Just read Charles Stone’s book Five Ministry Killers. In this book, Stone pulls from some recent research by Barna and Lifeway on what frustrates pastors, what leads them to leave their church, and what frustrates those who attend church.
All throughout Scripture, the churches are called to make leadership for their pastors a joy so that the pastors lead well and the church is blessed. It is a cycle. The problem is that many get off track (both churches and pastors) and pastors don’t lead well and it is not a joy.
The five ministry killers that Stone looks at are:
- Head-in-the-sand mentality.
- Misdirected emotional investment.
- Unhealthy responses to ministry killers.
- An attitude that “God and I can handle this.”
- Lonely, hurting spouse.
What the research found is that the number one reason a pastor leaves a church is because he is lonely and does not have any safe friends and the second reason is that their wife experiences the same.That is sobering when you read that. It is difficult for pastors to make friends in the church for a variety of reasons. It is hard to know who you can trust. It is hard to open up and take off the pastor hat and just be a guy. Many people in church don’t want to be the pastor’s friend, they just want to be close to the power. It is hard for a pastor’s wife because she doesn’t know if you want to use her to get to her husband. The book also pointed out that many aren’t friends with a pastor’s wife because they think she is handling life well and if she needs anything, “she lives with the pastor, so she has an advantage.”The book focused a lot on the idea of making sure a leader has safe people in their lives to open up to, share frustrations, and have people who will lovingly challenge them with the gospel when needed. Stone points out, “If pastors are to experience longevity in ministry, we need safe people in our lives.” But what is a safe person? “Truly safe people carry their own wounds and scars, yet they don’t allow them to get stuck in their pain. Rather, difficulties strengthen their character and make them appealing.”
The reason this is important is because according to Daniel Goleman, “Great leaders excel in four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.”
The other thing that was scary was that 80% of pastor’s and 84% of pastor’s wives are discouraged in ministry or dealing with depression. That is crazy.
What was also fascinating was that over 50% of those who attend church, when asked what frustrates their pastor in ministry or is frustrated about their church, they said, “I can’t think of anything that would frustrate my pastor.”
The killer in ministry for pastor’s, their wives and those attending church is that they are like ships passing in the night. They don’t know how to work together to be the church and for leadership to be a joy.
If you are a pastor or a pastor’s wife, you should read this book. The chapter on being a pastor’s wife was really good, so many great ways on how to support a pastor and his wife. The reality that a pastor leaves a church because of what is going in his wife’s life, for that to be the number 1 reason a pastor leaves a church, should change how churches support a pastor and his wife if they want a pastor to have longevity at a church.
If you attend a church, this a great book to read to learn how to be a better supporter of your pastor and his wife so that ministry is a joy and you can fulfill what God has called you to as someone who is part of a church.