my wife. However, I left 1 year ago after serving in a very abusive situation for 2.5 years.
    Not all my time was negative, I witnessed, experienced, and partook in Gods Kingdom advancement. At times, I was ridiculed and ran out of time for simply standing up to racism (people against bi-racial couples).
    I served in one church 2x for a combination of 9+ years and it was the most peaceful of the 3 churches in which I served. However, it was the same old same old each year and expecting different results. That church is barely holding on and has dwindled greatly.
    I came to this site many times looking for answers, comfort, and comradery …after all “misery loves company”. lol I have found some BUT also have been reminded by the ridiculous self-righteous attitude of some others why I am not in “the ministry” any longer.
    Honestly, I am very thankful that God has provided me a job that provides more income than I ever made in the ministry although I began here at the bottom of the totem pole. I am also very grateful that I now have more time to spend with my lovely wife and daughters than I ever could’ve had while in “the ministry”.
    Praying that God will continue to help me adjust and show me where, when, and how to use my gifts to advance His Kingdom and not the Kingdom of Churchianity!

  • I spent 20 years in Church, calling myself a born-again, spirit-filled, evangelical, tongue-talking, faith-walking, Pentecostal Christian. After 20 years I became a Messianic Jewish Believer and I did that for 8 years. So, after 28 years in organized religion, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the main lessons I learned from that experience was how not to do it. Pastors are over taxed because they choose to be the focal point of their assembly. It’s not about them, sadly many Pastors are unwilling to share their duties with other congregants. What I mean by that is many Pastors are ignorant of the fact that in their assemblies are the other four parts, or five parts of the Five Fold ministry. Yes, there are Prophets, Pastors, Apostles, Evangelists and Teachers sitting in our assemblies, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade doing nothing but pay the Pastor to do the work that they should have been trained up to do. Unfortunately for everyone in the assembly, many congregants never realise their true potential. The Pastor is NOT responsible to do everything. EVERYONE should be involved in the ministry, yes, that includes our children.

    No one knows what God really wants a Congregation to look like because we have so much tradition involved in our Church meetings. God only knows how it ever got like this. It NEVER worked, nor will it ever. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that God commanded any man to teach, preach, rant and rave for an hour or more, every week, to a group of converted believers. If we look at the Temple in Israel, the only reason a person went there was to make their life right with God, if they had broken one of His Commandments. There were also times when the Word was read.

    This is the problem I see with modern day Pastors and their congregations: It’s the converted speaking to the converted. There is little continuity in the weekly message. It’s like Forrest Gump, you never know what you’re gonna get. Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes, including the Pastor. We can be sincerely desiring a move of God, but our approach is sincerely wrong.

    Here is a Blueprint for a successful ministry: Pastor, let go and let God. Stop trying to do everything yourself. Become a facilitator. Stop preaching long winded messages. It’s just your opinion you’re preaching or teaching, so keep it short, 6 to 10 minutes, no more than that. The average attention span of a human being is only 6 minutes. Your lengthy message is too long and boring, stop doing that, it will get you nowhere, fast. Don’t take up tithes or offerings, yes, you get a job and start working for the bread you eat. If you have many in the congregation who are bringing their gifting and talents, there is no need for you to be involved in it full time. Finally, have the children actively involved in ALL aspects of your meetings, don’t ship them off to Sunday school, or in a corner, coloring pictures. If you can’t keep the attention of your children, how do you think you’ll keep the attention of the adults?

    I followed this model with a group of people and we all had so much FUN!!! Yes, I said fun! One woman who seldom set foot in any type of Church said she enjoyed our gathering more than going out for a beer. Most of the people in this group were people who had never attended a Church. If you want help with getting your Congregation on track, you can contact me. paulmoore@yourguidetoahappylife.com

    PS: YOU DO NOT NEED BIBLE SCHOOL GRADUATES TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CONGREGATION. SOME OF THE MOST HOLY AND BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE HAVE NEVER STEPPED FOOT INSIDE A CHURCH!

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  • Sa Smi

    (1) If you will read old testament, to be a priest-one had to be 30 years old. This is why Jesus waited till He was 30 to officially start His ministry.
    (2) The ministry worker retirement age was 50 years old.
    I wonder if pastors/ministers in this day and age did that- would there be less burnout? Just wondering.

  • Justin

    I know many Pastors that are experiencing “burnout” in the ministry, and I realize that the potential for burnout is very real. What is the nature of this burnout? What causes Pastors who have been in the ministry to burnout? I am convinced that the answer lies in focusing too much on the people, and not enough on God. As Pastors, we must realize that we are first and foremost Christians, living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and we are called to be faithful to Him, and not the people. However, this does not mean that we are not to love and serve the people, but there comes a balance. I am convinced that the expectations that Pastors place on themselves are expectations that the congregation has not put on them. Learn the power of saying “no” and do not always be a “yes man.” I have served in the Pastorate for ten years, and I have found this to work for me. Focus on God, shepherd your family and also your people, but set boundaries for yourself. Many fear that they will be booted out of the church if they set boundaries, but if that is the case, so be it, if it involves your spiritual health, and the health of your own family that is most important.

