2. How healthy are pastors and their families?
At our 2006 Reform and Resurge Conference in Seattle, my good friend Pastor Darrin Patrick from The Journey in Saint Louis (www.journeyon.net) spoke frankly of the burden that pastoral ministry is. He presented the following statistics, which he gathered from such organizations as Barna (www.barna.org), Maranatha Life (www.maranathalife.com) and Focus on the Family (www.family.org).
- Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
- Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
- 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 percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
- Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
- The majority of pastors’ wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
1. Consider Mark Driscoll's "Death By Ministry" series for some ministry advice. Here are some scary stats from Session Two:
These challenging words are from Mark Dever's essay in Preaching the Cross.
God has always created his people by his Word. It's never been the other way around...
Consider the promotional mail pastors receive. The advertisements assure us success in ministry if we buy a particular product...Many people have an economic interest in making us feel guilty, inadequate, and unequipped. The way to avoid such a snare is by convincing ourselves of the priority and the sufficiency of the ministry of the Word adn to stake our whole service on that.
Do you see how important this is for the glory of God and the good of his people? Why, in so many of our churches, is it unusual to see someone giving their all to follow Christ, and growing in him? Is it because we allowed people who are in open unrepentant sin to continue on in our congregation, and so have diluted the witness, the fellowship? Why have we so neglected church discipline? Is it because we've not followed biblical instructions on leadership in the congregation, and we've also neglected the Bible's clear teaching on church discipline itself? Why have we neglected discipline? Is it because we don't teach about what church membership entails?
And why would that be? Because we haven't made it clear what it really means to be a Christian in the first place? And why would that be? Because we've misunderstood the gospel? How could that be? Because we've misunderstood the Bible? And why would that be the case? Because we've had pastors who - with the best of motives - have given themselves to everything in the world before giving themselves to the study and preaching of the Word! We've spent more time reading our email than our Bible.
Here's an excerpt from a Tozer daily devotional sent to me from a great friend:
Failure and Success: Quantity Rather Than Quality
But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness - God is witness. -1 Thessalonians 2:4-5
Time may show that one of the greatest weaknesses in our modern civilization has been the acceptance of quantity rather than quality as the goal after which to strive....
Christianity is resting under the blight of degraded values. And it all stems from a too-eager desire to impress, to gain fleeting attention, to appear well in comparison with some world-beater who happens for the time to have the ear or the eye of the public.
This is so foreign to the Scriptures that we wonder how Bible-loving Christians can be deceived by it. The Word of God ignores size and quantity and lays all its stress upon quality. Christ, more than any other man, was followed by the crowds, yet after giving them such help as they were able to receive, He quietly turned from them and deposited His enduring truths in the
breasts of His chosen 12....
Pastors and churches in our hectic times are harassed by the temptation to seek size at any cost and to secure by inflation what they cannot gain by legitimate growth. The mixed multitude cries for quantity and will not forgive a minister who insists upon solid values and permanence. Many a man of God is being subjected to cruel pressure by the ill-taught members of his flock who scorn his slow methods and demand quick results and a popular
following regardless of quality.
"Lord, I'm concerned this morning for pastors who are huge successes in Your eyes-because of their faithful, quality-oriented service-but who see themselves as failures because the 'quantity' doesn't seem to come. Open our eyes, Lord, to evaluate our success or failure by Your standards, and be encouraged. Amen."
Two incredible statements:
1. The Vatican news station has reported a visit from John Paul. "The Daily Mail" reports:
Service director Jarek Cielecki, a Polish priest and close friend of John Paul II, travelled to Poland after hearing an onlooker had photographed the image. Father Cielecki said he was convinced the picture showed the former pontiff.2. In response, "Shirley" claims,
"You can see the image of a person in the flames and I think it is the servant of God, Pope John Paul II," he said.
Each to their own. Don't condemn people's beliefs. If this "vision" is what gives some people comfort, then that is their business.Superstitious, Christ-less "faith" often begets real faith being pushed into the category of "comfort-myth." The truths of Scripture are not considered real knowledge, but reality-less stories to comfort the weak that are best left to personal opinion and preference.
The "Editor's Note" opening John Owen's Sin and Temptation; The Challenge to Personal Godliness has this:
Our times have been called the "me generation" because of the psychological cult of self-fulfillment and its accompanying narcisism. We live in a society that is deaf to a well-known psychologist's question, "Whatever happened to sin?" O Herbert Mowrer has written candidly about this:It feels loving to pronounce the downtrodden victims. But with the effort at compassion we may have stolen the great hope of recovery: repentance and responsibility.
"For several decades we psychologists looked upon the whole matter of sin adn moral accountability as a great incubus, and acclaimed our liberation from it as epoch making. But at length we have discovered that to be 'free' in this sense, that is to have the excuse of being 'sick' rather than sinful, is to court the danger of also being lost."
We are beginning to see once more that there can be no recovery of self-realization...without the recovery of moral responsibility.