Pastor Blog

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE ON MAY 6, 2017

 

I am grateful to be a Pastor. And if I live to the end of the month, and First Baptist Church Carbon Hill keeps me until the end of the month, I will celebrate my tenth anniversary as Pastor of that great church on May 27, 2017.

Ten years may not seem to be a big deal to you, but Pastors are, according to recent statistics, a dying breed and in a difficult profession! The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and others report that 80% of pastors feel the ministry has negatively affected their families. The surveys noted that many children of pastors no longer attend services faithfully as adults. This is sometimes the Pastor’s fault. This is sometimes the church’s fault. This is sometimes everybody’s fault. But, above all, this is heartbreaking.

90% of these pastors testified that the ministry itself was totally different than what they expected. The studies also showed that 70% of pastors constantly fight depression as well as have a very low opinion of themselves because of their ministry experiences. That same percentage of pastors revealed that they do not have any close friends outside of their immediate family. Also, 70% feel vastly underpaid relative to their education, experience, and stress load. Half of all pastors would leave the ministry due to discouragement but remain in because they have no other means of generating income. The statistics also show that 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their families could get out of the ministry altogether.

1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month with 1,300 of them being terminated. That’s EVERY SINGLE MONTH. Of course, these numbers also reflect pastors who have had moral failures, leadership deficiencies, and illegal activity who needed to be removed. But, in this survey, these pastors were asked the number one reason why they were leaving the ministry and it was due to the church members unwillingness to follow the Pastor’s vision and leadership.

All of this helps to explain why many pastors don’t stay at churches very long. Lifeway Research unveiled in a study a few years back that the average stay of a Pastor in one church was 3.6 years. The highest statistic I found was a little over five years. Regardless, pastoral ministries, by and large, don’t last very long in any particular church.

So I am thankful FBC Carbon Hill has kept me around for a decade. These precious people have shown me and my family a lot of grace, kindness, and a willingness to follow. And I hope I have contributed something lasting and impactful to their lives as well.

I can still remember dealing with the pulpit committee all those years ago. In the Southern Baptist Convention, pastoral searches are very discreet and sensitive, so the church I was pastoring in North Carolina was not aware, other than a very few key leaders, that I was talking to another church. I had gone to Alabama to meet the committee and preach a sermon for them at a church in Hamilton. Following the service that cold January morning, we all went to a restaurant in Winfield for a strategic meeting and to get to know each other better. Although the time went well, I went back to Carolina with no intentions of coming “home” to Alabama. I just felt like I couldn’t leave the people I had led to the Lord, grown to love, and served with constantly. Bailey Baptist Church was growing and God was moving dramatically. As a matter of fact, on the very next Sunday I was back at our church, we were hosting a New Members Day service and luncheon to celebrate all the new believers, baptisms, and members God had brought to our fellowship in the previous six months.

At the meal following that service a man, who was a recent new member, approached me and asked to talk. His comments shook me to the core.

“Pastor Scott, God has been speaking to me and I can’t get this off my mind and I don’t know why. But I can’t sleep or get peace until I tell you.”

My wide eyes invited him to continue.

“If God opens a door for you to go back to Alabama, you need to take it.”

I don’t even remember what I said to him in that moment, but what I thought was that one of the handful of people who knew where I had been the previous weekend had spilled the beans. They had not and God used that comment to help in ultimately directing me to Carbon Hill. After I resigned, that man’s tears and trembling words underscored the fact that he had not known about me meeting with the FBC committee. God had graciously spoken to me through that gentleman.

So I am grateful to have been in Walker County for ten years. I was born here and have enjoyed “coming home.” I am so thankful for a church that has loved and cared for my family like their own. I am so blessed to have a Faith Family who will minister alongside me in this area and beyond. Maybe God will give me several more years here in Carbon Hill. Only He knows.

But let me leave you with some wisdom from this old preacher. I say “old” because on July 2, 1992 I preached my very first sermon. I had ten pages of notes and it took me all of eight minutes to present them, I think. That was TWENTY FIVE years ago. Oh my. No wonder my hair is falling out.

Back to the wisdom. Pastor, love your church. They are not perfect but they chose you to be their leader. Although not everyone will follow you, some will. Forgive those who won’t. Invest in those who will - they are the remnant God has given to you in His grace. Be a servant in the Word and on your knees. Preach and teach like it’s the last opportunity you will ever have. Lovingly reach your community with the Gospel. Jesus is very clear you won’t lead everyone to salvation, but you will bring some to Him! And this will bring our God great glory!

Church, love your Pastor. Embrace him and his family and follow his vision and leadership as he leads biblically, morally, compassionately, and with vision. Bless his family and his ministry. He and his family are not perfect, but who is besides Jesus? Based on the statistics noted above, encourage your pastor. Tell him you love him. Give him a gift every now and again letting him know how much you appreciate him. Write him a letter thanking him for serving. Love his family. Take care of him and his family financially. And most of all, pray for him!

First Baptist Church Carbon Hill, thank you for letting me be your Pastor for these last ten years. I love you all and look forward to seeing you in worship tomorrow. I thank God for you!