Stats say pastors are All Miserable and Want to Quit

Stats say pastors are All Miserable and Want to Quit
Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

The problem—it’s not true and the false report is hurting pastors and the reputation of the church and ministry.

Pastors are not quitting in droves, but bad stats are certainly spreading in droves.

The Problem

People are legitimately concerned about how many pastors are leaving the ministry. You can hear some disconcerting numbers.

The most common stat batted around is 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month. Recently, I think someone must have decided that number needed updating, so they added an extra 200 and now you hear 1,700 pastors. If you Google it, the claim is everywhere.

The problem is that we cannot find any research that validates those numbers, and the research we do have doesn’t come close to that. The Wesleyan church has done an internal study and LifeWay Research has done some research as well. When extrapolated to the whole of the pastor population, neither approaches 1,500 pastors leaving each month.

But, unfortunately it’s part of a much larger pattern of shocking statistics.

Shocking Statistics Redux

There are several claims we see a lot. “Christians and non-Christians divorce at the same rate.” We’ve sort of debunked that statistic. Then there’s the claim that the church is dying despite no real researcher anywhere believing that to be true. Or, my favourite headline, “Youth Groups are Driving Teens Away from Faith.

So where do these stats come from?

Various sources help spread these numbers. Some formerly cited them, but have since taken them down.

However, one that is frequently cited today is theFrancis Schaffer Institute’s Into Thy Word. It’s a webpage by people who love the Lord and love pastors, but they give some stats they say they received from two conferences held in 2005 and 2006.

  • 77% of the pastors we surveyed felt they did not have a good marriage.
  • 75% of the pastors we surveyed felt they were unqualified and/or poorly trained by their seminaries to lead and manage the church or to counsel others. This left them disheartened in their ability to pastor.
  • 72% of the pastors we surveyed stated that they only studied the Bible when they were preparing for sermons or lessons.
    • 38% of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.
    • 30% said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
    • Those are pretty stunning statistics! But we should look a little deeper at those numbers.

    The webpage indicates that these surveys were from the two conferences in California. That’s important and helpful, though it is often left out when people quote the stats. First, this means the numbers were based on what we call a “convenience sample” and are not representative of pastors in the U.S. Secondly, the conference could have been for pastors with troubled marriages or ministries. That would obviously skew the responses received.

    But then the website also gives a broader statistical look where they say, “Here is research that we distilled from Barna, Focus on the Family, and Fuller Seminary, all of which backed up our findings.”

    Here they cite the “1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month” number, which we’ve already discussed. They also contend “50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.” This is a particularly stunning number since the divorce percentage for all marriages is not that high, according to marriage expert Shaunti Feldhahn. This would mean pastors’ marriages are worse than the culture.

    They continue with other stats that they say “backed up” their stats. citing Barna, Focus, and Fuller. They claimed:

    • 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
    • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
    • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
    • Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.

    But They Are Not…

    None of the ministries cited, however, have these stats numbers. I spoke to both Barna Group and Focus on the Family about their inclusion. Furthermore, I can’t find any reference at Fuller.

    To be fair, focus shared that some of these stats were on their web page years ago, but have been corrected. Jared Pingleton, director of counseling services, told me those stats “are not accurate.”

    David Kinnaman of Barna Group said, “None of these are ours,” even though the pastor “doomsday stats” [his words] are “persistently quoted and persistently attributed to us.”

    Why People Share These “Shocking” Stats…

    People tend to share these bad stats for a couple of reasons. Maybe they heard it from a pastor or leader they trust. Often, they think hearing these shocking numbers will help pastors remain faithful, but frequently it just leaves pastors discouraged and hurts the church’s reputation. Some use the numbers to justify their ministry of helping pastors.

    Whatever the reason, we should be honest about the numbers. Facts are our friends.

    And Pastors Feel Priviledged…

    The truth of the matter is a vast majority of pastors love their job and don’t think it is harming their family. For example, nearly 8 in 10 pastors (79%) disagree with the statement, “Being in ministry has had a negative effect on my family.” A majority (58%) strongly disagree! Most feel privileged to be in the ministry—an overwhelming number, actually. I saw this back in 2011 and I’m not the only one saying this now.

