The Church · The Pulpit

Why Pastors Quit the Ministry

While pastoring a church in Pennsylvania, I was asked one day by a close friend what I wanted to accomplish in ministry. My response was, “I want to survive.” While I said that in humor the tragic reality is that many ministers do not survive for very long in the ministry. Bo Lane has written an important book on why so many pastors leave the ministry. His book, Why Pastors Quit, is available through Amazon. On his website, Mr. Lane offers some insight as to what pastors must deal with.

 “Most pastors are overworked.

“90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.

“And 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

“Most pastors feel unprepared.

“90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands and 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.

“Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.

“70% of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

“Wait, this is huge. Let’s pause here for a moment.

“This means that half of the 1,700 or so pastors who leave the ministry each month have no other way of making a living. Their education and experience is wrapped up solely in the work of the ministry.

“So, not only do pastors struggle with their choice to leave ministry, they have to worry about how they are going to feed their families.

“Speaking of families, most pastor’s families are negatively impacted.

“80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.

“Many pastors are lonely.

“70% do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.

“And then there is this:

“50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form. And 4,000 new churches begin each year while 7,000 churches close.

“The statistics speak for themselves. Working in ministry— whether you’re a full-time pastor or a lay minister balancing a job and a church—can be challenging. Families suffer, discouragement and depression—amongst a gamut of other things—runs like a river in the lives of those who sacrifice their own life to the cause of the church.”

For anyone contemplating engaging in the work of pastoral ministry, I would exhort you to do three things. First, count the cost. Read Bo Lane’s book and then talk to individuals who are in the ministry or who have retired from it.

Second, make sure you have a sense of a divine call to preach. The apostle Paul wrote, For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16).

Finally, be settled in your heart that you are willing to endure hardships. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4).

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