The current issue of Homiletics has a small piece in the illustrations section following an article about 'Comfort Food' that I found eye opening to the point of dumbfounding. I will share a little statement from the piece each day and give my opine, so please feel free to give yours, as long as you agree with me.
According to Barna, Focus on The Family and Mark Driscoll:
"1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month."
How does the stating of these figures strike you? If you are appalled, in the next few days/weeks you will be flabbergasted. Other numbers in this article are outright mind-boggling.
The 1500 exiting pastors do not tell the rest of the story. At least that many each month leave the pastorate in heart, but remain on the payroll as later statements will show. Many of my associates will castigate the ministerial drop outs, but in reality they should be commended for at least being honest. When all is said and done, a man with no heart for the work, really should be planting corn or whatever.
I must note that many famous preachers have had a period of 'no heart' for the work. I dare not call modern names for fear of hurting someone, or even worse becoming the object of an attack for telling the truth!!
Elijah, the wild honey and locust eating prophet of Mt. Carmel fame, became so disheartened that he sat under Juniper tree sulking and wanting to die. I have been there sans the actual Juniper tree. Yet, God tenderly and patiently restored Elijah to usefulness, with his heart in the work at hand. So my question is: How many of the dropouts drop back in when a time of heart healing has taken place?
Jeremiah had enough and just pulled a ‘sit in’ and in time, the fire burned again in his heart and well, you know the rest of the story.
The three reasons given for the drop out rate are, moral, spiritual burnout and contention in their churches. Which of these do you think is the primary reason? If you said, internal contention, you are probably correct. Over several years of counseling several thousand Christian workers, most of whom were pastors, I often discovered that moral problems were offshoots of stress from internal problems within the church and or marriage.
It would be hard to figure out just how many pastors will stand in pulpits this weekend and give mere lip service to His resurrection when all the while their heart is far from Him.
The purpose of these notes for the next few days is manifold, including yours truly searching my own heart, encouraging you to search your heart and ask God to recharge your heart and perhaps, say a little prayer for the pastor who labors in the word and cares for your souls as instructed by Peter in his great piece on the under shepherd, supervisor of the flock. And fellow pastors, we really must pray for one another.