Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Scary stats on a lethal profession

  • Stress and conflicts cause the most physical and psychological harm to the health of pastors.
  • 35% of pastors will be fired or voted out of their churches.
  • 50% of those will leave pastoral ministry.
  • 85% of AG churches are under 100 people.

Those were a few of the stats presented at the ministers' area meeting today. I looked around the room. Many of the men and women have endured hard seasons and stuck it out. Other faces were missing, casualties who have slipped out of ministry in the past ten years.

"I was unprepared for the hostility of the church people," said the speaker, about his topic, Ministry: the Lethal Profession. "I thought if I liked them, they would like me."

Not only do we expect our pastors to tell us about Jesus; we also expect her/him to BE Jesus, perfect in every way. We dishonor them (and Christ) with unrealistic expectations and harsh criticism. If our bosses or employees treated us with the disrespect we show our spiritual leaders, there would be fireworks! (I'm not referring to ministers who steal or have moral failures; I'm talking about those who don't do things the way we'd like, aren't brilliant speakers or administrators, or who have lapses in judgment or congregational culture that irritates us.)

Our family is friends with missionaries and pastors around the world. My mom's often lamented the heartache of pastors who do their best and have to leave a church, pushed away by an ungracious congregation. Off they go, wounded but willing, into the next pulpit.

It's not "love your pastor" week or any specific occasion. But post-Valentines Day, it might be nice to give a warm handshake, slip a thank you note with a $20 bill to "take your husband/wife for coffee," or to show appreciation in a way that's comfortable for you. We're individuals, so we won't agree with everything that is said and done, but we can support honest efforts with kindness and prayers for our pastors (and church board members).

Most ministers, trying their best to serve God, hear more grumbling than gratitude. You and I could reverse the trend this month. What do you think?

Read more:
*Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9

*By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the
warning and built an ark to save his household. Hebrews 11:7 

*The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;  and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23 NKJV

*Just as the prophet Isaiah had written: 'Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. …'

This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. …  John announced: 'Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I'm not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!' Mark 1:2, 4, 7-8 NLT

*Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Matthew 28:18–20 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Lord God, help us to be as faithful as our ancestors of old who loved you and trusted your guidance within their lives and households. Amen.

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