Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pastoring Is Not Easy

Here are some stats why:

- 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce
- 80% of seminary graduates will leave ministry in the first 5 years
- 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid (compared to the amount of work they do)
- 80% of pastors’ spouses believe their spouse is overworked
- 50% of pastors feel unable to meet the needs of the job
- 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their family
- 56% of pastors’ spouses have no close friends
- 80% of pastors’ kids seek professional help for depression
- 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors

Here are some more stats:

- 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 85% of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people.
- 90% of pastors said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.
- 95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.
- 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant or mentor.
- 66% of pastors and their families feel pressure to model the ideal family to their congregations and communities.

- 5 years - the average tenure of a pastor at a church.
- 1500 pastors leave ministry each month due to moral failure, burnout or contention in their churches.
- Pastors who work fewer than 50 hours a week are 35% more likely to be terminated.
- The average church member expects the pastor to be able to juggle 16 major tasks.
- Approximately 4,000 new churches begin each year while more than 7,000 churches close down each year.

Pastors are the unsung heroes of the Church. If someone does not care for pastors, they will disappear.

Please honor and pray for your pastor.

[From Ministry Best Practices by Bill Reichart]

Why People Leave The Church

Church hopping is not good. People need to learn commitment, dedication, and submission. I deeply believe in the value of staying in the church that God plants you in rather than just leaving as soon as you get offended.

That said, if church members are leaving (or ministers), somebody needs to ask why? Exit interviews are indispensable.

Here are some of the reasons I hear from people leaving:

Everything was mediocre. Mediocrity has been too prevalent in the church today. Be it marketing, music, teaching, evangelism or anything else, it should be excellent. Just a few hundred years ago the greatest music, paintings, literature, etc. were glorifying God. It offends me that the word "Christian" is used as an adjective that is synonymous with mediocre by some non-Christians. It should not be.

The place was full of strife. The Bible has some very strong things to say about strife and it also says that they will know that we are Christians by the love that we have for one another (John 13:35).

Back-biting, selfish-ambition and gossip are things that I expect to see on a soap-opera, not in the church. I realize that people are not perfect and that everyone makes a mistake, but when I see strife as a defining characteristic of a church it makes me want to look elsewhere.

There was an unwillingness to adapt. Paul became all things to all people in order that he could win them. I am reminded of a church near me that built a state-of-the-art skate park in order to give a young and notoriously rebellious generation a place to skate -- all in order to win them to Jesus.

Another church I know of created a haunted house to compete with all the others during the Halloween season. The house shows the scariest thing -- hell. It then shows the visitors Jesus and why he died. It is top-notch and thousands of people wait in line for hours each year to get in.

They tickled the ears of the congregation. There are a lot of people who do not want to be challenged in their faith walk. They want what they believe preached to them, rather than having the truth preached to them. It is easy for churches to get caught up in just trying to keep the congregation happy rather than speaking the truth of the Bible.

The real truth is that churches like this are doing a tremendous disservice to the kingdom of God and to the congregants themselves. The congregants who refuse to grow end up hanging around, while the hungry Christians take off to some place where they can have the unfiltered truth spoken to them.

It is not led with passion. I want to follow a leader who believes what he is saying. Someone who is not just speaking words that he read, but rather speaking with truths that have changed his life and the corresponding passion that follows.

It is impossible for someone to truly be passionate about something that they are not sure about. I want to follow a leader who has seen God work in his life and who has seen the Word change him in real and practical ways.

Final thoughts

There is a new breed that is rebelling against the self-satisfying lifestyles they see all around them. They are eager to be challenged and are willing to lay down their lives for the call. This provides a great opportunity for churches to step up and create a church they want to go to.

[By Bob Lotich at Church Marketing]

Is Sarah Palin Pentecostal?

Sarah Palin has said she was baptized in the Roman Catholic church. As a teenager, she began attending the Pentecostal Assemblies of God church in Wasilla and was baptized there by the founding pastor, Paul Riley. Todd Stafford, an associate pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God, says Palin often publicly thanks Riley -- now nearly 80 and still working as a prison chaplain -- for bringing her to Jesus when she visits the church. She attended that Pentecostal church until she was 38 years old, when she switched to Wasilla Bible Church, saying she preferred the children's ministries there.

Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing branches of Christianity in the world, and the Assemblies of God is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the country, claiming 1.6 million members. Pentecostals are generally characterized by a strict adherence to moral codes -- no tobacco, no alcohol, no social dancing, no sex outside of marriage -- and by their belief that the Holy Spirit bestows upon some the gift of "speaking in tongues," a reference to Acts 2: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues."

However, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign has said that Palin attends many churches and does not consider herself to be Pentecostal.

This past Sunday, worship at the Assembly of God fellowship in Wasilla was as euphoric as the Bible Church was staid. The congregation of about 100 was on its feet, shouting and clapping. Some members on another Sunday might murmur and keen in low voices, the sound of speaking in tongues. But the purpose of the sermon this Sunday was to prepare the church for the media onslaught that was sure to follow. "Because Jesus Christ died on the cross," the senior pastor, Ed Kalnins, told the crowd, "we can worship in public. How many people are thanking God for what's happening to Governor Sarah?"

Kalnins guessed that about half of the people in his church have the gift of tongues. He has it himself, he says, though he rarely demonstrates it. "It's not meant to be shown off," he said. "It's not like flexing muscles. I received the gift in college, and it transformed my life." It's not something like from the "remote parts of the jungle," he adds: It's a decision.

And if the staff of Wasilla Bible Church shies from taking political stands, Kalnins does not. Homosexuality, he says, is a choice. He would not vote for a pro-choice candidate. When asked about the evolution-creationism debate, Kalnins is clear: "You present the facts of creation versus evolution and the truth will come out," he says. What does Palin think? "This is something inside every human heart of a believer," he answers.

When Palin worships in Juneau, she attends an Assembly of God church there.

Will this become a political issue? How will Pentecostalism stand up to this?