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.

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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 shepson@strang.com 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.

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