    Our recent LifeWay Research survey confirmed our earlier contention: pastors recognize the challenges that exist in their job, but they love the ministry and aren’t leaving it in droves. Earlier this month, Leadership Network posted my video conversation with Warren Bird where we discuss the truth that only around 1% of pastors in evangelical and historically black churches abandon the pulpit each year.

    I want to make clear that I don’t think there are any bad guys in this situation. Everyone wants to help pastors, but there are bad stats and they can have a bad impact. This is why we have contacted the good people who run the frequently cited website and encouraged them to update their numbers.

    Furthermore, I’ve shared bad stats, even quoting the “Christians and non-Christians divorce at the same rate” years ago. I just don’t do it now since I’ve seen better data. And, I am hoping that we will all share better info as we get better info.

    Facts are our friends.

    If I’m wrong, I will publish any research that confirms the numbers from the website. Feel free to point me to any research I am missing. But it must be actual research and the original source, not just another citation of the website numbers.

    Soon, I’ll be sharing some research from the Wesleyan Church, LifeWay Research, and from others that addresses the issue as well. I feel the truth is too important to allow the continued spread of bad stats.

    Part 2 finds even the man who authored the original study agrees the facts are outdated if not wrong.

70 Comments

  • Philip Williams
    Reply July 2, 2019

    Philip Williams

    Good riddance!

    Get a job.

    (Maybe that’s to harsh.)

    How about seeking and discovering what God wants you to do? Or not.

  • Robert Erwine
    Reply July 2, 2019

    Robert Erwine

    good quit , ill take your job in a heartbeat

  • Nora Neel-Toney
    Reply July 2, 2019

    Nora Neel-Toney

    If a person is truly called and anointed by God and the Holy Spirit, no matter how tough the battle gets, they don’t have the right to quit and ignore the calling on their lives. They should be in prayer and seeking God about whatever the situation may be. People you can’t run from God. Just sayin

  • Isara Mo
    Reply July 2, 2019

    Isara Mo

    If you are called like Jonah you won’t quit, if you have called yourself or if people have called you well you can run away like Jonah and no big fish will be sent to swallow you..
    But if Jehova calls you,mmmh miserable or not, He will see you through the storms…..
    Bearing hardship is the hallmark of a soldier for Christ…quitting is not allowed.it is not part of the game.
    Job cursed the day he was born…
    So did Jeremiah…
    The moment it is a job not a call well you can fire yourself…

  • James L Alldredge
    Reply July 2, 2019

    James L Alldredge

    If you are truly that miserable you have missed your calling, not all who are called to preach are called to pastor, different gift, different spirit required. Some day a really smart denomination is going to figure that out

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 2, 2019

    Troy Day

    its what the stats say nowadays Steve Maxwell

  • Daniel J Hesse
    Reply July 2, 2019

    Daniel J Hesse

    Did we adopt the corporate model of business as ministry? What can on expect as the result of such a choice? If it’s a job or profession, someone needs help.

  • Steve Maxwell
    Reply July 2, 2019

    Steve Maxwell

    …..and thus, the birth of the megachurches. Where laymen and life groups are filling the rolls that mediocre pastors once filled.

  • David Moore
    Reply July 2, 2019

    David Moore

    Amen, Brother Steve Maxwell.

  • Steve Maxwell
    Reply July 3, 2019

    Steve Maxwell

    Btw, Troy, David is a good friend of mine and I bet there’s a good chance that he has some former AG folks in his church.

    I bet our church is made up of 60-70% former Catholics. I believe I will live to see the day that there are more Pentecostals walking the earth than Catholics.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      what do you think about that ratio Philip Williams

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day I don’t know. The thriving Catholic churches are Charismatic and they get a lot of conversions from evangelicals and even Pentecostals.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams so if you think the Pentecostal growth is expressed in joint venture with Catholics Steve’s point might as well call on the bringing of the antiChrist

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day not rabbinic Jews!

