Prevention services for pastors?


Ran across a new set of stats about pastor health in the last few weeks. Nothing surprising, just more confirmation of the same story. A Cheryl Shireman reports on data from over a thousand pastors who attended 2 conferences. Some of her stats…

  • 57% of pastors would leave if they had a better place to go–including secular work
  • 77% report not having a good marriage
  • 72% felt they were unqualified or poorly trained by seminaries to lead the church or counsel others
  • Only 38% report personal devotions outside of sermon prep
  • 38% are divorced or going through one
  • 30% admitted a sexual encounter with a parishioner

Let’s assume that most pastors enter the ministry fit (false assumption!) for the trials and tribulations and spiritually mature. What can a church do to maintain that pastor’s health (and his/her family as well)? We surely don’t give them combat pay. While most get vacation and health benefits, few report getting ongoing discipleship or training beyond the annual preaching conference.

Here’s an idea I’ve surfaced here before. What if pastors were required to have a mentor? What if churches provided $1000 a year for use in preventative counseling or confidential spiritual direction? What if pastors had to complete a confidential “check-up” each year? On this last item, I suspect that I could provide an assessment (cheap, easy to complete questionnaires for pastor and spouse plus 3 hours of follow-up interview and goal setting) for under $400.

If these recommendations came before your congregation, what would the reaction be? Would there be resistance? Worry about expenses? Openness? I’m curious…

10 Comments

Filed under christian counseling, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, church and culture, counseling, pastoral renewal, pastors and pastoring

10 responses to “Prevention services for pastors?

  1. Jess

    Personally, I’d be all for it. It would be interesting to see how the average congregant would react. One of the things about counseling and related services is that their benefits are intangible, so unless someone truly understands the value it could possibly be a tough sell.

  2. Dan

    Would it be possible to see the whole survey and all the responses?

  3. Pingback: Prevention services for pastors « The Orthodox Clergy Wife by Presbytera Anonyma

  4. Some of my most challenging counseling work has been with pastors – and their families. Their ministry has become so much a part of their identity that they have difficulty discovering who they really are and naming what’s true about themselves.

    Since these people are usually making a difference for the kingdom, there is an element of spiritual warfare going on. The enemy has a vested interest in keeping them bogged down and absorbed in their stuff. But if they operate out of real integrity and a deep desire to be well, most are able to make some real progress.

    Their spouses and children … well, the hurt and pain that they struggle with is often greater because they’ve had little say in the role that the minister has chosen.

  5. A few years back, we in the ARP were trying to address this issue (perhaps they still are, I’m no longer on the board). It certainly needs to take place.
    Yet, I know the reticence and fear many will have. Pastors are an insecure lot, and many are driven by those fears to remain unknowable.
    I’d love to see us (reformed evangelicals) be more proactive in this area.

  6. april

    The pca just finished a study funded by eli lily that my husband, a pastor, and I were a part of. why pastors are leaving ministry and how to keep them, the entire family, healthy. You may want to check it out. It was run out of covenant seminary, called the center for leadership development.

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