In October 2018, I began reaching out to pastors. I was coming out of a season of burnout and depression after giving nearly two years to the church I started. Because of that, I knew other pastors and ministry leaders were experiencing what I was on varying levels. I didn’t want them to walk the road alone, so I started sending messages to the ones I knew, asking them how I could pray for them. The responses confirmed what I already knew. In my heart, I knew I wanted to minister to those in ministry.
Why would this be a necessary ministry? Don’t pastors and Christian leaders have homies they hang with all the time (gotta love the word choice😂)? Often, the answer is no. Ministry leaders are often competitive and are out to have the biggest church. But that’s not the main problem! Many pastors feel they trust anyone. What if they were vulnerable and talked about their real struggles? They are expected to minister to the world, but who will minister to them.
Here are a few quotes I think will help solidify the need:
“…everyone comes to me for pastoral care and advice, even my extended family and friends. Who does the pastor get to go to. Yes, God, but God has given us brothers in the ministry to lean on and hold us accountable and hear confession/offer absolution.”
“I believe that every pastor should have a pastor. We as pastors are human. We sin, we fall short, we feel discouraged, and we carry many burdens of others. It’s heathy for a pastor to ‘unload,’and be pastored along the way.”
“When I was just a church member, I had guidance, advice, empathy, understanding, biblical training and edification from my pastor. Now that I’m pastor, I dont have that any more. I give that to others, but I have nowhere to turn for my own needs.”
Here are some poll results I gathered:
I asked this question, to which 90 pastors answered: Pastors, do you have someone (humanly speaking) to talk to about the deep things on your heart and the issues that arise in your ministry? Someone you can trust and completely be yourself with? Thirty-nine percent said, “No”.
I also asked this question, to which 31 pastors answered: Pastors, if you needed/desired counseling, would you be able to afford it financially? Seventy-one percent said, “No”.
Look at these statistics from pastoralcareinc.com:
- 80% 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.
- 65% of pastors feel their family lives in a “glass house” and fear they are not good enough to meet expectations.
- 35% of pastors report the demands of the church denies them from spending time with their family.
- 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
- Moral values of a Christian are no different than those who consider themselves as non-Christians.
- The average American will tell 23 lies a day.
- 57% of pastors believe they do not receive a livable wage.
- 57% of pastors being unable to pay their bills.
- 53% of pastors are concerned about their future family financial security.
- 75% of pastors report significant stress-relatedcrisis at least once in their ministry.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once in the last year.
- 35% of pastors battle depression or fear of inadequacy.
- 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider to be a close friend.
- 27% of pastors report not having anyone to turn to for help in a crisis situation.
- 34% of pastors wrestle with the temptation of pornography or visits pornographic sites.
- 84% of pastors desire to have close fellowhip with someone they can trust and confide with.
- 1 out of every 10 pastors will actually retire as a pastor.
Sarah Eekhod Zylstra wrote, “More than half of pastors have counseled people who were later diagnosed with a mental illness (59 percent), and about a quarter say they’ve experienced some type of mental illness themselves (23 percent). According to LifeWay, 12 percent have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.”
Our state of South Carolina has led the nation in pastoral suicides for quite a few years. The need for ministry to pastors is great!
I have been both on the side of looking to a pastor for spiritual direction and being the pastor who provides spiritual direction. It’s a tough place to be. With these realities stated here, pastors need pastors too. That is why I became a Shepherd with Standing Stone.
Standing Stone provides confidential care to lead pastors, associates of sorts (discipleship, executive, worship, student, etc.), leaders of parachurch organizations, missionaries, etc. We understand that healthy pastors lead healthy churches. That health includes physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health.
If you would like to find out more about this kind of ministry, please reach out to me at Matthew.firstname.lastname@example.org.