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      true – but if US growth accounts only for migrants the American churches is going slow death by suicide

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day most mainline clergy come from former Pentecostals and evangelicals.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      but Catholix clergy are too fully paid and professional though not in the usual IRS tax expempt ways

    • Link Hudson
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Troy Day The US population is being taken over by migrant populations anyway.

      But historically, one might argue that has been the case since the colonial period anyway.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      Link Hudson The US population is NOT being taken over by migrant populations anyway. You;ve got SO MANY millions of millenials that you have to bring both Canada and Mexico into the States to match their growth Another baby boomer generation is soon on the way in the 2020s

    • Link Hudson
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Are you counting illegals in the ‘population’.

    • Steve Maxwell
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      There areas where migrants are taking over quickly. I rarely see another white person in urban Los Angeles. All of my friends and dates in LA, are first or second generation.

      On the other hand, when I visit my grandkids in Montana, I rarely see a minority.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      Steve Maxwell oh WOW what a great point Steve Maxwell last time I traveled quite a bit through Montana every hotel we stayed in was foreign owned – mainly Russian all with newly built sauna spas Guess I was not near your grandma Oh yeas and only 1 gas station was US owned – everything else Indian or Pakistani mostly Muslim of course

    • Steve Maxwell
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Troy Day, 😂🤣🤔 what kind of trashy hotels do you stay in. I know for a fact, that I run I to almost exclusively white folks from the time I enter Idaho, through Montana to the Canadian border and I’ve been there nine times in three years.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 4, 2019

      Troy Day

      Steve Maxwell not trashy – had very nice spa centers with gym and all Most of them Russian owned I only saw 1 US owned gas station I also stayed in a Holiday Inn which had american receptionist but was Indian owned as well as many other hotels and restaurants You really must be living in a bubble when it comes to culture ministry matters

    • Link Hudson
      Reply July 4, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Troy Day there is more than one gas station in Montana?

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 3, 2019

    Troy Day

    Philip Williams the problem will be solved when no introverts are given pastorship At least not in America

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Philip Williams

      yes, if they are interested in Jesus, they will not be introverts.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams I dont know about that Most pastors ARE

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day are introverts?

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams exactly clergy who see themselves as strongly introverted (like pure “I’s” on the Myers-Briggs) I disagree clergy who see themselves as strongly introverted (like pure “I’s” on the Myers-Briggs) This may be true in our western context but not always http://into-action.net/research/introverted-extraverted-matter/

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day I’m not in to pscho-babble.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams well I am just pointing out why churches are going down Used to be the preachers was all Of course we can chose to live in the mega-dot bubble like Steve Maxwell ignore the signs and claim there is global growth because we added few people to our local church #bigDeal

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day you know very well why churches are going down. Preachers go to seminary to learn that the Bible isn’t true. But they can’t say this to the people and have to keep their depressing doubts to themselves.

    • Steve Maxwell
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Troy Day why do you suppose many churches are doing just fine?

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply July 3, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      God created 7 motivational gifts at birth. At least one of them is intuitive, unless second gift is leader, when they will become a leader of teachers. If second gift is encouragement, then teacher uses personal experience and is more extrovert. But prophetic insight gift is definitely introvert. Motivational gifts in Rom 12 are for lifespan. Myers Brigg measure learnt behaviour and not God created inborn temperament. You can do a free inborn temperament http://www.idrlabs.com. Pastors should be members of Eph 4 teams, needing both extroverts and introverts.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      Steve Maxwell your church is not doint fine you are delusional when it comes to real church growth

    • Steve Maxwell
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Steve Maxwell

      Troy Day, chortle

  • RichardAnna Boyce
    Reply July 3, 2019

    RichardAnna Boyce

    5% of pastors are Free Grace and are probably those with a God given mission in life, to disciple other pastors, and it keeps them joyful.

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 3, 2019

    Troy Day

    actually NO RichardAnna Boyce classical Pentecostal ministers are on the rise No free grace no hyper no nothing Charles Page who was the reformed teacher you had?

