Defying the Stats!

men-prayingGot this today from a friend who is a Chaplain in the Navy.  Some interesting stats.  My question here is how can we encourage each other in the ministry?  I have a list of guys that I pray for on a regular basis and a longer list that I pray for every Sunday morning.  What would you add to help change these stats?

“Steve, I know that some of our peers from OCC are no longer in ministry.  Few remain after 10-15 years.  Many of those 4.0 students are doing other things now.  Here are some stats I dug up.”

-1,500 clergy leaving pastoral ministry each month. ~The Barna Research Group

-61% of congregations have forced a pastor to leave. ~Christianity Today

-83% of clergy spouses want their spouse to leave pastoral ministry. -Hartford Institute for Religious Research

-90% of clergy in all denominations will not stay in ministry long enough to reach the age of retirement. ~U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics

-50% of pastors indicated that they would leave the ministry if they had another way of making a living. ~Hartford Institute for Religious Research

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5 Steps to Being a Healthy Pastor

Today we want to pass along an interview with a long time pastor that Tom and I know from Northern California.  His name is Jeff Bigelow and the discussion comes from the Vanderbloemen search group.  The questions were asked by Holly Hall who serves at Vanderbloemen.  Jeff has a wealth of experience and we hope it will be an encouragement.  What would you add? Continue reading

From Tom . . . Getting Rid of All Those Tequila-Lime Wings or “Everything that Hinders and So Easily Entangles”

Today it came to me in the midst of my quiet time (an epiphany?):  Monday is garbage day.  It is Monday—and it hit me.  I had plenty of room in my garbage can out at the curb and I had noticed a day or two ago some outdated food in the freezer.  Because the garbage guy could arrive any moment, I interrupted my devotional time to examine my deep freeze.  It wasn’t long before my eyes beheld one or two packages of Tequila-Lime Chicken Wings.  I checked the dates and sure enough—one of them, actually both of them were out of date by years, not months!  But with the ice build-up, I didn’t realize that there were three more bags of wings—five in all, and yes, all of them seriously out of date!  I got back to my prayer time without too much disruption. Continue reading

Dealing with the “D” Word.

We don’t talk about it much.  But we all know that a life of ministry can be really hard at times and that it can have serious effects on us.  Right now I’m thinking of five great guys who are presently dealing with possible borderline clinical depression.  But they wouldn’t tell you that.  They know how to “do ministry.”  They know how to throw on the smile and turn the attention to others.  They really want to help others know Jesus better.  But deep inside, they hurt, possibly even to the level of their brain chemistry being affected.  Sometimes the answer is just some serious time off from literal 24/7 schedules.  Sometimes a temporary prescription of something like Zoloft or Paxil can clear things up.  At times they just need a half dozen or more visits with a Biblical counselor.  But whatever they do, they know they can’t quit because they know that deep inside this is the life God has called them to in the same way that Peter responded to Jesus in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”  This is the life of their calling and existence and they know they could not in good conscience do anything else.  So they press on. Continue reading

On Tackling the Temple (The day I reached 196)

Well I wasn’t too happy this past week with my cholesterol check.  Apparently the number 196 is not too good.  At least my Dr. friend didn’t like it. He said that 200 is the beginning of the danger zone and obviously I’m not too far removed from that number.  So I took my beating and was told that my exercise routine needs to get longer and my diet needs to get smaller.  No, I was not thrilled at the results.  Beyond just not liking the idea of having a growing gut I recognized that if my cholesterol grows there can be health risks which will hold ramifications for my family.  In short, I need to get healthier not just for me, but for them.  After ruminating a bit it became clear that there are also spiritual implications to this bodily discussion.  Continue reading

Get Mad and Get Over it!

I have to give my wife credit for this one. But I remember her reading an autobiography by Colin Powell a number of years ago. Deep within the text from this great leader he shared some of his life principles. One of those simply stated that he would: “Get mad and then get over it!” I’ve thought about that statement over the years. If we’re honest we can admit that most if not all of us have gotten really mad in ministry. In those occasions there can be a dangerous tendency to think that because we’re ministers or pastors we should be in better control of our emotions. Sometimes we think that if we’re really mature we would be beyond that. But on the other hand, when we allow those emotions to fester deep within our souls they can become septic and actually destroy not only our witness as leaders, but our own souls as well. Powell’s point is that if we quickly deal with the emotion and whatever issue is driving it, we can once and for all settle it. Too many times Christ followers and even pastors have been slowed down in the race with weights of bitterness and un-forgiveness around their ankles. These unresolved emotions can also turn into depression with physical side effects if not dealt with. But when the issues are resolved and buried, we can go forward unencumbered. Continue reading

The Preacher’s Sunday Morning Prayer Pledge.

What do you pray about on Sunday mornings?  Do you pray for lost souls?  We all do that at times.  But what about the times when you don’t feel like a “healthy pastor” and you’d rather stay in bed?  Do you pray that you’ll just be able to make it through the morning?  Do you pray that no one will notice how unprepared you are or how beat up you feel?  I’ve been there when the well is dry and I have nothing to give.  It’s at those times that I’m thankful that this preaching business is not all about me, my skills, or even my passion.  It’s about what the Holy Spirit can do in the lives of people even when my preaching is poor.  I’m thankful for that.

I’m also thankful for prayer. Continue reading