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Back in 2007, I sat in a conference filled with ministry leaders, listening to a prominent pastor share some sobering statistics:

  • In the U.S., 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
  • 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could…but they have no other way of making a living.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost 40% of pastors polled said they had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • 80% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband is overworked.
  • Over half of pastors’ wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage was the day their husband entered the ministry.

Not long ago, that same pastor—the one who had warned us about pastoral burnout and moral failure—was removed from pastoral leadership. He had abused his pastoral authority, shut out any attempts to hold him accountable, and pursued inappropriate relationships with a couple different women.

I know this man loved Jesus in 2007, and that he loves Jesus today. And I know he sincerely believed what he told us in that conference. But that didn’t prevent him from becoming one of the statistics he dreaded.

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We first ran this post in September of 2012, shortly after a weekend service with on-the-spot baptisms.

A few times a year we issue an invitation for hearers to be baptized on the spot. The gospel is preached, an invitation is given, and people come, Acts 2 style. We have each baptismal candidate meet with a counselor trained to ask a number of diagnostic questions to ascertain whether the candidate actually understands the gospel and embraces the Lordship of Christ. We end up turning a considerable number of people away, but we baptize a whole lot as well. This past weekend [September 2012] we baptized 180.

Failing to determine whether someone understands their profession of faith before you baptize them is, in my view, recklessly irresponsible. Declaring someone “saved” when they aren’t not only gives them false assurance, it makes them that much more immune to future calls to repent and believe. God help us never to put the excitement of large numbers ahead of the safety of people’s souls. My ego is not worth someone else’s eternity.

For this reason, many pastors require a waiting period between a profession of faith and baptism–attendance at a class, etc.–before they will administer baptism. Some won’t baptize children growing up in their churches until adulthood because only then can they be sure that a sound decision has been made.

I believe this to be a well-intended, but unbiblical and dangerous, solution to the problem.

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Your weekly installment of what we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.

Video Resource of the Week

Prager University. Let’s be clear, we’re not saying that we endorse every view on this site, or that we consider every perspective expressed on these to be the Christian answer. But Prager U. gives short, compelling arguments on moral issues, religious freedom questions, and political topics that concern Christians in the United States. You may find some of them useful—especially you parents looking for a way to explain certain things to your kids! Some of them are pretty funny, too. Certainly worth a gander.

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