I’m just beginning to build a new blog/info site for ministry leaders at: http://pastorrenewal.wordpress.com. While I am building the site, I am looking for others to provide me links and information we can post there. I want it to contain free stuff and links to services that might be helpful for those in ministry who are feeling burned out.
This blog (Musings) will still be my main focus but I want to have a site that will be more attractive to pastors, missionaries, and their families.
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…
The concept behind workers’ compensation (WC) insurance is that employees have coverage for injuries sustained on the job (and secondarily that if they get the compensation that they won’t sue their employer). Nowadays all US states have WC laws.
But, what if churches provided or paid into a fund to provide spiritual workers’ comp? While I suppose pastors could fall out of the pulpit on the job, strain their vocal chords, get a typing injury, most won’t. But, I would contend that most pastors suffer under the weight of the pastoral care needs of their congregation. Being exposed repeatedly to crises, conflict, attack, and other weighty matters, pastors may become broken themselves. Imagine if churches or denominations provided recovery care for these matters. Just as in worker’s comp, there might be requirements that the pastor go to a specific specialist.
Wouldn’t this be novel? Of course WC doesn’t do prevention work–which is what pastors need. But, it might get a congregation to admit that exposing a pastor to endless supplies of brokenness is going to create brokenness in the pastor.
last March Biblical Seminary ran a daylong seminar for ministry leaders and their spouses. Podcasts of the plenary and break-out sessions are now available here for a very low price: http://www.biblical.edu/pages/connect/hazardoustoyourhealt0309podcasts.htm
Consider buying some and giving to your pastor and spouse. Other leaders like missionaries, elders, deacons, parachurch workers, etc. would likely benefit.
Off to NYC to talk to a group of pastors regarding their spiritual and relational health. My basic point: unique stressors of ministry plus unmet personal/professional expectations equals stress responses that either destroy or strengthen a pastor. No rocket science here but I hope to get them thinking about some practical steps they might take to ensure their own renewal. Some Shepherds tend, I’m sorry to say, to focus on the care of the sheep but neglect their own care–thus forgetting they themselves are sheep.
Interested in a summary of research on the unique situation of pastors? Check out the “slides” page for a brief paper written by me last year for a group of us meeting to dream about starting a center for multi-level care for christian leader families.