Archives For Pastoral Ministry

Fewer people are attending church these days, and the reason is not what you think.

The Pew Research Center dropped a bombshell yesterday. The center for the study of religion in American life released a new study based on a survey of 35,000 Americans, which finds that Christians have declined sharply as a share of the population while the number of religiously unaffiliated and other faiths have continued to grow.

Though some see good news in the study for Evangelicalism, I strongly disagree. Though historically evangelical denominations may have gained about 2 million members, that gain was purely from “religious switching.” Evangelicals as a percentage of the US population declined by about 1 percent. There is no positive spin on the decline of Christianity in America.

Detail of the church seats with Bibles

The Pew research mirrors other data on the decline of church attendance, so it’s not really news. Still, it begs the question: Why don’t people go to church?

Continue Reading ⇒

Consumer behavior among church attendees results from a value-driven approach to ministry based on a corporate model for the church. This mistaken ideology is the central problem in North American Christianity.

Church is now a commodity rather than a community, and members increasingly approach worship with a consumer mind-set. That should be self-evident to any church leader, but it’s easy enough to substantiate.

Value Sphere Definition Meaning Importance Worth And High Value

Consider these actual statements heard from church members and visitors—

Continue Reading ⇒

I am a big fan of pastoral ministry, and I’ve written about that elsewhere. Yet I know that many people find the pastorate an uncomfortable fit and are quietly looking for a graceful exit.

The number is nowhere near the erroneous, unfounded, and gleefully over-reported figure of 1,700 pastors a month suffering burnout.

Man having an interview with manager and partner employment job

Even so, some pastors—like some lawyers, doctors, and plumbers—do want to change careers.

The problem is they don’t know how.

Continue Reading ⇒

An urban legend circulating around the church holds that pastoral ministry is the most highly stressed, undervalued profession on earth, and all pastors are miserable. In support, this factoid is nearly always given: “1,700 pastors leave the ministry each month.”

Open Door

You’ll see that number touted on blog after blog—always without a citation. This unverified datum flits around the Net like a vampire bat, sucking passion from ministers and their churches.

And it simply isn’t true.

Continue Reading ⇒

Is it possible to survive in pastoral ministry without being a kind of celebrity? Mark Driscoll, who has held both roles for a several years, says just the opposite. For him, the two are incompatible.

Crowd cheering - their rock idol or simply having fun in a club

He is right, of course. Pressure to live up to this insane expectation is the primary reason clergy are dropping like flies from pastoral ministry. It’s time we divorced the ideas of celebrity and spiritual shepherd once and for all.

Continue Reading ⇒

Most pastors know what they want to do, they just don’t know how to do it.

In other words, they usually know the answer to the first two of Andy Stanley’s leadership questions, but not the third. What are we doing? (Making disciples of Jesus Christ.) Why are we doing it? (Because Jesus is the hope of the world.)

bigstock-Empty-Rural-Road-Going-Through-48243419

Pastors get up every morning with that fire in their belly.

What’s less clear is the answer to Stanley’s third question: Where do I fit in?

Many pastors struggle to define their leadership style. They don’t know their unique role or contribution in the church.

Continue Reading ⇒

Thursday night prayer meeting is the highlight of my week, more important to me even than Sunday worship. Possibly that’s because I am more relaxed and better able to enter the experience. Even so, it is a solid rock on my calendar and I rarely miss.

bigstock-Man-Praying-4785565

What makes this hour rich and powerful is the prayer of a handful of mature brothers and sisters. They pray with the passion and intensity of that poor woman accosting the unjust judge. Their intercession is marked by reality and urgency, as if they know they are doing something of first importance.

When they pray, I want to pray too. And I want to know what they know so I can pray as they pray.

Continue Reading ⇒