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The Greatest Needs of U.S. Pastors

Lifeway Research recently surveyed 1,000 pastors about the most pressing needs they are facing in ministry. The results were not too surprising:

  • Developing leaders and volunteers: 77%

  • Fostering connections with unchurched people: 76%

  • People’s apathy or lack of commitment: 75%

  • Consistency in personal prayer: 72%

  • Friendships and fellowship with others: 69%

  • Training current leaders and volunteers: 68%

  • Consistency of Bible reading not related to sermon or teaching preparation: 68%

  • Trusting God: 66%

  • Relationships with other pastors: 64%

  • Consistency in taking a Sabbath: 64%

  • Stress: 63%

  • Personal disciple making: 63%

  • Confessing and repenting from personal sin: 61%

  • Consistency exercising: 59%

  • Avoiding overcommitment and over-work: 55%

  • Challenging people where they lack obedience: 55%

  • Time management: 51%

The battle is real. Pastors face enormous pressure to develop leaders and volunteers while interacting with unchurched people and fighting our congregations' prevailing winds of apathy. Add to those struggles the need for personal discipline in prayer, rest, time management, and exercise. Finally, sprinkle on top the sense of loneliness and lack of friendship.

Sounds pretty bleak, right?

But life doesn’t have to be that way. This is one reason why pastor fellowships are critical. Think of how many of those boxes can be checked by regular interaction with other pastors:

  • Developing leaders – Sharing training material with one another. (Side note: this is why we created the Shareables page on our website).

  • Connections with unchurched people – bouncing ideas off one another.

  • People’s apathy – yeah, that’s entirely in the realm of the Holy Spirit!

  • Consistency in prayer – confession is good for the soul. Accountability helps.

  • Friendships and fellowship – probably the most significant box that gets checked through pastoral connections.

  • Trusting God – having other pastors speak truth into you is life-giving.

The list could go on, but you get the idea.

I’ve found that most pastors want to get together with other pastors, but few take the initiative. So, be the person who takes the initiative. Be agreeable to drive a bit. Be willing to spring for lunch. I know it’s a sacrifice, but it is worth it.

Just last week, I had a WARBC Pastor willing to meet me halfway (we both drove an hour), and he even paid for lunch! I won’t tell you who it was because you will expect him to pay for your lunch if you get together, but Jack Austin isn’t loaded, so I will keep that perk for myself.

This unnamed pastor was a great encouragement and help to me. And today, I’m meeting with another WARBC Pastor who has been a source of encouragement and help for several years now.

The point? You see the needs listed by these 1,000 pastors, and they most likely resonate with you. Prioritize pastoral fellowship, and it will help you minister better.

We would love to hear from you:

- Did Lifeway’s list resonate with you?

- What would you add to the list?

- How do you seek to meet those needs?

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It appears that the issue here is -- again--apathy. This time, however, the apathy is on the part of the pastors themselves. If you recognize a problem (that's everything on your entire list--all of them are problems) you can complain OR you can actually try to DO something about it/them, A really good place to start is to be sure that you're getting in enough prayer time. This is an issue for all of Christianity, followers and leaders. It's simple to pray, but it's really not easy to actually do. One way to begin praying is to commit to someone OUTSIDE of you immediate family to be a prayer partner. Once a week will not solve the problem. …

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