Why So Many Pastor’s Have Quit During The COVID Crisis
I recently read a brief post from a church planter who also works as a coach to church planter.s (He said his clients — he called them friends- come from a broad range of denominations including Methodists, Pentecostals, Baptists, and Non-denominationals.) His post was this brief, “I know 28 friends who have quit the ministry during this COVID crisis. What gives?” I know he wanted to begin a dialog meant to help these struggling church planters and preachers of God’s Word. Given the diversity of doctrine represented by his coaching “ministry”, I am not inclined to engage in that dialog. I will, however, that the problem exists in the “camp” I have been in as much as anywhere.
I think it important to recognize right off the bat that, just because a ministry fails to build roots, or withers to death at some point in its existence, does not mean that the minister of that church has failed. Because that minister has stepped back from the ministry for a time or refitted himself for a different path with Jesus Christ, does not mean he has failed God, failed the church, or failed as a preacher. The chief end of man is to glorify God, not to plant a church, build a church, or even to pastor a church for the rest of your life. I only grow concerned when, for whatever reason, this person walks away from God. I grow equally concerned when he doesn’t quit the ministry but transitions it to a different sort of ministry, hoping that, by doing so, he can feel like a success. Having said this, allow me to address what I think is the foundation of the trouble this “coach” has spotted.
A low view of the ministry
The ministry, church, can be looked upon as some sort of business venture. To be sure, those who view it this way see it as a spiritual venture and therefore, perhaps a noble one, but it is a business venture nonetheless. The pastor might be considered a president of the company or maybe a CEO. If the church is large enough it is very possible that they have an “executive pastor” who is no preacher at all, but responsible for the office of the church. They might have trustees instead of qualified deacons. The church is simply a franchise of the larger denominational corporation. The goal of the minister is to climb the ladder of the denomination more than it is to minister to a flock of needy souls.
In a setting like this, it would be natural to move to another field of work if one comes to believe he is not suited for this one.
A low view of God’s calling
Romans 11:29 (KJV)
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Years ago I loaded my little family and our few belongings into a car and moved to Astoria, OR. My objective was to plant a New Testament, Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. I knew it would be challenging. Honestly, I had no idea how challenging. It was my original idea to plant the church, leave it with a pastor and go and do the same again. One was hard enough. I found out very quickly that I do not have the skills necessary to get a good crowd of people together. I had trouble getting a handful together. I felt like an absolute failure the first 3 years we were in Astoria. When the LORD miraculously put together a group of people sufficient to meet my family’s needs, I could not imagine tempting God like that again!
There was one thing that kept me at it in Astoria. I knew God had put me there. If I had left before I knew God wanted to put me somewhere else, I guessed I would be done for. I was called to Astoria. More so, I am called into the ministry. I have other interests but I am called by God to this life.
How could one who is called by God to the ministry ever abandon it?
A low view of God
Closely associated with a low view of God’s calling is a low view of God Himself. After almost forty years in the ministry, I have come to believe that most professing Christians have almost no concern for God. He is an assumption to them. They acknowledge that He exists, but in their minds, aware of it or not, His only purpose is an excuse to try to get others to believe and act as they wish them to. This was the very reason Benjamin Franklin believed religion was beneficial. He had no belief in God but he did believe the preaching of the Bible tended to develop a moral citizenry. I am afraid the largest number of professing Christians are right there with Mr. Franklin.
I pray that of those twenty-eight men this coach said quit the ministry, some of them will be refreshed and once again enter the work. I am so hopeful that the majority of them will continue to walk with the Lord in a good local church. The thing I wish most will happen is that those disillusioned at this time will come to know the Lord in a way they had never before thought possible.
In the fields