Saturday, November 14

Has pastoral ministry become too demanding?

STORY on the Covenant website:
"The average lifetime length of service for an active pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church is only 11 years, according to statistics recently compiled by the denomination’s pension plan." ~ link
That doesn't sound right. Perhaps if you figured in the large number of staff ministers, many of whom have temporary credentials and don't see pastoral ministry as a life-long vocation, 11 years might be accurate. OR it could be that because the denomination has expanded so fast that the number of people with short-term service is a lot greater than those with long-term service.

Who knows what those stats really mean!

I have also begun to question the notion that "excessive pastoral demands" are shortening ministry careers.

Yes, we can all point to some unhealthy churches which are overly demanding and which need a kick in the ecclesiastical butt -- or need to be disbanded. I've even gone through some stressful times at various points in my "ministerial career." But I'd have a hard time saying that any of the churches I've served have been "excessively demanding."

The work is hard and occasionally the hours are really long but all the churches I've worked with have bent over backward to be accommodating -- even when we're not all seeing everything eye-to-eye.

On top of that, there is a great deal of flexibility in the pastoral rhythm -- unless the pastor thinks that he or she can be all things to all people -- some kind of messiah. There are pastors who see themselves as being so important that they tightly schedule every moment of the day in order to squeeze in as much "ministry" as possible -- and then complain that they are suffocating. But those excessive pastoral demands are generated from within.

I'm not terribly sympathetic to the pastor who says, "I haven't had a free evening in 10 days." My perhaps too snarky stock under-breath response has become -- "and whose fault is that?"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Brad, I read this article too and just thought it was pastors leaving the Covenant (for more/better job opportunities), not that they were leaving the ministry. I didn't see anything in this report that talked about followup with pastors leaving the Covenant to see if they were in pastoral roles elsewhere. This trend is going to happen more by being more inclusive in letting people in who haven't done the old North Park requirement, but I think it's still necessary as the Covenant expands and grows.