Together in Ministry
A Duke University study found that eighty-five percent of seminary graduates entering the ministry leave within five years and ninety percent of all pastors will not stay to retirement. that fifty percent of ministers drop out of ministry within the first five years and many never to go back to church again.
These statistics demonstrate there is a crisis in ministry. That crisis is not limited to those who are leaving ministry, but also affects churches left without leaders. Why are ministers leaving? Many factors exist, but notably ministers complain they were ill prepared, were not well connected, and did not see to matters of selfcare and self-discipline.
Yet there is hope. The Ministers Council, ABCUSA, through a grant provided by the Lilly Endowment Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative, led the Together in Ministry program from 2002-2012. Through this 10-year study, we have learned and conclude that:
Successful ministers cultivate consistent collegial support relationships.
Specifically, such relationships eliminate isolation, transforming “Lone Rangers” by providing a safe, confidential place and framework in which to make friends and realize healthy collegiality. The Together in Ministry program provides a flexible support system that encourages collaboration and spurs creativity, leading to greater success in sustaining ministers.
Given the successes of Together in Ministry, the Ministers Council serves to facilitate the continuation of existing Together in Ministry groups as well as the creation new Together in Ministry groups. The Ministers Council equips groups so that they can be most effective.