80% Will Leave The Ministry Within 5 Years

Here are a few quick stats to encourage sober minded students. I think this is a good reason to make seminary about perusing godliness. It also reminds us that local churches are the real seedbed for minsitry.

  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

People Skills = Godliness + Peacemaking

The failure point seem to be “people skills” and more specifically dealing with sinful people.  So if you want to beat the odds, become a peacemaker. (FYI: Ken Sande will be on campus next week)

  • 85% of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors.
  • 90% said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.

Thanks to Bobby Gilstrap for these stats.

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17 Responses to 80% Will Leave The Ministry Within 5 Years

  1. kevin hash says:

    as a SBTS grad I think that this reveals one of the greatest deficiencies of even a wonderful seminary like Southern.
    The only class I had that even touched on church politics on the nitty gritty level was Practice of Ministry with dr. york. Which was great, but not nearly enough.
    A required class that included an intense study of the book The Peacemaker by Ken Sande would reap so much fruit for the kindom and possibly be good preventative medicine for church splits and wasted careers.

  2. Ryan says:

    I used to pride myself as being one who “beat the odds” as I was in vocational ministry for 7 years. However, it would appear that I am now headed down a different path and, honestly, part of me feels like I am now just another ministry stat. I suspect I’ll be putting a whole post together about it over at GTS soon.

    Ryans last blog post..Check out the NTLSB

  3. Tony Kummer says:

    @Ryan: Have you made any public announcements about your new opportunity?

  4. Ryan says:

    Not yet… Today will make things more clear as to what the future holds for us. A second option presented itself yesterday and has made the process a bit more difficult… so, I’ve got a call today that should help clear things up a bit.

    Ryans last blog post..Check out the NTLSB

  5. Brent Hobbs says:

    While I am sure the reality is saddening, I find it really hard to believe some of those stats. They seem pretty inflated. I can’t find the survey or research methods on the Alban Institute’s website.

    But I think the main point you’re making is absolutely right.

  6. The more I hear stats like this, the more I am convinced that most of the problem is centered on our prayerlessness. I realize I am making a blanket statement, but I think generally speaking, it is a true statement.

  7. Additional comments and observations on this study from my original post are found on my Facebook NOTES at: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=39438797704

    Most comments are the words of active pastors in the field now, reflecting on past experience.

  8. Greg Alford says:

    And we are surprised?

    A seminary degree may get you an interview with the pulpit committee at First Church, and if you can deliver a good opening sermon perhaps it will even get you the job… However, the ministry is not a job… and God does not award degrees or give diplomas to validate his calling upon a young man’s life.

    Grace Always,

    Greg Alfords last blog post..Strong Coffee – No Longer Welcome in the SBC?

  9. Doug Smith says:

    Terry, I think that’s a good point. We neglect the means of grace God has provided for us to leave our cares with Him and draw strength from Him, and so burn-out is inevitable. Our pastor preached last week on the importance of prayer, the sin of prayerlessness, and how indifferent we often are to this sin and the consequences of it.

    Doug Smiths last blog post..Missing the Point of Prophecy

  10. Is it the prayerlessness of the people or the pastors? Or both? Prayer is critical but we must not ignore the practical.
    FYI: Lifeway Christian Resources recently published several articles on the “Top 5 Reasons for Pastoral Terminations.” The list includes:
    The Church Already in Conflict ; Leadership Style; Poor People Skills; The Church is Resistant to Change. The number 1 issue was “Control Issues over ‘Who runs the church?'” These articles are well worth the read at http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/article_main_page/0%2C1703%2CA%25253D167900%252526M%25253D200829%2C00.html?emid=22.
    Most seminarians graduate with little concept of what it really takes to lead a church. As a Director of Missions, I have seen too many students that come into a church with ideals of grandure but no real concept of the practical steps needed to build relationships with the congregation. Often time young pastors overlook the history of the congretation and are consumed with their own leadership. All of these things (plus more) manifest themselves into the potential severe relational problems for a pastor and congregation.
    I met just Tuesday night with a pastor search committee that fired their “fresh out of seminary” pastor 4 years, 9 months ago. The church was so damaged, they have still not found another full-time pastor.

