Well for one, I do. I need a preacher. I need to hear of God’s goodness and His mercy. I need to hear of His love. I need to hear from a preacher. Preachers are called by God to be His mouthpiece and deliver His word to the world. God called preachers to spread his Word. Ministers are taught and given understanding of His word by God himself. They bear witness through the Spirit of God. We are to be humble and give all the glory to God. We are not to be prideful or boastful.
Preacher: Definition. A preacher is defined as a person who preaches. Some suitable synonyms for the term “preacher” are minister or servant. In the Bible a preacher is mentioned as a Pastor, Elder, Bishop, and Evangelist. Each of these usages describe a preacher, God’s servant, authorized by our LORD to minister unto the souls of men and women entrusted by God to the preacher.
In the 1980’s I decided to take a one year sabbatical (from being burnt out), which ended up in me taking over a decade away from the Lord and the ministry in which I backslid. I did nothing inappropriate while in the ministry, I was just burnt out and wanted some time off. I was young. I am now a lot older, wiser and tougher now and I am fulfilling my calling. Looking back it is hard for me to even believe that it happened, but it did. About a month ago, I was having a conversation with a minister friend who had stepped away from his calling recently, and I decided to do some research on the subject. Here is what I found.
There is a tragedy in the body of Christ as over 1500 ministers a month are leaving the ministry. What would cause such a pastor exodus to take place?
The top five conflict issues cited by pastors who left ministry were pastoral leadership style, church finances, and changes in worship style, staff relationships and building projects.
Believers and churches need to realize pastors are under attack. When criticism of pastors and the sin of griping and grumbling by parishioners and by well-meaning church leaders, the discouraged pastor will often decide to leave the ministry.
Here is research from Barna, Focus on the Family, FASICLD, and Fuller Seminary, and additional information from reviewing others’ research:
- Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- Four thousand new churches begin each year, but over seven thousand churches close.
- Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
- Eighty percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
- Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
- Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
- Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
- Eighty-five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. Ninety percent said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.
- Seventy percent felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.
Most statistics say that 60% to 80% of those who enter the ministry will not still be in it 10 years later, and only a fraction will stay in it as a lifetime career. I truly believe that pastors begin with a true call and the enthusiasm and the endurance of faith to make it, but something happens to derail their train of passion and love for the call to be a servant of the Lord and of the Body.
The problem is, as was possibly in my case, that we ministers sometimes lose focus on what the mission and central theme of the Church is. Sometimes, both pastors and parishioners miss the main theme of what The Body of Christ is about, which is to know and worship Christ as Lord, and share the message of the Gospel with the world. We sometimes in the Body and as ministers get caught up in all the “activities” associated within the church that we forget about the winning the lost, taking care of widows and orphans. As our focus in the Body and the ministry turns away from what we are called to do, doors are opened for conflict, burnout, and discouragement.
The result of the studies that I read is this: Ministers must be theologically sound. A pastor that is not theologically sound is like hiring a lawyer who never attended law school, and is not familiar at all with the law. Would you want them representing you? A pastor that is not theologically sound is like driving a car without a steering wheel or brakes, would you want to ride in that? We as ministers are to proclaim the truth of Christ, not our own inclinations, new ideas, or the latest trend in some off-beat theological thinking.
All these new waves of theology just confuse believers within the Body of Christ, and alienate those outside the Church. The Gospel is the Gospel and its message has not changed in over 2000 years. We as ministers and parishioners are called to serve and to protect believers from false doctrine, and to lead the lost to God’s Truth, Who is Christ Jesus. Most of these new ideas keep changing and conflicting, and they only last a few years until another theological fad comes into play. God’s truth remains the same and only our creative thinking keeps changing.
The results of the survey are that pastors face more than ever before. There are many who excellent pastors that are obeying their call. They pastor great churches, they are there for their wife and children as well as there for the Body. And, as a minister of the Gospel I must be aware of this so that I remain humble before God, and obedient to His Word. The statistics tell us that many more pastors have not learned to balance family and ministry or adequately deal with the immense struggles of the job. Thus, many are not able to lead their church where it needs to go because they have not been where they are seeking to lead others in growth or in spiritual formation.
If we do not have a desire to pursue the call of God, we have to ask ourselves, why are we in ministry? As ministers of the Gospel we should NEVER place our own needs and desires over that of the Church, or our Lord. He is the head of the Church. We are but humble servants, entrusted by our Lord to share a message, the message of the Cross. Let our focus be on the right target—that is, His Way and not ours! We are called to a higher purpose. We are not called to ourselves. We are to lead others to Him, not to our own glory or to gain attention to ourselves. More than anything, God has called pastors to have an intimate relationship with Him. That must come before the ministry, that must come before the congregation, and that must even come before the family. As you can plainly see from the statistics above, we literally cannot survive in the ministry without taking the time to be with the Lord.
So pray for your Pastor, lift him up, and encourage him. It’s a tough world out there, and a tough go for lots of ministers, Satan wants to bring down as many as he can, but God is faithful and the Body of Christ is strong and I believe that this current condition of ministers leaving the ministry will change as we begin to become faithful in our spiritual walks, consecrated in our thinking and humble in our service.