A staggering 42% of Pastors have considered quitting full – time ministry. That is a result of a recent study conducted and reported by Jon Brown of Fox News.
That study quoted one Pastor Ferguson who previously served in ministry but now resigned, who said:
“There is no doubt rates of clerical burnout are increasing”
The Pastor at pastorate has always presented pressures potentially detrimental to relationships and mental health said Ferguson. But these cultural rifts have deepened in recent years because of politics and political issues and the pandemic. These two driving forces have “pressed Pastors to not stay in their lane, which is focusing on our faith and spiritual life.
Pastors and Priests are called to ministry for one essential purpose:
PREACH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
They are called to minister, teach, encourage, marry and otherwise perform the services God would have. They are not called and they are “out of their lane” to take stands on political issues, or cultural, or economic, the province of someone else. THEY ARE CALLED TO PREACH THE BIBLICAL GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!
One Reverend Richard White, Pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Montreat, North Carolina said that he and his staff were overwhelmed with Covid 19 requirements. They did their best to utilize the newly required methodologies of livestreams, cameras, uploading to the church website and other new technical approaches to church services as a result of Covid. But as the pandemic wore on, the church Pastor began to experience a “grinding spirit” and there occurred what Reverend White described as “decision fatigue.” No matter what decision you make, White said, there is a group in the church that is not happy and is local that you are wrong.
Bitter decisions over politics and the pandemic have seeped into churches, leading to the growing rates of job and career burnout among Pastors. David Ferguson, now Executive Director of the Great Commandment Network and former Pastor said:
“Our faith does not exempt us from anxiety, depression, temptation or Covid.”
We live said he in a divided, polarized, politized and hateful world which far too often requires Pastors to take positions on every imaginable topic, many of which are beyond their knowledge or expertise. Rather than the spiritual life of families and individuals growing in the nurture and admonition of the Lord through the ministry of the Pastor, churches are now experiencing division, confrontation and a lack of fellowship. 42% OF PASTORS CAN NOT COPE WITH THIS. As a result, they seriously consider resignation and career change.
The Barna Group agrees. A careful and accurate study by the Barna Group found that Pastors identified unbearable stress as the main cause of burnout. 56% said growing stress would prevent them from achieving the spiritual ministry to which they had been called. 43% of Pastors stated loneliness was a main cause of burnout and 38% said that political divisions were extremely difficult negative factors. Most of those Pastors surveyed that these issues and more had taken a serious toll on their families and the pressure was becoming unbearable.
Another Pastor stated that members of his congregation resigned such membership in the church because the church required congregants to wear masks while another church had members leave because the church did not require the wearing of masks. Another Pastor said that he credited his survival as Pastor to God’s presence, the prayerful encouragement of his staff, his own strengthen and renewed prayer life, and the vocal and continued support of his wife and family. That Pastor said he was often pressed beyond his own strength and forced to “press into the Lord” to sustain himself. What a sad state of affairs. It seems as though far too many in today’s congregations are far too demanding, selfish, egocentric to the point where spiritual issues and matters are taking a back seat to the political and cultural issues of the day.
Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti, a Roman Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Syracuse New York, also a licensed phycologist indicated that rates of depression and anxiety rose among Catholic Priests during the pandemic. As with Protestant churches, Catholic parishioners also laid demands on their Pastors that prove overly burdensome. Said Rossetti:
“People can be very demanding and sometimes they can have expectations that are unrealistic.”
Senior Pastor Drake Caudill of a Baptist Church in Carmi, Illinois stated that too often Pastors are expected to perform more like the CEO of a church rather than a spiritual leader. That he said is not biblical. Said Reverend Caudill:
“I think the expectation for Pastor (performance) should start from scripture and using what scripture expects from the Pastor.”
And in reality, it should not only begin there but end as well no more should be required of any congregation.
Covid and the pandemic only increased Pastor problems. The newly required Covid expectations brought about increased work product and time involved to the point where Pastors were getting tired and exhausted. And, their families were getting tired and exhausted as well. Pastors began to expect too much from themselves. Covid, coupled with political and social issues were taking a toll on Pastors they never before had experienced. The bottom line was that Pastors were now expected to be proficient in those issues which in fact was the profession and expertise of someone else. Said one Pastor:
“We are not economists. If we focus on what God has called us to do, pastoring, preaching, serving, we are far less likely to face some of the challenges that are making Pastors want to quit today.”
As a result of these studies, Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News, stated that “Christianity was dying.” How wrong he is. But is has, as Pastor Ferguson well stated, gotten “out of its lane” and it needs to go back to the old map, the unchangeable, biblical, gospel and the fundamental and basic varieties of Christianity. It is tangential, defeating, a devil’s pool, divisive, unspiritual and unbiblical to do anything but preach the gospel and anything related there to. Pastors need a new courage, a return to the spiritual energy of the Holy Spirit and a new – found ability to saying NO. Pastors need to take control, re-educate the congregation as to the mission, ministry of the church. The world needs the gospel now more than ever. Pastors, called by the Holy Spirit, must lead the way, champion the faith, fight that fight of faith and run the gospel race like never before. If Pastors and Priests don’t do that, Carlson will prove right that Christianity is dying not because of the marvelous, unchanging, life changing power of the gospel, but because those agents and spokespersons of this gospel have lost their way.
The Apostle Paul warned of apostasy. He warned of false teachers, false doctrine (politics and social issues) and implored those who preach and teach to do so with the true gospel, the real gospel, lacking today in so many churches. The burnout of our Pastors will cease and desist only when they return with all their heart, soul and mind to the pure and unadulterated SAVING GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. Them, and only them.