Startling, depressing statistics on U.S. pastors

These statistics have been around for some time and the research was done in the 1990’s but they do strike a chord for us even today and in Singapore. The research was finished by the Schaeffer Institute, but quoted in Thabiti Anyabwile in a post titled, “Don’t Make Your Pastor A Statistic”. In the post he quoted the research of the former and I reproduce part of itΒ  here:

But if I am to believe some of the survey statistics published on pastors and their view towards the ministry, the vast majority of my fellow pastors do not feel this way and are not receiving proper care from their people. Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute:

Hours and Pay

90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.

50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.

70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

Training and Preparedness

90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.

90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they

thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.

Health and Well-Being

70% of pastors constantly fight depression.

50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if

they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Marriage and Family

80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.

80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.

80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.

Church Relationships

70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.

40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.

#1 reason pastors leave the ministry β€” Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.


50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.

1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.

4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.

These statistics are startling and sad. Dr Richard J. Krejcir commented about this epidemic:

“After over 18 years of researching pastoral trends and many of us being a pastor, we have found (this data is backed up by other studies) that pastors are in a dangerous occupation! We are perhaps the single most stressful and frustrating working profession, more than medical doctors, lawyers, politicians or cat groomers (hey they have claws). We found that over 70% of pastors are so stressed out and burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry (I only feel that way on Mondays).”

However if you want to get further depressed, read the original article on why U.S. pastors leave their churches in Statistics on Pastors by Dr Richard J. Krejcir. Needless to say, we need to pray for all our pastors. And give them regular sabbaticals!

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  • The first thing we need to do is to establish a fair basis/guideline for pastoral pay, much like what the govt is tasking Gerard Ee to do for ministerial salaries. Perhaps the National Council of Churches of Singapore can take the lead on this.

    I think New Creation Church’s pastors are paid well, although some may disagree and say, “too well” πŸ˜‰ However, I believe many pastors are not paid well, partly because of self-righteous attitudes of church members who equate high salaries for pastors with worldliness. They don’t think pastors should expect higher salaries since it is a calling, not a “job” but they fail to realize that a pastor can’t do his job well if he can’t even provide adequately for his family.

    Church members should ask themselves whether they would want to do their pastor’s job at his salary level. If the answer is no, then it is time for a salary adjustment.

    • Hi Stanley, certainly the financial support we give our pastors should be sufficient at least to cover his and his families needs in the different stages of life. Some denominations like the Methodist have used the graduate teacher’s pay as a benchmark. That might be a good idea, if the church can afford it. Many smaller churches cannot, and they despite trying their best, budget contraints due to high rentals, does hold back their good intentions. But for those that have the wherewithal they ought to follow your last piece of good advice.

  • Some pastors are paid well, yet they resigned and pursue other vocation. One of the pastors of NCC resigned and pursue other vocation closed to his calling. Money itself should not be a criteria in ministry. Some pastors go bi-vocational to pastor churches, I really salute these pastors it shows the genuine of their calling. Some churches are over staff & over stress their budget, without realizing their foolishness, yet they claim to walk by faith and leave the full time staff underpaid.

    • Thinker, Bi-vocational will increasingly be the way to go, in my humble opinion. It’s the spirit of the Brethren churches, a model of priesthood of the believers. However as a church grows beyond a certain size, the need of someone wholly devoted to the work of leading and preaching is needed. This may be bi-vocational or fully paid staff. Like you said we have to salute those who are bi-vocational. Churches are like volunteer organizations and often in these organizations staff salaries typically take a huge chunk off the total donations. You are right that leaving the full time staff underpaid, especially while there is money to give them what they need is just plain wrong.

  • Many people in Singapore are not well paid and have a hard time managing resources and juggling their priorities. Like the demographics, some are also extremely well paid and obscenely rewarded, especially in the finance sector.

    Boutiques cost more as economies of scale elude them. The small rural communities are dying as more farmland are being acquired by large multinationals.

    The question that is not being answered is whether the churches in their current as are still relevant to contemporary society. If it not, then money will become an in creasing constraint. If you constituents prosper, then the church has more resources. The reverse is also true.

    Money makes the world go round, maybe the bi-vocational route is the way to supplement incomes.

  • Methinks a lot of Christians at some point in their lives thought to devote time to doing the things of God especially when they are disillusioned with the secular world.

    The Ministry actually became an escape. They ran into it with rose tinted glasses and realised things are a lot tougher than thought. That church goers can be ugly, church politics can be disillusioning, finances can be tight esp if they are independent. Those who left for the fields as evangelists sometimes suffered the most due to unprepareness and lack of support.

    Most of all, their families sometimes suffer the most. I know of an evangelist whose children are very anti Christianity. Its sad that they sought to convert the world and ended up with children who reject God.

    Could it be they werent hearing God or are led by the Spirit….the fruits doesnt bear the mark of God.

  • wendy,
    I felt compelled to join in this conversation by what you said in your last line. I have heard of great men of god whose kids face twice or more the spiritual warfare faced by normal kids.. the enemy is really all out to discourage their parents who are in full time. This speaks to me of how we really need to pray and intercede for all pastors and all workers serving God wherever they are.

  • We should not give the devil unnecessary power over our lives – often the great men and women of God are not great parents. Like other successful professionals, vacationists many sacrifices were made in the quest for greatness. Work life balance is very hard to achieve.

  • Hi Jan

    I think so too… What I mean is really that there are really people who are called and those who think they are called. I have met disillusioned professionals who treat the calling as a escape to find that the call is not what it was. All kinds of things happen that doesnt flow and there are consequences. I have no doubt that God will convert the lemons into lemonades but the family suffers too in the period.

    The most heartening stories are the ones where the family is in it together and despite the hardships, the results of their work for God is evident in both their mission and in their family. Surely the devil can try to throw them lots of challenges but Jesus has overcomed the devil and the sheperd watches over his own.

    Often, I found those with the calling being prepared for by God over a number of years. Its not overnight.

    Actually, I think that if everyone in the church tithe properly, at least it ensures that the minister and his family have the neccessary support to concentrate on the ministry and spiritual health of the parish. That takes away quite a bit of problems. I remember one upset pastor commenting that members can bring their loved ones for an extravagant holiday but find it suspect when the pastor bought his family a trip to the USA….maybe the pastor has to live like a poor church mouse to fit into their holy moly image of what their spiritual leader should be.

    • Hi Wendy, Yes its wonderful that there are many who plod on in faith and perseverence despite the hardships, trials and pressures. There are also many who throw in the towel for all kinds of reasons: a sense of responsibility for the family’s welfare, breakdown in health, etc, or like you said, they realized that their best understanding of what God wanted of them, grew as they actually took steps of faith, and had to re-calibrate their route.

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