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Is the pastorate getting harder? How would you answer that question? From your perspective, is being a church leader more difficult, more demanding, than it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago?

I've been asking pastors, denominational leaders, and church consultants that question, and the answers often erupt like a geyser. "Yes! You wouldn't believe what it's like now. … "

Add to the anecdotal evidence of board wars, dysfunctional people, and budget strains some sobering statistics. The Southern Baptist Convention monitored the number of pastors who were fired during an 18-month period in 1988 and 1989. A full 2,100 ministers were dismissed, a dramatic 31 percent jump from five years earlier. A similar increase has occurred in the Christian Reformed Church and other denominations that log such numbers.

A spate of books have sounded an alarm, including Pastors at Risk by H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, and Today's Pastors by George Barna. The dour state of affairs has generated ...

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