Pastors Overworked; Numbers Underchecked

May 30, 2006 by

Everybody and their brother is linking to a post by Mark Driscoll about how pastors are overworked. Amen. We’ve said this before and it’s definitely true. Driscoll offers some good signs a pastor may be overworked and some potential solutions. Worth the read.

However. The piece also includes a section of some shocking statistics (50% of pastors get divorced, 70% fight depression, 40% have cheated on their spouse, etc.) credited to a presentation by Darrin Patrick who apparently gathered the info from Barna and Focus on the Family. No direct links or specific attribution is given.

We’ve seen this before, too. Frightening numbers about pastors at risk that aren’t necessarily accurate. Last time we couldn’t track down the original source, but did determine that it was at least 20 years old. This time around we don’t know (I tried to contact Patrick by phone and e-mail to no avail). I’m not saying the numbers are wrong, I’m just saying the citation isn’t there. So take them with a grain of salt. As Homer Simpsons would say, “People can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of all people knows that.”

Of course the reliability of the stats doesn’t change Driscoll’s message. Whatever the numbers are, pastors do get burned out. Let’s support our church leaders and not push them over the edge. But let’s do it with verified information.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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4 Responses to “Pastors Overworked; Numbers Underchecked”

  • Greg Marquez
    May 31, 2006

    That’s what I told my wife after reading a blurb about Mark Driscoll’s post. The numbers just don’t seem right based on our experience. The number related to seminary graduates who leave the ministry after a year or so sounds about right but that’s probably true in a lot of professions. But the numbers of pastors who leave the ministry doesn’t reflect my real world experience.
    And to be perfectly frank there are a lot of jobs which are much more stressful than pastoring.

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  • Paul
    June 1, 2006

    This like this often make me think of two things:
    1) The brethren church my wife attended for a while after college, where the men shared the pastoral duties. There was no “pastor.”
    2) Other models for churches, such as house churches in China, or the multi-site idea, and how having “pastors” isn’t really a biblical sanction in the way we do it – though it’s not all bad.

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  • Kevin Cawley
    June 2, 2006

    I was present when Darrin Patrick shared these stats in his message at the Reform & Resurge conference. I was reminded of the types of stats that Steve Farrar cites in his book Finishing Strong. Driscoll’s stats might not be the exact studies that Farrar cites, but if you’re looking for documented statistics in this regard, check out Farrar’s book.

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  • Bill Hutchison
    June 5, 2006

    Regardless of how accurate the stats are burnout is a constant problem for those in full time ministry. I have seen too many people burn out while trying to serve God to their fullest, without looking after themselves enough.

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