Thabiti Anyabwile of 9Marks, a ministry dedicated to equipping church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches, wrote an eye catching article a few years back titled “Don’t Make Your Pastor A Statistic”.
Thabiti is a highly impressive Gospel-preaching Pastor with a personality that just lights up the pulpit anytime he gets near it. In this article, he had recently preached at his Church, Anacostia River Church in Southeast DC on 1 Timothy 5:17-20.
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.”
Pastor Thabiti claimed, “it was an honor to preach this passage to a congregation that has been full of love, support, and encouragement to me and my family these past five years. But if I am to believe some of the survey statistics published on pastors and their view towards the ministry, the vast majority of my fellow pastors do not feel this way and are not receiving proper care from their people.” He compiled some alarming pastor stats from Schaffer Institute supporting this statement, some to include:
Hours and Pay
- 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
- 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
Training and Preparedness
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they
thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
Health and Well-Being
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if
they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Marriage and Family
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
- 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.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
After presenting the facts, Thabiti suspected “that men in these situations might be crippled all the more were they to faithfully preach a text like 1 Tim. 5:17-20. They would be seen as self-serving and courting with more hostility and dissatisfaction from a people already running afoul of God’s call to churches to honor faithful servants.”
While Pastor Thabiti couldn’t be more spot on and we also hope that some of God’s people would consider these statistics and reflect upon their church’s treatment of their pastors, we would add to the statistics and solution. We’ve witnessed the poor physical health that more than often, Pastors seem to be in. Christiancentury.org shares further statistics on Pastor Health, at least for North Carolina.
- 40 percent of UMC clergy in North Carolina are obese—a figure 11% higher than for the general population of North Carolinians and 14% higher than for the national population.
- Over 50% of pastors are unhealthy, overweight, and do not exercise.
“It is hard to have proper faith when are not healthy. Unhealthiness robs you of your faith. I’ve seen so many of my pastor friends suffer heart attacks, have open-heart surgery or receive arterial stints to help circulation around the heart.” – Senior Pastor Brent Watts, Abundant Life Church
The facts prove that the career is a high demanding, long hour, mentally and emotionally draining, and often lonely one. We would add that it’s a highly sedentary one that is often built around poor quality food…and lots of it. Those facts together are a recipe for disaster, but some of them can be battled on the Pastors side, if equipped to do so.
Dr. Amy Myers teaches us that your gut is your second brain.
And many of these items listed can affect the gut, leading to mental and emotional distress. Diet, stress, medications. Basically fueling the fire here.
That’s why we are so passionate about restoring health back to Pastors. It’s hard to change other people. It’s hard to get a ship moving in another direction once it’s been on a long journey. We’re not saying it shouldn’t be fought for but we believe there’s another side that can be fought for as well. And that’s strengthening the Christian leaders so their temples are in a better spot to withstand the demands of this tough career.
We’ve seen much improvement from our program’s Christian Leaders:
“As I become more disciplined in personal fitness, I see my overall work ethic, attitude, productivity and spiritual and mental health benefit. God created us as whole beings, not compartmentalized beings. Therefore it makes sense that all physical and mental activities are linked to the spiritual. The MissionFiT Program is a chance to steward our bodies in such a way that all of our relationships and spheres of influence will be impacted for the good. “ – Ken Schmidt, Pastor, Church at Charlotte
“I realized early on in my time with MissionFiT that I had my priorities backwards. Like most leaders, I tend to put everything else first, and had no energy or time to focus on my own wellbeing. I now put my health and wellbeing FIRST, and I’ve realized the healthier I become, the healthier other parts of my life have become, especially my marriage.” – Matthew Thomas, Christian Non-Profit Leader, Reboot
“Through MissionFiT, I became more aware of my “sugar addiction”, enjoyed more seafood, started taking vitamins, tracking my sleep, and drinking a lot more water. I learned a variety of new movements and will always enjoy squats more than bear crawls. 😉 Tracking sleep and consistent exercise leaves me feeling more energized. I’m not so tired at the end of a long day.” – Brent Watts, Senior Pastor, Abundant Life
To learn more about our Program for restoring health back to Christian leaders, visit OUR FiT PROCESS on our website.