Here’s the introduction to a long article entitled, “Statistics on Pastors” by Dr. Richard J. Krejcir.
After over 18 years of researching pastoral trends and many of us being a pastor, we have found (this data is backed up by other studies) that pastors are in a dangerous occupation! We are perhaps the single most stressful and frustrating working profession, more than medical doctors, lawyers, politicians or cat groomers (hey they have claws). We found that over 70% of pastors are so stressed out and burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry (I only feel that way on Mondays). Thirty-five to forty percent of pastors actually do leave the ministry, most after only five years. On a personal note, out of the 12 senior pastors that I have served under directly, two have passed away, and four have left the ministry totally-that is, not only are they no longer in the pulpit, but they no longer even attend a church. And, I run into ex-pastors on a regular basis at conferences and speaking engagements; makes me wonder “what’s up with that,” as my kids would say.
I’m convinced that a large part of the problem is that the role of today’s pastor, which is, essentially, to run a “church” is not biblical. In the book Imagine Church, Mark Green is quoted to say,
“On the whole the overall mission strategy of the church worldwide is: To recruit the people of God to use some of their leisure-time to join the mission initiatives of church-paid workers.”
Last year, I heard a pastor preaching from John 21.15 – 17 (“feed my sheep”) say, “My job is to feed the sheep. Your job is to love the sheep, and one way to love the sheep is to volunteer to fill the jobs here on Sunday morning like teaching Sunday school and keeping the nursery.” As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.
Some pastors feel that all the ministry is on them, that only they can teach. One pastor told a Navigator-trained friend of mine who wanted to invest in some of the younger men in that church , “If anyone around here is going to teach the men, it’s me.” Most pastors do the lion’s share of visiting the sick, and the members contribute to that challenge by complaining if they’re visited by people in the church, but not the pastor.
When pastors and members lose sight of the fact that it’s the job of the church leaders (which includes a variety of gifted people (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) to “equip the people to do God’s work” (Ephesians 4.11, 12), then pastors will continue to burn out.
(Possibly to be continued!)