Andrew Chapman

Sobering Statistics on Pastors

I read a sobering post from Thabiti Anyabwile this morning over on 9Marks.  He gives several statistics on pastors, as compiled in a survey by the Schaeffer Institute.  If you have a chance, take a look at the whole post, and the Schaeffer suvey.

Some things that jumped out to me include:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Notice these seminary-related stats:

  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • 60% to 80% of those who enter the ministry will not still be in it 10 years later, and only a fraction will stay in it as a lifetime career
  • 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.
  • 26% of pastors said they regularly had personal devotions and felt they were adequately fed spirituality.


So what are we to make of this?  Some things for the seminarian to consider:

  • You may not be doing ministry for the rest of your life.  In fact, the odds are against it.
  • Find ways to make yourself marketable in the secular workplace.
  • Whether we’re in ministry or not, we should always have professional fallback plans in mind.  Lots of people have to leave their jobs unexpectedly.
  • Supplement your academic training with hands-on church work.
  • Get real about your expectations for your future ministry.
  • Make your personal devotional times utterly holy.  Don’t trade them in for anything.  Cling to the life-giving word of God.

Written by Andrew Chapman

May 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Posted in Church

2 Responses

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  1. Andrew: I’m curious, but doubt if you can find an answer: how many of the surveyed pastors were some variety of Presbyterian? I think the answer to that question will scatter at lest some of the more gloomy predictions.

    Howard Childers

    May 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    • Good point. I don’t think the survey tells us more than that 1050 pastors were surveyed in 2 conferences in 2005 & 2006. Perhaps the statistics are less indicative of the Presbyterian Church?

      Andrew Chapman

      May 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm

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