Is There a Shortage of Pastors Where You Are? Why is this so?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Major B, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. Major B

    Major B
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    The News Item below does not surprise me. Right now, there is a shortage of pastors in our area, and there are probably 20 former pastors who belong to our congregation!


    "Small Kentucky churches face vacancies in pulpit
    August 24, 2008 12:26 PM

    LOUISVILLE, Ky.
    Some churches are in need of what many may consider an absolute necessity for a house of worship.
    Churches of a variety of denominations do not have permanent pastors.

    Eight churches in Kentucky's West Union Baptist Association are without pastors. The association is composed of Southern Baptist churches in McCracken and Ballard counties. Eight more are without pastors in another association made up of churches in Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton counties.

    Dr. Rick Dye of the Paducah district of the United Methodist Church says Methodist churches are reaching a national crisis.

    The Rev. Ray Provow of the West Kentucky Baptist Association says that preachers retiring earlier contributes to the shortage of pastors. He says merging some smaller churches may be the answer."
     
    #1 Major B, Aug 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2008
  2. ajg1959

    ajg1959
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    My wife and I were looking for a church home in southern KY, and visited a church that had just fired their pastor.

    The church wanted him as a full time pastor but said it couldnt afford to provide him and his family with health insurance, nor did they pay him enough to buy his own. He came down with a serious illness and was hospitalised for over a month, racking up over $200,000 in medical bills.

    The church said it couldnt afford to help him pay the bill, so he filed for bankruptcy to avoid losing his home. (He has a wife and 3 small children) The church then voted to fire him because they said that it was wrong for a pastor to file bankruptcy and not pay his bills.

    I am not advocating that people get into the ministry for the money, but I am saying that some churches need to take better care of their pastors. Perhaps there would be more of them if they didnt have to worry about medical bills and basic needs for their families.

    Just my thoughts

    AJ
     
  3. Major B

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    Being from Southwestern Kentucky myself, I am not surprised at the attitude--the problem was theirs, but they fired the pastor.

    The Happiest day in the life of a church is the day they call their wonderful new pastor. The second happiest day in the life of a church is when they "fire the bum."
     
    #3 Major B, Aug 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2008
  4. TomVols

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    You have a lot of factors at play. Some men are just fed up with the mess of some churches. Many seminarians want to teach or do something else. And then there's the issue of divorced men, which most SBC churches have a faulty theology there (for instance, a friend who was divorced prior to conversion and churches repeatedly wouldn't call him as pastor because of it).

    I read somewhere that there was a time when there was three ordained SB preachers for every SB church. In the not too distant future, there will be one pastor for every three SB churches. Something's gotta give.

    When was the last time you've been to an ordination service? Our association used to see one per year ordained at least. I don't think we've ordained a man to ministry in a few years, and from what I hear that's pretty typical.
     
  5. Rhetorician

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    Not so!

    Not so in the Memphis and Nashville, TN areas. One must have to get out into the rural areas. You cannot throw a rock and not hit a Baptist preacher here in these big cites b/c of the denom HQ and Mid America.

    The fact of the mater is, I can hardly get an appointment to preach.

    Go figure!:laugh:

    I guess I will just have to stay in the classrooms and exercise my gifts and callings and education there.

    "That is all!"
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    Let me try this theory, complete with no empirical evidence,

    A large number of Baptist churches are in rural areas, small towns, and are generally small to medium size (say, 150-300 members. Most are fairly traditional in their worship, evangelism, missions and outreach. Contemporary worship music would not be welcome.

    As the older, traditionalist pastors retire or die, the churches find themselves philosophically incompatible with the new-fangled ideas and practices of the younger preachers. The younger worship leaders wouldn't know a Southern Gospel song if it hit them in the face, and many of them have never sung a traditional hymn.

    The result is that the younger pastors, fresh out of seminary, don't get called to those traditionalist churches, which are great for first pastorates and one-the-job training. And if they are called, they're likely to decline. They're just not compatible.

    Please look past the generalities in my comments and tell me if there's any truth in there somewhere. My frame of reference is the georgraphical area of Western Kentuckiy and Tennessee, and I realize that's a pretty narrow focus.
     
  7. abcgrad94

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    TB, your argument is valid. I'm from south central KY, just spittin' distance from Tennessee. Compatibility, though, is just one problem. Another is that churches in these rural areas just can't or won't pay enough for a family to live on, and if the pastor is willing to be bi-vocational, jobs in the area are scarce.

