The Healthy Church Hub

It can be extremely difficult to navigate the restless waters of ministry for church leaders. Staying the course can be a challenge with the shifts in culture, numerous responsibilities, online criticism, and more.

In this episode, we sat down with Mike Minter, to talk through the challenges church leaders face in today’s culture, healthy rhythms to practice, and how to stay the course while increasing the longevity of your ministry.

Root Causes of Why Pastors Are Leaving Ministry

One of the latest surveys from The Barna Group shows that “38% of church leaders have considered leaving ministry this year.” This statistic may be surprising but for those in the church, it can feel relatable as many have faced the challenges and turbulence of ministry, specifically over the past three years.

But what are some of the root causes that are making church leaders want to leave? Most have to do with the extreme pressure many leaders are under that creates feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. Here are three things that may be leading to that:

  • High ministry standards: Far beyond business standards, church leaders are called to follow standards that include ethics, morals, church doctrine, and living above reproach. The bar is set high for church leaders and can feel overwhelming to maintain.
  • Criticism: In today’s world, sometimes the loudest criticism comes from critics online. Pastors now face immediate criticism due to technology.
  • Multi-Tasking: If you are hired in the church, you most likely are required to wear a lot of hats and handle responsibilities far beyond your role – all while doing each task and job extremely well.

So how do you overcome these pressures? It’s important to have a strong team beside you who are humble, can help you carry the load, and alleviate tension and stress.

3 Warning Signs for Ministry Burnout

Although it can be hard to see clearly when you may begin to hit burnout, here are three warning signs to look for as a church leader and solutions to help you stay the course.

  1. Exhaustion
    • Solution: Ask for a break and be honest with those around you about your workload.
  2. Insecurity
    • Solution: Be careful who you take feedback from. Not everyone’s feedback is helpful or true.
  3. Feeling pressure to live up to expectations
    • Solution: Give yourself grace. You can’t do it all by yourself. Ask for help.

Remember to always go back to the question “Was I called to this?” and remember who called you. Your job description is to be faithful to what God has called you to, yield to His truth, preach the Word, and let Him do the miraculous. God never said that it would be easy. Lean into Him being your strength when you feel weak and rest on His truth.

The Importance of Friendship in Ministry

Friendship plays a vital role in the life of church leaders. It’s essential to have people around you who attend the church and are also leaders of the church. By having friends in both places, you will be able to have people speak into your life from different angles. 

Find those who you trust, respect, and who also know you well. This will allow you to be vulnerable and share the hard parts of your life and your ministry. As a result, these trusted friends can speak into your blind spots and help you fix your course of direction when you feel off.

Friendship is important, especially in ministry. When you have trusted friends to walk alongside you, speak truth into your life, and help keep you stay accountable, the longevity of your ministry will increase and help you be a great leader.

Four Healthy Rhythms to Practice

It can be easy to get stuck in the fast-paced race of ministry and forget our responsibilities as God’s children. Be reminded that we all need healthy rhythms and habits to help us stay the course. Here are four rhythms to practice:

  1. Prayer
  2. Time in God’s Word
  3. Solitude
  4. Having a team to help carry the load

Encouragement for Those Who Want to Leave the Church

Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and tired of ministry? Whether you’ve considered leaving the church or not, here are some practical steps you can begin to take to help you evaluate.

  1. Identify the problem – What is causing you to limp in your leadership? You may feel exhausted by your responsibilities, overwhelmed by the number of meetings, or like you are working too hard. No matter what it may be, take some time to dig deep and figure out what is at the root.
  2. Seek out others – Find someone, either a counselor or a trusted friend, who can sit with you to help you navigate through what you are processing. These people can help you see what is true, what may be a lie, and what next steps you can take.

Be encouraged, you are not alone if you are feeling like you want to throw in the towel of ministry. Being a church leader is hard, but in our weaknesses, we can see God’s strength. Remember to go back to the gospel daily. If God called you to ministry, be faithful to follow Him and He will take care of the rest.

Footnote: The Barna Group Survey

Final Five:

Book: Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp
Last thing you listened to: CityAlight
Quote or advice: “Our lives should be so above reproach that if anyone were to criticize us, those who know us well, would not believe it,
One thing to communicate to church leaders: If you find yourself thinking you need to leave the ministry, I would encourage you to not make any impulsive decisions, no matter how overwhelmed you feel. Set some time aside to reflect and sit down with good friends and walk through what you are going through. Allow them to pick apart because they may see some exaggerated things in your life that you’re making up or an identity that you’ve taken on that isn’t true. If you’re not there, look for the warning lights and be aware.