Statistics tell us that 1500 to 2000 pastors leave their pulpit each month here in America. These are ministers who are not going on to different congregations or ministerial assignments as a denominational leader or hospital chaplains, but they are 1500 to 2000 who walk away from their ministry.
There are various reasons why pastors leave ministry and those include any combination of things, such as burn-out, push-out, family problems, financial issues, stress factors, health changes, shifts in policies, theological differences, or congregational conflicts.
I was once part of those statistics in 1999 when I was going through an unwanted divorce and burning out in a church culture of legalism. Under the stress of home and church, I opted to resign and walk away from my ministry (you can read about that at my Former Adventist Minister page).
Interestingly, it didn’t take me long to realize that leaving one’s ministerial role doesn’t release one’s ministerial calling. Romans 11:29 states “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (ESV).
So what is a former pastor to do with his calling? I say, answer it. But what if your exit closed some doors to do that? Look for other doors that are open to you. One door that is always open to a former minister as a way to answer his pastoral calling is to start a house church.
It’s a little different because it’s not like the same traditional structure of ministry that you left behind, but that can be good for you. Imagine pastoral ministry without the burden of chasing budgets or the stress of parishioner politics, just pastoral shepherding a small group through “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
Now if you need a pay check and modern ministry celebrity status from your pastorate, we’ll then you probably need to go back to those closed doors and knock a little louder.
However, if you are content with answering God’s calling upon your life and you are willing to humble yourself to serve in that calling, then please consider starting a house church.