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H. B. London: Stemming the Tide of Clergy Fallout

 

H. B. London Jr., “Stemming the Tide of Clergy Fallout: Lessons from a Marriage” Enrichment (Winter 2003), pages 42-51.

Dr. London and the pastoral ministry team at Focus on the Family take an insightful look at the contemporary problem of ministers leaving the ministry. They take the rich picture of marriage and compare it to the relationship between the church and those who lead the church.

As I read this article, I reflected on the 40 years I have been privileged to be in the ministry. I know from talking with many young ministers that they really have no idea what to expect or what may happen in the work of the ministry.

Theme from the Winter 2003 issue of Enrichment.

Though I had heard the statistics before, it is hard to read that 23 to 27 percent of pastors have experienced a forced termination at some time in their ministry. When I read in this article that the Southern Baptist Convention reported that 23 of their pastors are terminated each week; my heart was broken. What may be happening to these persons and their families, not to mention the repercussion that it would have on the congregation, is very painful. I have observed that when a pastor failed or the church leadership requested the pastor to resign that so many times the congregation floundered, and the next pastor coming in had to rebuild the congregation.

“To say the role of the pastor is a difficult assignment is a great understatement; but like all relationships, it can be very fulfilling when it functions well. It also can be hurtful when it is sabotaged. The bond between pastor and church is so much like a marriage that it would be appropriate to draw some comparisons to building strong families” (page 44). For example, if good communication does not exist between the pastor and the congregation, there will be much misunderstanding.

Congregations often have a tendency to expect unrealistic goals for a pastor. In the article is pointed out that George Barna has said that congregations expect the pastor to fulfill 17 to 20 roles, be available 24/7 and to perform all of the roles at a high level. Because of this pressure a pastor may leave a church or even drop out of the ministry entirely. It is when pastors think they are the only one doing anything in the ministry that mentally and emotionally they will feel alone and isolated.

I talked to a colleague recently who is now driving a truck to make a living. He commented to me that, “It is refreshing to have a job that is not stressful on me and my family.” I asked myself this question, “God, was he called into fulltime ministry?” If he was, how does he live with the fact of the call? Now I realize that he could be an effective witness in his occupation. However, this is an example of the importance of how all of the church needs to be equipped to do the work of the ministry so that so much is not expected of the pastor.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2003

About the Author: Carl J. Halquist retired in 2014, most recently serving as the Senior and Visitation Pastor at Trinity Assembly of God in Mt. Morris, Michigan. In full-time ministry since 1964, Pastor Carl has served Assemblies of God churches in California, Indiana, and Michigan and served as a Sectional Presbyter for the Assemblies of God, Michigan District for 5 years. Carl and his wife, Sandy, live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area and he continues to provide pulpit supply for the Michigan District of the Assemblies of God.

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