I was reading this week’s Baptist Messenger Thursday morning and ran across an interesting article that made me stop and think about things and situations that most people probably didn’t know existed.
The article was written by First Baptist Church of Sandston, Virginia Pastor Matt Fretwell, who outlined the five main reasons pastors leave the ministry. Up until this day, I have never really thought why a pastor would have a reason to leave a church when they are doing God’s work and are looked up to by everyone in their congregation. Or so I thought.
Back in the 90’s SUCCESS magazine featured a unique front cover photo as part of its annual sales edition. The photo was of a local priest and a local prostitute. The cover title right above both of these two people read, “Everyone sells!”
In case you didn’t know it, the pastor of your church is the best salesman in the building. Think about it. They are responsible for the encouragement, enlightenment, psychological evaluation and utilization of closing techniques to get you to the front of the church to make a decision, to join the church and begin a regular tithing routine and sometimes to be there to comfort you at a time of loss to convince you that everything is going to be OK.
The local prostitute also sells, but I won’t get into that and am sure you can figure it out.
Since I am sure from reading Pastor Fretwell’s outline that he is also a great salesman, I will explain his five reasons that pastors leave the ministry in hopes that you will make sure your pastor knows how important he is to you and your family and that you appreciate him and are praying for him.
Financial reasons. Fretwell writes that 70 percent of pastors feel grossly underpaid and many even work below the poverty line. Many of those pastors receive no benefits, medical insurance or retirement options. Many of them become bi-vocational and it seems to them that the business world cares more for its people than the church does. When they leave the pulpit, the church casts them aside.
Leadership. The local church deacons and elders may be in positions of authority but Fretwell writes that they may also give no support to the pastor. When the leaders of a church have no desire to serve or to cultivate spiritual disciplines, the pastor is the one who suffers. When business meetings at churches offer no leadership, they often turn into mere gripe sessions.
Toxicity. Fretwell tells us that many churches that have become toxic have closed and many should be closed. When there is gossip, inside concentration or manipulation, there’s toxicity. Many pastors have been forced out, belittled at corporate meetings and had their message outlines reviewed before the Sunday service. There was even the pastor who had his paycheck withheld by the church treasurer.
Family. Eighty percent of pastors believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. A pastor’s family will always see and feel how he is treated. Whether a lack of compensation, undue stress, or other reasons-unlike any other professions, the family worships where the pastor “works.” Consequently, the pastor’s home becomes an unstable environment. Fretwell writes that some pastor’s wives have literally cried and begged their husbands to leave the church for the sake of the family.
Loneliness. Seventy percent of pastors don’t have a close friend and constantly fight depression. Many pastors have stated an inability to confide in church members. They feel that whatever they say or do will be used against them at some point. Pastoral loneliness is a horrible certainty, going through life without close friendships and feeling depressed. It’s a reality that pastors neglect to share and a major reason they leave.
Keeping all five of these reasons in mind why a pastor might leave a church, what can you do or say to your pastor to let him know how important he is to your family and to you? Can you invite him and his family out to eat at one of our local restaurants? Can your Sunday school or small group hold a fundraiser or collect a love offering to buy him a new suit or make his monthly car payment? How about asking your wife to take your pastors wife out for a day of beauty/massage, manicure and pedicure?
Could you coordinate a special surprise birthday party for your pastor and do more than run to the store for a birthday cake? How about taking your pastor hunting or fishing with all the guys?
I remember calling local pastor John Miller years ago and asking him if he would like to write a weekly column in the newspaper. He named that column “Son of Thunder” and wrote about things from his heart for many years. He was very excited to have been asked to help with the paper! You just have to realize that pastors are people too.
Go to church this weekend and give your pastor and his wife a restaurant gift card for Valentine’s Day. Tell them this is the season for love and let him and his wife know how much you truly love them!
Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?