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Stress filled working conditions and even forced terminations are continuously decimating one of Christ’s most cherished resources, the ministers of His church. Once upon a time, I experienced this myself and retired, but not happily. I needed time away from ministry to heal, forgive, and wait upon the Lord’s call. But I am not alone in this experience.
Southern California psychologist Richard Blackmon suggested that about 75% of ministers go through a period of stress so great that they consider quitting the ministry 1.
This is because clergy often abuse themselves through unrealistic expectations, schedules and deferred self-care. Ninety percent of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and forty percent of pastors report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month 2.
This is hardly the way to prepare for the seemingly inevitable challenges and conflicts among persons in the local church.
Clergy losses from formal positions of service are massive too.
According to studies by the Alban Institute and Fuller Seminary, 50 percent of ministers drop out of ministry within the first five years and many never to go back to church again 3.
A Duke University study found that 90% of all pastors will not stay to retirement 4.
The stats are unnerving but there’s help out there. A trusted friend and advocate for clergy and their families is Ministering to Ministers (MTM).
MTM has supplied an enviable cadre of professionals, who are largely volunteers, to perform personal and group therapy, conflict resolution, help with personal finances, ministry, legal and career guidance for a quarter of a century.
This ministry has offered immediate staff support, trained clergy covenant partners for rocky seasons, resources, workshops and retreats for thousands of ministers in crisis along with their spouses and families. I am thankful to speak as a retreat alumnus, participant in workshops, and eventual leader in both.
This effort took a breathtaking happy step forward by joining the esteemed Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) at Columbia Theological Seminary.
The CLL’s partnership with MTM in training retreat leadership for clergy is the cross fertilization of ideas between the two agencies. They have a mutual commitment to provide ongoing support to clergy and their leadership compliments MTM programming. Together, I know a productive future lies ahead.
I hope you will connect, participate, and join me in lending your support to this exciting initiative in clergy care at Center for Lifelong Learning.
To learn more about the Ministering to Ministers Program, click here.
Dr. James B. Johnson II
Pastor, Kilmarnock Baptist Church, Kilmarnock, Virginia
Former Board Member, the Ministering to Ministers Foundation.