Please forgive me for the sensational title but the news about Wesleyan pastoral retention is indeed shocking.
If I asked you, "How many pastors washout of ministry in their first five years?", what would you say, 30...40...50...even 60 percent? Me too. Those are the statistics we have heard in anecdotes and articles over the years. Yet, you probably have a gnawing sense that something just isn't right.*
So, those of us here in the Education and Clergy Development office decided to collect and analyze the actual numbers for Wesleyan clergy. We ended up plowing through the journals from all of our districts for the last five years.** And, as you can see below, our findings are surprisingly positive.
Clearly further research is needed to answer important additional questions. What is the attrition rate pre-ordination or after 10, 15, 20 years? What factors influence attrition...education, church size, age, region? The answers to these questions and many others will help us steward our resources and target our energies to strategically equip, support and care for Wesleyan Clergy for years to come.
But for now, let's celebrate and thank our gracious God for this good news. . .Wesleyan clergy are persevering!
*We searched far and wide for the studies behind these kinds of statistics and we were hard pressed to find quality research that espoused consistent numbers and/or supported such high rates.
**This data was collected from paper district journals so special thanks to Joel Liechty and Dave Higle for plowing through all those pages. And pray for us as we work with the Communication and Administration division to accelerate the digitization of our denominational data.