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


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  I had plenty of room in my garbage can out at the curb and I had noticed a day or two ago some outdated food in the freezer.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  I checked the dates and sure enough—one of them, actually both of them were out of date by years, not months!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the ice build-up, I didn’t realize that there were three more bags of wings—five in all, and yes, all of them seriously out of date!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

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


White Space

I’ve been writing newsletters for over twenty years, mostly as a missionary but also the church newsletter when I was a pastor. One consistent piece of advice I’ve had over the years is that every newsletter should have wide margins and lots of white space. When the page is uncluttered it is easier for the reader to follow what’s being written rather than being distracted by the noise and visual dissonance on the page. As often as possible, even when I was tempted to write too many words and cram too much into a given space, I cut the verbiage down, simplified, and kept the message straightforward.
I’ve read a lot of newsletters over the years. The ones that don’t respect the rule of white space usually send a shiver through my soul and create an inner cringe. The writer’s all-too-important message is lost in the crowd (of words).
If the rule of white space is true for a newsletter, what does it look like when applied to a life? Your life is on display. Continue reading