October is Clergy Appreciation Month, and I encourage everyone reading this article to spread the word to say “thanks” to a pastor.
Please don’t just stop with your pastor, but say it to as many pastors as you can. You have no idea how much this is needed. Being a pastor is one of the most demanding yet unappreciated jobs. Allow me to share with you some startling statistics concerning pastors (statistics provided by The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.):
• 90 percent of the pastors report working between 55-75 hours per week.
• 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor's children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
• 75 percent report a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
• 80 percent of pastors and 84 percent of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
• 50 percent feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
• 70 percent do not have someone they consider a close friend.
• 40 percent report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
• 70 percent of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
• 50 percent of the ministers starting out will not last five years.
• 1 out of every 10 ministers actually will retire as a minister in some form.
• 94 percent of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor's ministry.
• 80 percent of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
• 80 percent spouses feel left out and underappreciated by church members.
• 80 percent of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose a different profession.
• The profession is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above car salesman.
• 4,000 new churches begin each year, and 7,000 churches close.
• Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
• Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
• Many denominations report an “empty pulpit crisis.” They cannot find ministers willing to fill positions.
There were other stats that I could have added, but these should paint a clear picture of the silent crisis facing pastors.
So, let’s lift the hands of those called to lead us by showing appreciation for their labor. Recently, my church and other pastors, along with their congregations, gathered to show me appreciation. To me, it was a time of healing and renewal. I want say thanks to each of them and every pastor who reads this article.
Remember, your labor is not in vain. Press on!
Brown is the senior pastor of Destiny Christian Center and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.