Death by Ministry

"At our recent Reform & Resurge Conference in Seattle, my good friend Pastor Darrin Patrick from The Journey in Saint Louis spoke frankly of the burden that pastoral ministry is. I have pushed myself to the edge and over the edge of burnout throughout my nearly ten years in vocational ministry. Subsequently, I have been doing a great deal of research that I am compiling in hopes of not only improving my own life but also the lives of the leaders at Mars Hill Church and the churches in our Acts 29 Network." ~Mark Driscoll

Part 1 — Some Statistics
The following statistics were presented by Pastor Darrin Patrick from research he has gathered from such organizations as Barna and Focus on the Family.

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
Pastors' Wives
Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
My brethren, it ought not so to be! Ministry ought to be the most joyful pursuit, the most rewarding vocation in all the earth! But in many churches (apparently most) and in many pastors (again, apparently most) our dysfunctions combine to produce an unrealistic, demanding, must-please-everyone environment that destroys men and women, marriages, and ministries. The unremitting criticism and petty bickering and sinful gossip that is too often aimed at hard-working pastors (my colleagues among them) makes church ministry--at least in our American culture--a slow death. Death by ministry. God, help us.


  1. Today I wrote a blog post titled "When you're weary, feelin' small . . ." which was partially in response to comments made by Rob Bell in his interview with Leadership magazine. I think some of the pressure on all us - especially pastors - is the push to be "bigger" but I question that as a scriptural mandate. Seems more like a product of our culture than God's plan for our individual lives.

  2. Yep! The statistics are pretty dismal. For me, I think the greatest change has to be expectations (both by the pastor and by the church). Churches need to understand that pastors are not super human. Unfortunately we put them up on the pedestal way too often. And pastors need to understand that they are not there to fix everything and do everything that everyone wants them to do. They need to have a clear sense of their calling and be able to have good boundaries in place.