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply July 3, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      judging by experience in our home city of 100,000 our 3 young FG Pentecostal pastors are the only joyful ones. They are the only pastors with 100% assurance of eternal salvation; as they are the only ones preaching justification/ regeneration/ born again with NO conditions attached at time of first believing; or later as an add on in fruit testing.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      RichardAnna Boyce no can do – which home city? Steve Maxwell is also judging by his community but we cant do There is a larger picture that needs to be considered in a global context Ignoring it may lead to bust Philip already mentioned how number stats and professional laymen contribute largely to the issue of our churches decline today

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply July 3, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      Mindanao Philippines, an average small city outside USA.

    • Charles Page
      Reply July 4, 2019

      Charles Page

      Holy Spirit doesn’t teach reformed theology!

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 4, 2019

    Troy Day

    enough with Steve Maxwell grandma Montana diversions Philip Williams why would pastors NOT be happy in America today? are they happier in China as RichardAnna Boyce claimed

  • Jevan Little
    Reply July 5, 2019

    Jevan Little

    Try praying for your Paster. Help him out

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 5, 2019

      Troy Day

      what is a pastER? I like present ERs Philip Williams

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 5, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day Have to aggree that Christian pastors in China are probably happier due to their greater dependence on Jesus.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 5, 2019

      Troy Day

      paste sound to like maste as used in Link Hudson GA county back in the day – just sayin Joe Absher

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 5, 2019

    Troy Day

    YES Link Hudson more than one gas station in Montana? I filled up at about 50 crossing it back and forth and found ONLY 1 American owned on the major interstates the rest were indian or pakistani That one could be operated by Steve mAx grandma family – who knows?

    • Link Hudson
      Reply July 5, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Did you ask if their laat name was Patel?

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 5, 2019

      Troy Day

      Link Hudson ahaha you are SO stereotypical If I knew you were not from GA I Would have think you was a cracker One was Ashish another Rakesh I probably saw a dozen owners Hard working families.

    • Link Hudson
      Reply July 5, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Troy Day there are lots of Patels who own gas stations like that, but of course many other family names as well. Did you ask for last names?

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 5, 2019

      Troy Day

      Yes there are Most of them are True that One was Rakesh Patel one Ashish something etc

  • Joe Absher
    Reply July 5, 2019

    Joe Absher

    …the milk of human kindness

  • Troy Day
    Reply October 12, 2019

    Troy Day

    Michael Ellis Carter Jr. RT Daniel J Hesse Did you know, according to research, that over 1,500 pastors left the ministry every month last year and over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause in America?
    You ask, why does the local church need to recognize their pastor/s during Pastor Appreciation Month (or every time you can).
    Look at these stats:
    • 72% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
    • 84% of pastors feel they are on call 24/7.
    • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
    • 65% of pastors feel their family lives in a “glass house” and fear they are not good enough to meet expectations.
    • 23% of pastors report being distant to their family.
    • 78% of pastors report having their vacation and personal time interrupted with ministry duties or expectations.
    • 65% of pastors feel they have not taken enough vacation time with their family over the last 5 years.
    • 28% of pastors report having feelings of guilt for taking personal time off and not telling the church.
    • 35% of pastors report the demands of the church denies them from spending time with their family.
    • 24% of pastor’s families resent the church and its effect on their family.
    • 22% of pastor’s spouses reports the ministry places undue expectations on their family.
    • 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
    • Moral values of a Christian is no different than those who consider themselves as non-Christians.
    • 53% of pastors report that the seminary did not prepare them for the ministry.
    • 90% of pastors report the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
    • 45% of pastors spend 10-15 hours a week on sermon preparation.
    • 57% of pastors believe they do not receive a livable wage.
    • 57% of pastors being unable to pay their bills.
    • 53% of pastors are concerned about their future family financial security.
    • 75% of pastors report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
    • 52% of pastors feel overworked and cannot meet their church’s unrealistic expectations.
    • 54% of pastors find the role of a pastor overwhelming.
    • 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once in the last year.
    • 80% of pastors expect conflict within their church.
    • 26% of pastors report being over fatigued.
    • Over 50% of pastors state the biggest challenge is to recruit volunteers and encourage their members to change (living closer to God’s Word).
    • 70% of pastors report they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
    • 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider to be a close friend.
    • 57% of pastors feel fulfilled but yet discouraged, stressed, and fatigued.
    • The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”.
    • Many denominations are reporting an “Empty Pulpit Crisis”. They do not have a shortage of ministers but have a shortage of ministers desiring to fill the role of a pastor.
    • 71% of churches have no plan for a pastor to receive a periodic sabbatical.
    • 30% of churches have no documentation clearly outlining what the church expects of their pastor.
    • 1 out of every 10 pastors will actually retire as a pastor.
    Scripture reminds us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it (Proverbs 3:27, ESV).
    The pastor is the encourager and the one who usually shows appreciation. Let me encourage you to show extra attention during National Pastor Appreciation Month to your pastor.

