Guidestone, a helpful SBC entity, seeks to enhance financial security and resilience for those who serve the Lord. CEO Hance Dilbeck and Director of Pastoral Wellness, Mark Dance, invited state executive directors and certain state convention staff to attend a summit at the Guidestone building. 

I love Guidestone’s new vision: every servant of Christ finishes well. 

We were learning about their new initiatives in pastoral wellness, focusing on many dimensions of pastoral ministry and family life. Scott McConnell, director of Lifeway Research, shared statistics from about pastor attrition and other topics. Some data was staggering and some was more hopeful than I thought it might be. 

What I learned that was hopeful:

  • 1.5% of pastors leave the pastorate each year for reasons other than retirement or death. This is much less than you will often see shared, which is “data” that is estimated or derived from unreliable studies. 
  • 52% of pastors strongly disagreed that their church has experienced significant conflict this last year (this was a 2021 survey). This is hopeful because we constantly hear the negative stories of church challenges and conflict. The reality is that there is so much good happening too; we just don’t always hear that. 

What I learned that was staggering:

  • The top two reasons for pastors leaving the pastorate was a “change in calling” and “conflict in a church.”
  • 50% of pastors agree they often feel the demands of ministry are greater than they can handle
  • 31% of pastors agree the demands of ministry keep them from spending time with their family. The good news: this is down from 35% in 2015.
  • 71% of pastors strongly agree that their spouse is very satisfied with their marriage today. I would hope this would be higher. Even worse: this is down from 82% in 2015. 
  • 49% of ministers were either “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years.

Guidestone shared some data on ministers’ compensation that helped me realize we need to help educate churches so we can care better for pastors. 

In the latest compensation survey done by Lifeway and Guidestone, they found that while the Consumer Price Index jumped 17.6% from 2018 to 2022, full-time pastor compensation only increased 0.2% during that same period. Another challenge: 59% of SBC churches do not provide medical coverage. 

I know it is expensive. But I hope churches will make fair compensation a priority. Pastors, if we can help talk with your church’s finance team about how to set up a pastor’s pay package properly (with the best tax benefits for the church and the pastor), please let your SCBI staff know. 

If you need to take the next step in securing investments and insurance, please call Guidestone. They are some of the kindest and most helpful people you’ll talk to. 

These statistics show another reason why our fellowship and cooperation is vital–we’re in this together, and we can help each other finish well.