    Three years ago we seriously considered a church in western KY. We had no problem with the conservative music, etc, but the church expected our family of four to live on $18,000 a year without health insurance. We still would have had to pay for utility, gas, groceries, phone bill, etc as the church couldn't afford to pay for those bills. I was needing surgery at the time. The "parsonage" was an ancient doublewide with holes in the walls big enough for a cat to fit through. The floor was rotted and sagging and the mold smell triggred several asthma attacks for me the weekend we stayed there while my hubby candidated. We LOVED the church and really clicked with the people there, but because of my health problems (I couldn't breathe in the parsonage) and the lack of funds or proper housing, we sadly had to look elsewhere. We hated to do it, but there was no other housing available or even for sale in the area, and there was no way we could live on such a tiny salary with no other jobs there. The church folks were very loving people, but they did inform us we would have to apply for welfare there because they couldn't afford to pay much.

    Really, one would need to be sent as a missionary to a place like this and have other funds coming in for support. That, or maybe a young single man right out of college without a wife or children to support would be best.
     
  8. tank1976

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    Most churches I have talked with( these are mostly SBC churches) will not even look at a single man as their pastor. That is one of the first questions I am asked. When I tell them I am single that usually ends the talking. Can you imagine that happening in any other profession? Now I have heard all the reasons why they want a "family" man, but I have found that a minister's family is his greatest help or his great problem. I have seen this time and time again.

    As for these smaller churches not being able to afford to pay pastors more - that is not always true. I have dealt with several churches in my area ( southern IL. ) that have money in the bank but don't ever spend it. They may be unwilling to try new things, but those same churches just like things the way they are. I talked with one church that has very few members ( less than 20). 50 years ago they planned another church in the same town and now that church has over 200 per Sunday. One man in this church said to me that he had been there since 1940 something. It took every thing in me to not say, " So I guess you are one of the ones who has let this church dwindle down to almost no one." God held my tongue on that one.

    I don't mean to sound rough or anything like that, but this problem of not enough pastors for churches is not really the ministers fault. I have seem more churches than I care to say that want this for a pastor:
    THis is for full-time churches-
    35-50 years old ( at the oldest)
    married ( prefer man with kids)
    10 years senior pastoring experience
    A Seminary degree from one of the 6 SBC Seminaries
    Full-time
    Salary: 25,000 before taxes ( this is the whole package)

    As for bivocational churches the list is so varied I couldn't begin to write it out.

    Now I know all churches are in different situations. I am not trying to attack them it is just very hard to not unload on some of these search committees that potential pastors deal with.

    I will say this- I never want to be at a church that God is not calling me to. The thing is some of these churches are hurting the very men that God could use to help heal their local church body.
    I pray that God raises up men to serve Him in spite of these dysfunctional local church bodies.
     
  9. StefanM

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    The low pay is the big issue. It's hard to expect someone with a graduate education, a family, and several years of experience to take a position that comes with entry-level (at best) pay. Most likely, the people who would "qualify" are already in at least a comparable position.
     
  10. tank1976

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    I agree. Of course, this goes back to the local church that states that they can not find a pastor. I have seen God send many godly men to churches as possible pastors, but the churches pass on the men. They then go 1 1/2 -2 years without a pastor. That is hard for a church to recover from. The lack of a true pastoral shepherd of the local church body, for a long amount of time, can really handicap a church.

    The one that makes me shake my head and grieves my heart is the committee that surveys the church for the type of pastor they want. NOw on the surface that is fine, but committees can let that survey lead them more than God. The pastor that you want and the pastor that the church really needs may be two different things. Church body input is important, but true prayer and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit is much more important.
     
  11. Joseph M. Smith

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    We here in DC do not have the problem of not enough pastors. We have plenty of people who are trained, ordained, and still waiting. The church I served as pastor before retiring four years ago produced eight seminary students during my latter years there, and all but one have graduated by now. But only one is serving in a church, as a part-time associate pastor; the others have had to take on secular positions and try to start new congregations, etc. Our churches are weakening and are not calling staff members as they used to.

    Tomorrow I start teaching the class in Baptist Polity at Wesley Seminary, for the third time. It will be interesting to see if we can not only train these students but also place them. I do wish Baptists had a more successful placement service. American Baptist Personnel Services works to a degree within that denomination, but if you are not ABC, then where do you turn?
     
