Monday, July 9, 2012

The Need We Face

As Christian helpers, the membership of the Society of Christian Psychology encounters many challenges.  Here are some facts1 demonstrating the need we face. It is not good.

  1. Over 1,400 Protestant ministers leave their position each month.
  2. Every year, at least 5,000 career missionaries leave the field due to preventable stresses (such as depression, marriage and family problems, or conflict with co-workers).
  3. It costs in excess of $100,000 to recruit, equip, and send a new missionary family to replace each family that leaves the field because of unresolved personal, family or professional issues.
  4. 70% of pastors do not have someone whom they consider to be a close friend.
  5. 25% of pastors will experience a forced termination at least once during their ministerial career, and almost half of those never return to parish ministry.
  6. 50% of pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
  7. 70% of pastors continually battle depression.
  8. 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
  9. 80% of seminary graduates will leave full-time ministry within the first 5 years. The cost of seminary in today’s market is thousands of dollars. 
  10. 50% of pastors would leave the ministry if they had another way to make a living. 
  11. 40% of pastors have had an extra-marital sexual affair since entering ministry. 
  12. 80% of pastors’ wives feel their husbands are overworked. 
  13. 80% of the adult children of pastors sought professional help for depression. 
  14. 90% of pastors said their training was inadequate for ministry. 
  15. 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid. 
  16. 80% of pastors’ wives feel unappreciated by the congregation. 
  17. 90% of pastors said ministry was completely different than expected. 
  18. 90% of pastors say they want on-going, outside help in carrying for their souls.

I have been a pastor and have experienced many of these realities. I now minister to pastors, seeking to help them avoid these realities. But my initial response to this news is, “Who is sufficient for these things?” What will it take to transform the souls of leaders so that they can live a more joyful and fruitful life?

This much we know—whatever counsel we offer others, be they leaders or laity, must include a spirituality which addresses the entirety of our being, which is created in the image of God. Re-creation in the likeness of Christ cannot short-change any aspect of who we are. Transformation must include the way we feel, think, evaluate, choose, and desire. My entire “way of being a ‘me’” must change.

This transformative process is why I am committed to Christian psychology. It is realistic. It is honest. It is inclusive. It is humble. It is prayerful. It is hopeful. It offers us a way forward which is dependent on God’s Spirit and yet recognizes that grace usually works through nature. In other words, the miracle of transformation works through my capacities to feel, think, evaluate, choose, and desire. For example, it recognizes the crucial role of one’s attachment pattern when it comes to relational health. It honors the reality of receptivity and reactivity and addresses how that can change. In short, Christian psychology takes into account ALL of who I am as a human being.

If we are to make a difference in the “news”, we must give ourselves to the study and practice of a spirituality where its psychology is truly incarnational. Thanks be to God for those in the Society who are doing just that.

1(These statistics were compiled by R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development His sources included the Barna Group, Fuller Seminary, and Focus on the Family)

Jim Cofield, Th.M.
CrossPoint Ministries

No comments:

Post a Comment