A tough (refining?) time for the church

Like other people and organizations, the church is collectively going through a tough time as the pandemic drags on.

Barna recently reported that 38% of pastors are seriously considering leaving the ministry. That’s a huge percentage, and it’s a 9% increase from just 8 months ago. That number jumps to 51% for pastors in a mainline church context!*

(By the way, I’m not one of them.)

I share this research because I think it is symptomatic of the wider challenges. Many churches are closing or shrinking. Fellowship is harder. People’s needs are much greater and more complex. They are soul-tired. Some people have become complacent or adrift. Divisive issues are expanding exponentially. Hybrid systems of ministry (in-person and online) are both challenging and more time and work to navigate.

Why am I saying all of this?

First, I think the church is being refined for whatever is coming next. It’s probably going to get harder, not easier.

Second, don’t take the church for granted. That’s been happening for hundreds of years.

Third, get off the high horse. Is the church imperfect? Yes. Are you imperfect? Yes. Is the church instituted by God himself to worship and serve him through all time and generations, and to live by his Word? Also Yes.

Fourth, be Jesus’ body. Share and live the good news. Worship, love, and grow in holiness and light.

To the church in Laodicea, Jesus said: “because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).


The church shouldn’t be lukewarm or lazy, dismembered or optional.

Instead it should be zealous and engaged, together and necessary.

I wonder what’s coming next? It’s hard to say. Either way, our job—as always—is to be the hands and feet of Christ.


–*This research is presented in an article titled “The Pastors Aren’t Alright” in Christianity Today and can be accessed here.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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