  12. Major B

    Major B
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    I think what Tom Butler said was right on. Churches want everything, and many of them pay little, plus they have a track record of running off pastors every 2-3 years.

    From the moment a new pastor arrives at the typical BCC (Bad Country Church) you are scrutinzed, you wife is "put in her place," and people decide they either like you or not based on three conversations carried on the vestibule on successive Sunday mornings.

    Pastors' wives are a major factor now. Though most of them are as dedicated to the Lord as their husband, many of them have a career, many of them are as educated as their husbands, and moving out of the city to East Hadley Kentucky, with one convenience store , two softball fields, an abandoned school, and a Volunteer FD--that is not the young pastor's wife's dream at all. The good folk of the church want the pastor's family living right next to the church in "the church's house," and they want to be able to drop in any time to snoop around or complain. The move to the country often means leaving a good private school or good public schools for less-achieving ones. Neither the kids nor the pastor and his wife will ever REALLY be part of the community, because they were not born there.

    Meanwhile, they have the option of moving to Louisville or another seminary city, teaching an adjunct course or two, and working as free labor in a megachurch, waiting for a staff job to open up.

    Don't laugh--I could put a name on every circumstance.
     
    #12 Major B, Aug 29, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2008
  13. dh1948

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    My take

    I think there are multiple reasons why there is a shortage of pastors, especially in rural areas. Here are a couple:

    1. As has been mentioned, the pay is an issue for pastors who are seeking vocational pastorates. When I was called to preach and finished seminary, it was considered to be very unspiritual to even ask about pay, let alone to let it come into play when considering accepting a call. Many rural churches are primarily made up of older people who are retired and very frugal. In their mind, they think a pastor who has a family can live on what they themselves are drawing in social security and retirement income.

    2. Younger preachers have more options today than they did when I was a young preacher. Back then, few churches had fulltime staff. Most preachers had three options: pastor, evangelist, or missionary. Some of the very large churches had fulltime ministers of music and youth, but that was about the extent of staff opportunities. I don't know any statistics, but I suspect that the majority of students in SBC seminaries are preparing themselves for some "specialized" area of ministry.

    A few weeks ago I was speaking to a retired pastor who is doing an interim at a church that at one time ran 600-700 in attendance...about 20 years ago. The church now runs around 75. The church leadership complains that it cannot find a pastor. I am not surprised. The church has been through three pastors in the last ten years. The church refused to reach out to the community when it "changed colors." It didn't discern the times and lost out on opportunities to reach its community. The few people who are left are "keeping the faith" and refuse to change its methods. The shame is that the church has no clue of why it is in the shape it is in. I have little sympathy for such churches, and can't imagine a pastor wanting to be their next sacrificial lamb.
     
  14. Major B

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    Well, I've been the lamb at least three times, and I am bled out. More specifically, my wife is burned out. In many ways, I am the ideal candidate for some of these churches. I have a job, I am experienced, and my personal schooling days are over.
     
  15. exscentric

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    In the northwest there seem to be a lot of extras floating around. In the little church down the street there was the pastor, the assist. that was an ex and another ex. They rely on retired men and they seldom have trouble finding one around somewhere to fill in or pastor - I think it is called a warm body :laugh:

    The charismatics are starting churces everywhere so they must have a lot of them as well.

    Of course this is the fuzzy wuzzy captial - not much substance in most churches but lots of people likin the music etc.

    I heard a man in the midwest rant and rave about how small town churches deserved good pastors. He went on about the fact that he felt called to small town churches, that that was his commitment. Six months later he took a big church in the city :tear:

    Many seem to see the small church as a stepping stone or only last ten months before giving up.
     
  16. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    That is a very profound and true statement.
     
  17. StefanM

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    While true, it is understandable.

    It's hard to survive forever in a small town of 1500 people with 15 churches on 20,000 dollars a year with no benefits and few prospects of secular employment.
     
  18. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Really don't want to sound super spiritual, but doesn't there come a time when we have to trust the Lord to meet our needs?
     
  19. StefanM

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    Churches that can't afford to hire full-time pastors shouldn't.
     
  20. tank1976

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    I agree and disagree.

    When God has called you to a church that church should be a part of the Lord meeting your needs. Many times churches do not see it that way.
     

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