Statistics That Bring Shame to Churches

“I have some good news,” the elder said as he came out of the congregational meeting, “we just voted to ask you to serve as our pastor for a second year.” Then he added, “This time the vote was 100% in favour.”

“What was the percentage last year, when you first asked me to be your pastor?” I asked. The elder smiled and said, “Actually, it was only 51% in favour of you.”

Pastor and Mrs. Jack  Popjes & Valorie, starting 2nd year of ministry.

Pastor and Mrs. Jack Popjes & Valorie, starting 2nd year of ministry.

Whew! Was I ever glad that the elders were kind and loving enough to keep that statistic from me! It would have been hard to stand there and preach to a congregation when I knew almost half hadn’t really wanted my wife and me in that position. I was also glad that during the year my “approval rating” had gone up to 100% in spite of all the changes I was leading the church into, including a move to a different location and a building program.

That was over fifty years ago and today pastors are still vulnerable to what their congregations think of them and how they treat them. My wife and I were fortunate for several reasons. The elders board was encouraging, helpful, appreciative and backed us up when some congregational members made complaints about the many changes that were being made. We also knew that this pastoral service was only temporary—just three years to get some ministry experience before becoming cross-cultural missionaries.

Unfortunately, many churches are not treating their pastors the loving way my church treated me. They fail to encourage their pastors, do not show their appreciation, and have elders boards that leave the pastor dangling when he makes an unpopular decision. At least that is my take when I read the troubling statistics about evangelical church pastors, in LanceWitt’s book, Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul.

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in North America.
  • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
  • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
  • Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband entering the ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
  • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
  • Only one out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.(Research compiled from The Barna Group, Focus on the Family, Fuller Seminary, and the Institute of Church Leadership.)

These statistics would be prevented if all Christians, everywhere, obeyed the instructions given by the apostle Paul 2,000 years ago.

“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (MSG).

Okay, here’s where you stop reading and start praying for your pastors and plan to do something to honour them and show your appreciation. At least send them an encouraging email.

Really, take the next five minutes to do for your pastor what you are thinking about right now.