  • RichardAnna Boyce
    Reply October 12, 2019

    RichardAnna Boyce

    Pastors should stop preaching performance based religion. Then they will not feel they have not performed well enough themselves. Better they read some of the theology on Pentecostal Theology and teach Free Grace where Jesus has performed perfectly for them already. I can only say this because i have been there, done that, and burnt out myself.

    • Joe Absher
      Reply October 14, 2019

      Joe Absher

      Is this the man talking or the woman

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply October 14, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      Joe Absher we are one flesh

    • Joe Absher
      Reply October 14, 2019

      Joe Absher

      Well you’re right about the flesh part anyways

    • RichardAnna Boyce
      Reply October 14, 2019

      RichardAnna Boyce

      we are a married couple with the same spiritual views; have both burnt out through performance religion; and neither of us will give oxygen to sarcasm.

  • Isara Mo
    Reply October 12, 2019

    Isara Mo

    To serve Jesus was not meant to be a tourist visit to Ngorongoro

  • Michael Ellis Carter Jr.
    Reply October 12, 2019

    Michael Ellis Carter Jr.

    Interesting statistics but not surprising.

  • Troy Day
    Reply October 12, 2019

    Troy Day

    not sure why the surprise Michael Ellis Carter Jr. we’ve been taking care of pastor clergy in this country over 200 yrs now They are well taken care of Sure there are some struggling but for the most pastors got it going on and taken care of And they forgot how to fight for it – hence the sudden stats

    Joe Absher and then there are some sissies who have gotten into the ministry expecting to be pampered and now finding out ministry is war are crying for their lives and leaving The ministry is not for sissies

    • Michael Ellis Carter Jr.
      Reply October 12, 2019

      Michael Ellis Carter Jr.

      Troy Day yeah I said it’s Not surprising 😂

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 13, 2019

      Troy Day

      Michael Ellis Carter Jr. we’ve been taking good care of pastors in America -not like China They should be on the top of their game with millenials , genders and so on front-liners

    • Joe Absher
      Reply October 13, 2019

      Joe Absher

      No question pastors take abuse and mistreatment. We pray for the pastors Grace and peace, wisdom and strength, good help, support and loving people. Vision and holy passion.
      I hope you don’t think I would approach a pastor with that kind of language or attitude. I’ve always said a good pastor is a gift from God. And pastors have my respect and loyalty. It’s true though the “make believe” pastors need to go sit down somewhere. I only recently started using language like fake preacher, fake anointing (10 yrs) false brethren etc.

    • Troy Day
      Reply October 14, 2019

      Troy Day

      Joe Absher Michael Ellis Carter Jr. not for sissies

    • Joe Absher
      Reply October 14, 2019

      Joe Absher

      2 Timothy 2:21 KJV — If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

      In what measure is abiding conviction necessary for courage then. I been thinking on a few necessary things. Honour, courage, faith. Honour. It has a strange definition. Something to the effect “the value of a man” the price of a slave. Or maybe in laymens terms don’t give your life so cheaply.

  • Joe Absher
    Reply October 14, 2019

    Joe Absher

    A different perspective

    https://youtu.be/zcaEDDmcdU8

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