Monday, August 23, 2004

In, then out, of ministry...Why?

The Great Commission depends upon evangelists and pastors getting in the ministry and staying there for a lifetime of service come hell or high water. That is not, unfortunately, what is happening. This article from the Baptist Press:

Citing a statistic from LifeWay President Jimmy Draper, Don Whitney of Midwestern Seminary said that for every 20 men who enter the ministry -- by the time those men reach retirement age -- only one will still be in the ministry.

Among those who remain in the ministry are many who have been ruined in other ways, Whitney added. Their decreased effectiveness may result from a variety of failures, including:
Money: "They make far too many choices based upon getting more money, or else they smolder in their attitude toward the church because they don't get paid enough."

Sex: Whitney cited a 1995 study that revealed that 25 to 35 percent of ministers are involved in inappropriate sexual behavior at some level.

Power: "They become authoritarian with people," Whitney said. "Perhaps they got that way because they were so faithful in one place of ministry for so long and the sin came upon them gradually. Or maybe they discovered that they enjoyed denominational work, but after awhile they began serving their own political appetites more than Christ. To pull strings was more satisfying than to preach sermons. To get in the inner circle of the right people, to be able to place others in and keep others out of influential positions, to be among the first to get the inside information became 'the ministry' to them."

Pride: "The greater the influence God gives them, the greater they become in their own sight, and the more they believe they deserve the influence."

Cynicism: "When you deal week in and week out with people who claim to be Christians but often don't act like it, when those who are supposed to be God's people talk about you and treat you worse than those in the world do, when you've ministered for years and you see little apparent fruit in the lives of those you've given your life for, it's easy to become cynical," Whitney said.

Success: Whitney described those who succumb to success as CEOs, not shepherds; managers, not ministers. "Their model is business, with its emphasis on numbers, units, products, marketing and customers, rather than a family with its emphasis on love, relationships, new births and maturity, or a farm with its emphasis on sheep, fruit and growing things."

  • Daily time in prayer and in the Word. At least an hour. And don't just go through the motions...experience God.
  • Accountability - get together regularly with someone who, at once, can hold your spiritual feet to the proverbial fire and refresh you.
  • Constant ethical alignment - Read that Bible, and do it. Don't think that "equipping" your people and preaching/teaching is enough...Jesus wants you to do it!
  • Fall in love...with your wife and friends. Over and over and over again...
  • Ask God to renew that evangelistic vigor in you. There is nothing so invigorating or God-pleasing as leading someone to a relationship with the Lord.


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