  11. Kevin Hash says:

    Perhaps one problem is a lack of counseling of young men when they are first considering a call to ministry.
    I know that a lot of young people today, especially today, who love theology, automatically assume that means they should go to seminary and be a pastor.

    Perhaps older pastors could save young men some time and heartache by sharing wise counsel when they are first thinking about going into ministry.

    Does anyone have any articles that you have found particularly with regard to calling?

  12. Tony Kummer says:

    @Kevin Hash: The only one I know is Dr. Mohler’s from a previous issue of The Tie. I seem to remember Dr. Akin posted something similar at SEBTS.

  13. John Mark Inman says:

    As one who finished seminary and never actually made it into ministry, I’m glad these people are getting out within 5 years instead of after 20.

    At least within 5 years you’re still young enough to “start over” with a new job in a new field, get legitimate health insurance, have marketable skills and such. So at least they won’t be stuck doing ministry when they longer want to or feel called to, which is bad for everybody involved.

    I think it will be a growing trend as there are fewer and fewer churches who can support full time pastors.

  14. The sheep are without shepherds…I clicked on Greg Alford’s site and read an entry about the ‘anti-Calvinists,’ which is indicative of the state of many churches. Mine recently rejected a very qualified youth minister in part because he was reformed, and selected a new pastor in part because he did not openly admit that he was (I still don’t know whether he is).

    Yet is is precisely semper reformanda that most churches need (you Latin buffs forgive me if I misspelled). The tendency toward Arminianism (and its more nefarious ancestor — Pelagianism) in deacon selection, teacher training, evangelism, discipleship and church discipline is nigh irresistible, and must be met unabashedly with constant reform via the doctrines of grace.

    One question of prospective pastors to their prospective flocks might be “Are you Reformed, and always reforming?”

    Dealing with problem people is certainly part of the pastor’s charge. But without Reformed (biblical) doctrine driving the bus of gospel ministry — in peacemaking, reconciliation, and discipline — those challenges can certainly lead to pastoral despair.

    Rob Faircloths last blog post.."Sablogical" — sabbatical for bloggers

  15. I don’t see the root problem so much as “idealistic young seminary grads” as I do the fact that older men in the ministry do not mentor younger men into ministry (2 Tim 2:2). This, to me, is what is most needed and most neglected. Seminary alone does not prepare a man for the pastorate. Everyone admits it, but who does anything about it?

    Massimo Lorenzinis last blog post..Four Stages on the Journey to Meaning

  16. We have been discussing these statistics from my original post (http://acts-5-29.blogspot.com/2008/09/pastoral-statistics.html) on several sites. My friend, Dr. Rod Harrison, sent me the following information that helps to clarify information for SBC schools. Maybe someone can come up with info on SBTS (or other SBC schools).
    63% of MDiv grads from denominationally owned schools are still in congregational ministry after 10 years (Auburn Studies, No. 13, November 2007 ISBN: 0-9747358-3-3). Hope this information helps. BTW, this is a great study with lots of information. Most ATS seminaries contuct an alumni study every 10 years (once per accreditation cycle.) Midwestern Baptist will likely do our study in 2009-2010. Of those in non-MDiv programs (MA, etc…) the numbers are higher. For example, many of the MACE students are women, and take time off to have families. However, those numbers are still over 50%. BTW, those from “non-denominational” schools are about 10% less likely to still be in ministry after 10 years.

    bobby gilstraps last blog post..Pastoral Statistics

  17. Tony Kummer says:

    @bobby gilstrap: Thanks again for your post and the updates. This is something that I’ve heard a lot of guys talking about.

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