Jumping Ship

More than 19,000 pastors per year jump overboard when the seas of ministry get rough. How can we prevent this?
When Titanic hit the cinema circuit in 1997, audiences around the world sat tensely in their seats, gripping their armrests and gaping in fear at the horrific images of hundreds of people jumping overboard into an icy, unforgiving sea. These portraits of the Titanic's demise became one of the most frightening film sequences in moviemaking history. But it wasn't the realistic special effects alone that filled our minds with terror. The thought of people becoming so desperate that they felt they had no choice but to leap to a watery grave was horrifying in and of itself.

Much more horrifying, however, is how many pastors today feel that same desperation--that circumstances in their lives and ministries are so distressing they have no choice but to jump ship.

In denominations across the United States, according to some estimates, as many as 1,600 ministers per month leave the ministry. That's 19,200 pastors in just one year. That's 19,200 of our brothers and sisters--our comrades-in-arms in the spiritual battle for lost humanity--who are taken off the front lines. Most, like those who abandoned the sinking Titanic, will never return.

There was a time when I numbered among those counted in this statistic. A time when jumping ship seemed to be the only solution. Thankfully, I was thrown a life preserver and was able to make my way back to shore.

I know firsthand the unique challenges of ministry--its exhilarating highs and disheartening lows. I recognize the dangers of isolating yourself. I've learned the importance of developing trusted relationships in which you can be accountable. And I understand the value of being surrounded by those who believe in you and your call.

Our desire at Ministries Today is to be a support to you and your ministry that you can count on. We understand the pressures of ministry. We know the challenges of pastoring in a postmodern world--a world where truth is considered relative and the Bible is constantly questioned or dismissed as irrelevant. We want to provide timely articles and resources that will be practical and helpful in the issues you face every day.

I want to know how we can best serve you. Please e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your thoughts on what topics you'd like to see us address and any other feedback you may have.

After all, we're on this ship together. Jesus, our captain, is at the helm, and our destination is sure. We don't have to stand by and watch any more of our brothers and sisters abandon hope.

Bill Shepson is editor of Ministries Today and associate editor of Charisma magazine. He is a licensed Foursquare minister who lives in the Orlando, Florida, area.

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Praying for leaders

    Failing to Do This Can Spell Disaster for the Church

    And it has the potential to destroy many lives.

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Peace is indeed attainable in this selfish world. Just look for it in the right place.

    Finding Peace in a Fallen and Selfish World

    You can have peace in this world. Just stop looking in the wrong places.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • Prestonwood Church in Dallas

    What Leaders Can Learn From Prestonwood's Jack Graham

    Leaders don't have to know everything, but they need to give their staff what Graham gives his.

  • Church members argue

    12 Reasons Church Staff Conflict May Arise

    This is not unique, but among these there are some that seem more pervasive than others.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders