May 26, 2006

Death By Ministry

It seems every church planter and pastor in the blogosphere has posted or linked to Mark Driscoll's great post on his blog: Death By Ministry.

I have been thinking about it, and have a different slightly different take on the assumptions that actually undermine the suggestions made by Mark Driscoll

To start, here are some of the statistics he gives:
  • 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • 50% of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • 70% said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
Here are some of the problematic assumptions:
  1. Pastors are employees. Pastors are not employees, the church supports the pastor so they can do the work of ministry. Many churches assume they employ the pastor so they can tell the pastor what to do, and many church structures support this unbiblical model. A lot of churches under-pay or under-support their pastors so there is the added financial stress. This creates the problem that pastors feel they have to please their "employer" and so get involved in activities they are neither gifted or called to do. Some churches even expect the pastor to do "all" the ministry because "that is what we pay him/her for."
  2. Pastors are necessary. All right, this is somewhat true, but sometimes pastors think too highly of their role and necessity. "They can't do it without me!" There is the necessity for a leader, but the leader doesn't have to be the pastor. It is a faulty assumption to think that the leader has to be the Pastor.
  3. This is an emergency. Very few things are an emergency. Many pastors would do well to establish their personal list of values and then prioritze their lives around those core values. For instance, if spending time with God is a value, the pastor must put that into his/her schedule and show up; arranging everything else around that time.
  4. I have to find the time. Simply, you will never find the time, you must make the time!
These are just a few thoughts. Sometimes I think the church, and ministry, have become something they were never intended to become. Sometimes the pressures of ministry are self-inflicted and sometimes they are simply part of the systemic beast that has been created.

1 comment:

  1. AMEN! You know I pray so much for all you guys... because I've seen so many people get burnt out... and I see the warfare this place has... and I see the shoulders of my friends get heavy and I just want to help lighten the load...

    Add relationships, failed expectations of those around you... any degree of dishonesty or mistrust into the mix and well, moral is down.

    Know that you walked into a cooker Eric. DV is targeted because we are going to be so mighty for the kingdom. Satan just attacks and attacks and attacks. Don't be suprised to see a few fall (hopefully on their knees) every once in a while on staff. They are great men, but then again... they are only men.

    I get this vision every once in a while and its like a thermometer of prayer to me... I see Doug and Scott standing there with their arms raised in worship... and all of us under them praying and holding up their arms with our prayer... and as their arms get heavy... we have to pray harder... and if they get too low... we haven't done our job... to pray and support... so they can serve us. I just always want to be there to hold up all of you guys's arms. Clear as mud?