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Insights From "Trends: August, 1997"
Clergy/Leaders' Mail-list No. 484.
Dr. Rowland Croucher

Editors Note: This article, which described trends in Australian churches, is abridged from the original article. "Crisis Points" and all italicized portions have been added for Ministry Health readers by the Editor. TF

Trends in the Church in Australia...

#1 Clergy are leaving parish ministry in record numbers (there are now about 12,000 ex-pastors in Australia) because (in general terms, and in order of importance)...

(1) They don't really know who they are;

(2) They are disillusioned - they feel they've failed to fulfill their dream;

(3) They're carrying unfinished business into their adult life from their family-of-origin, and

(4) They have serious 'distrust' problem with people in authority.

 

#2 The crucial 'seasons of a pastor's life' are

(1) 3-5 years (the honeymoon's over);
Crisis Point: Help novice pastors gain real-world expectations of congregational ministry.
 
(2) 8-10 years (onset of burnout due to an imbalance between emotional/spiritual input and output);
Crisis Point: Pastors, congregations, and denominational officials need to develop a comprehensive strategy to prepare and support pastors at this critical eighth year "make it or break it" benchmark. See the Mnistry Health article on the "Five Stages of Ministry" at http://ministryyhealth.net/008_five_stages_of_ministry.html.
 
(3) 15-20 years, when the kids leave the nest.
Crisis Point: Family grief and transition
 
#3 The 'successful' pastor these days is in the Bill Hybels mold: excellent interpersonal skills, a visionary, prophetic but also sensitive...
Crisis Point: Extremely High Expectations for "Perfect" Pastors appear to be increasing as more mega-churches develop prominence through the media, et al.

 

#4 More denominations are insisting their clergy participate in a learning experience each year, and have some sort of accountability to a spiritual director / supervisor / mentor. 'Most clergy don't
reflect enough' said a perceptive church leader...
Crisis Point: Developing a mature Christian spirituality is an essential coping mechanism. Continuing education is about more than just getting smart--it's about developing a mature, reflective ministry with pastors mentally, emotinally and spiritually better equipped to deal with the growing demands of ministry.

 

#5 The inability of our culture to produce men from boys is our greatest social problem.
Crisis Point: A few good spiritually mature and interpersonally "fit" ministry recruits are getting harder to find.

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Copyright 1997 by Rowland Croucher--All Rights Reserved

Roland Croucher is Director of John Mark Ministries. For Rowland's entire article visit the John Mark Ministries Home Page: http://www.pastornet.net.au/jmm

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