  • Glenn Linthicum

    I was a local pastor for 17 years at my last church. Averaged 12-17 funerals for first twelve years and 10+ becoming infirmed and/or moving away each year. Spent time in visiting church members but also cultivating identity with unchurched, resulting in 8-15 new believer baptisms each year. However several “gossips” whom the Deacon body declined to address, successfully chased away numerous newcomers. Long hours and stress were leading me to plan a week vacation periodically during the year. At the same time I had accepted a denominational challenge to lead church to reach out to growing Hispanic population of community. During my last full year, I spent my day off each week for 5 months strengthening my skill in teaching English to this group. Several members complained about my working with “that” kind of people, a work that was measurably successful for the last four years. By the third time I overheard those comments, I was convinced that I should resign and heed God’s leading in developing an outreach through language missions.

    A three month effective date for my resignation was supported by Deacon body. They proceeded to recommend to church a love gift and support for the new work but a formerly active, but disgruntled member of influence returned and “hijacked” the business meeting and called for a vote to dismiss the pastor. He mentioned several issues which in fact had never ever been discussed warming the Deacon body or with the pastor. His and several others phone calls had ascertained the vote would go their way. “For the good of the church” he had said.

    The reality is that Bible study program today hardly exists, even though my own class had numbered 15+ each week. Worship attendance has plummeted even with the new pastor who has now been in place for several years. This church violated numerous scriptures and even the church articles of governance in forcing a dismissal. This action was a total blindside to myself and family, as well as the then active Deacon body. Church has lost credibility in community.

    Sadly such things as described here occur increasingly, driving the decline of faith’s influence and the closure of so many churches and the departure of so many good pastors. I authored two books out of 42 years experience: GOD’S GRACE AND THE FAILURE OF MAN’S GRACE and in 2013 — HIS WAY IS ALWAYS….EVERY DECISION, EVERY RELATIONSHIP AND EVERY CBURCH OS BEST WITH OBEDIENCE TO HIS WORD.

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  • Zeinab Preciouse

    And i saw how Dr AROMO reunited a marriage and brought the Husband of a woman back to her in just 24 hours..I believed it, because i never heard nor learnt anything about magic before..Nobody would have been able to convince me about magic spells, not until Dr.AROMO did it for me and restored my marriage of 8 years back to me and brought my wife back to me in the same 24 hours just as i read on the internet..i was really surprised and amazed when my husband came to my house and knelt down begging for my forgiveness and for me to accept him back.. I am indeed short of words, and i don’t know how much to express my gratitude to you Dr.AROMO you are indeed a God sent to me and my entire life and family.. he did his work just as he guaranteed me in 24 hours and it yielded a positive result to me and i was able to get my Husband back. right now my wife has falling so much in love with me and my kids like never before. This spell casting isn’t a joke but he opened up his eyes to see how much i love and needed him, i really don’t know how best to appreciate you Dr.AROMO for bringing joy into my life and family, and now i am a happy man once again.. here is his Email: dr.aromospelltemple@gmail.com you can whatsapp him on +2347064693371 dr.aromospelltemple@gmail.com +2347064693371.,

  • Zeinab Preciouse

    And i saw how Dr AROMO reunited a marriage and brought the Husband of a woman back to her in just 24 hours..I believed it, because i never heard nor learnt anything about magic before..Nobody would have been able to convince me about magic spells, not until Dr.AROMO did it for me and restored my marriage of 8 years back to me and brought my wife back to me in the same 24 hours just as i read on the internet..i was really surprised and amazed when my husband came to my house and knelt down begging for my forgiveness and for me to accept him back.. I am indeed short of words, and i don’t know how much to express my gratitude to you Dr.AROMO you are indeed a God sent to me and my entire life and family.. he did his work just as he guaranteed me in 24 hours and it yielded a positive result to me and i was able to get my Husband back. right now my wife has falling so much in love with me and my kids like never before. This spell casting isn’t a joke but he opened up his eyes to see how much i love and needed him, i really don’t know how best to appreciate you Dr.AROMO for bringing joy into my life and family, and now i am a happy man once again.. here is his Email: dr.aromospelltemple@gmail.com you can whatsapp him on +2347064693371 dr.aromospelltemple@gmail.com +2347064693371

  • mikkydee

    Having been in ministry over 35 years I have seen many of my personal associates leave the ministry in discouragement and pain. In honesty I have come close to the same on more than one occasion. An important aspect to embracing God’s call is to have the willingness to enter into the sufferings of Christ. There is certainly a price to be paid for serving God in the ministerial capacity. As Christ suffered the rejection, false accusation, envy, betrayal, and gossip for the path He walked, as a minister we must also be willing to shoulder dealing with the issues of broken people. Ministry is never something I would choose or stay in if it were simply a choice from what was easy or best for me. It is in fact the most difficult of tasks. Lack of gratitude and absence of loyalty are the scourge of our society. IF He has called me, my responsibility is to be spiritually full and be willing to make any sacrifices necessary to do His will. His job is to open doors no man can shut and to provide for my family. If you have found yourself broken and discouraged as a result of your service to Him and others, you must press into Him for strength and grace to weather the storm. Sometimes the path we are required to walk is beyond our capacity. Ahhh….but that is the opportunity to receive His power that can only be perfected in our weakness. The only way to make it through some of the heartbreak and discouragement is to stay full spiritually by time with Him and drawing upon His strength when yours is gone. My heart is out to all who have been burned and devastated in ministry. Press on toward the high calling my fellows. It is worth the cost

Bo Lane is a writer, filmmaker, and the founder of ExPastors.com, a resource to encourage pastors and leaders who have or are going through a break-up with the local church. He is married to Melissa and they have two children, Benjamin and Bella.