Tuesday, November 20

Shocking Survey

A shocking new survey reveals how dire the situation is for the contemporary American church. The great tragedy is that it is the church which has been entrusted with "the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world."

According to the Center for Religion, Culture, and Democracy's 2007 State of the American Church Survey:

- Just over 1500 American pastors leave the ministry each month.
- Nearly 4,000 churches are planted each year.
- But more than 7,000 close each year.
- 50% of all pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
- 70% of all pastors constantly fight depression.
- 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
- 50% of pastors are so discouraged by their role as pastor that they would leave the ministry today if the could.
- 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, a confidant, or a mentor.
- 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry in the first five years.
- 90% of pastors say that their seminary of Bible school training did only a fair to poor job in preparing them for the ministry.
- 85% of pastors said that their greatest problems that are discouraging, divisive, and disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, staff members, and associate pastors.
- 75% of Pastors are regular users of Internet pornography.
- 80% of pastors’ wives wish their husbands would choose another profession. A majority of pastors wives said the most destructive thing to ever happen to their lives was the day their husband entered the ministry.

May God raise up in our midst pastors, leaders, and parish congregations to buck these wretched trends. As my friend Cindy Rollins has beautifully reminded us, the need of the hour is for faithful reapers and kingdom seekers to lay down their lives to and share the harvest--for the Lord is calling such to His great Gospel work.


Unknown said...

Bless your heart! Thank-you!

Lawrence Underwood said...

Although my circle of pastoral contacts is limited, I would have to concur with the stats listed. It is truly a sad state of affairs with deeply rooted issues causing this situation. It will not be solved lightly.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is a Scriptural reason for the sad state of affairs the local "pastor" finds himself in. Read more about this here .

gileskirk said...

Kurt: While I think Zens makes some good points--and knowing that I have many sympathies with the Reformed Baptist brethren who hold to New Covenant Theology, a strong view of the priesthood of believers, and a functioning eldership--me thinks he protesteth too much. I am not convinced the New Testament forces us into an either/or situation. Indeed, Paul's pastoral epistles call for a trained, set apart, full-time ministry. There he outlines a Biblical parish model, with its incumbent presbyteries and sessions, by which the extreme isolation and autonomy of a professionalized clergy can be avoided while simultaneously affording the Body of Christ with a faithful, equipped, and accountable pastorate.

Anonymous said...

"I am not convinced the New Testament forces us into an either/or situation."

Neither do I, George. I believe that Scripture allows for "functioning" elders, but does not mandate them today.

In light of the transition from Judaism to Christianity (A.D. 30 - A.D. 70) and incompleteness of Scripture, elders operating in an oversight function was certainly necessary.

However, with the completeness of Scripture and the advancing, maturing Body of Christ over the last 2,000 years, don't you think it's time to take the training wheels off the Body, and let it function in the true vein of kings and priests being led by the Spirit under Christ, with Scripture as our guide in life?

Seems to me, the fact that so many organizational "churches" need "rulers" to dispense discipline, is really a judgment on God's people (and thus the problems you noted with "pastors").

gileskirk said...

Kurt: No actually, I think the real problem is worldliness. In other words, the issue is a loss of emphasis on Scripture, holiness, and covenantal life.

Rileysowner said...

Kurt, you seem much more assured that the Christian church has matured over the last 2000 years than I am. I can see areas where that might be true, but overall, especially in Canada and the United States, I would say Christianity is much less mature than it has been in the past.

George, you have hit the nail on the head, so to speak. The problem is a worldliness that has filled churches with people who are looking for something from the church, and the pastors for that matter, that the church was never meant to provide. They want the candy of the world, not the full course meal of the great salvation of God in Jesus Christ. They want CEO's not pastors. They want motivational speakers, not preachers of the word. They want to be told they are going to heaven, but still want to have both feet firmly planted in this world.

Sadly, the same is true for pastors. It is as I realize that in myself more and more, that as a pastor I am freed from it and can start to minister in the fear of the Lord. I still find that I am discouraged, drained, and my health suffers because of ministry, but as these areas of worldliness in my life are dealt with more and more by the grace of God, I find that there is more joy in ministry than there was before.

I seem to remember a study done in Canada dealing with the health of pastors, and it found that pastors had went from being one of the healthiest vocations to one of the least healthy. I need to see if I can find a like to it.

Stephen Bratton said...

"No actually, I think the real problem is worldliness. In other words, the issue is a loss of emphasis on Scripture, holiness, and covenantal life."

I agree. It seems to me that the number on emphasis that we have lost is that of Sola Scriptura. Most people today do not believe that Scripture is "sufficient" and therefore have begun to add to it. This is especially evident in Pastors who now teach pop-psychology instead of the Word of God.

In return, we see a degradation of the spiritual and moral lives of believers AND pastors. Until our churches return to the sufficiency of scripture, I can only see this trend getting worse.

Mark Stubblefield said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gileskirk said...

Mark: I culled the stats from an article I received in a political solicitation mailing. I haven't looked to see if they are available online anywhere. I do know that Barna has similar stats.

Diane V. said...

During this Thanksgiving season, I am extremely grateful to the Lord for my Pastor husband and other Pastors who are, by the continual grace of God, bucking those wretched trends! They are out there being faithful to God's call on their life. May we grant them the double honor and esteem Scripture encourages us to give them and PRAY for them diligently.

gileskirk said...

Diane: I too thank the Lord for your husband and the host of other dear friends and pastors who are bucking these trends. From my own experience I know that such pastors are able to do what they do because they have godly, faithful, supportive wives--like Karen and you! May God be praised and may the Gospel go forth afresh in our day!

Seth Huckstead said...

Dr. Grant,

Can you provide a link to this publication? It would be helpful. I showed this to my academic advisor and he thought that some of these figures were not believable.

Thank you,

Seth Huckstead

gileskirk said...

Seth: As I mentioned to Mark above, I culled the stats from an article I received in a political solicitation mailing. I am not aware if they are available online anywhere. I do know that Barna has published similar stats as has Christianity Today and Leadership Magazine.

Seth Huckstead said...

Dr. Grant:

I apologize for not reading very carefully-one of those post now read later comments. However, I did a search on the Center for Religion, Culture, and Democracy and could not find such an institute (however it could be a school at the University of Virginia).

The closest I could come to the above statistics were on Mark Driscoll's blog, and those data were given to him by a colleague who had put these numbers together from Barna and Focus on the Family. Basically this report is not immediately available on the internet.

I hope this does not sound like I am raking you, I am certainly not intending to, for I have a lot of respect for you, and I say this or rather type this, with honor to you. I just cannot verify this report, which, if true, is sobering.

I do hope this comes across not as an attack, but with sincerity and love, for the internet and the meta's of blog's have a lousy way of presenting sincerity.

While I am typing this thanks taking the time to write on Planned Parenthood-your research has been helpful in compiling a paper on the ethics of birth control that I am writing for a Seminary course.
-Seth Huckstead