What is John Mark Ministries?
Where did the name come from?
From the early Christian missionary who ‘bombed out’, went home to mummy in Jerusalem, and who, after some encouragement from the apostles Peter and Barnabas, went back into a successful ministry.
Why was it established?
I (Rowland Croucher) was enjoying a ministry with World Vision in ‘Leadership Enhancement’, working with pastors and church leaders, but became aware that for every serving pastor another had resigned. And I discovered that there was no cross-denominational ministry to these often hurting people and their spouses. The church does a mediocre job of searching for lost sheep and a terrible job of caring for lost shepherds. Phrases like ‘shooting our wounded’ describe this appalling situation in the literature.
How many people are we talking about?
There are currently about 14,000 clergy registered with the Commonwealth Government in Australia to celebrate marriages, and therefore about 12,000 or more have resigned to pursue another calling.
How did you come by that figure?
By asking clergy in 30-40 pastors’ conferences from many denominations to indicate what proportion of their ordained/accredited contemporaries were still in parish ministry. The average over that wide sample: about half had left for some other vocation.
Are you doing any special research on all this?
Yes, we had a questionnaire we were asking ex-pastors to fill in. We’re looking at about forty relevant variables – it’s quite exhaustive. The target-group included people who were once on the ‘payroll’ of a local church and left for any reason and for any other vocation, before retirement-age. To make the research valid, we included all leavers – including those who now follow a teaching ministry, or a denominational job, or cross-cultural ministry, or whatever. We found that a pastor who left to drive a truck, and another who taught in a seminary, for example, may have left for similar reasons. They simply have different ‘marketable’ skills. And we covered all Christian denominations except the Roman Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists – other researchers (Dr. Michael Parer and Dr. Harry Ballis) followed up ex-priests and ex-pastors in those denominations. So far one in about 40 of Australia’s ex-pastors (about 250) sent in a questionnaire until I ran out of steam in the mid 1990s on this research. Someone out there might want to do a Masters’ degree by finding another 250 to make the sample more valid/ representative and complete this strategic research project.
How are you funded?
Honoraria for preaching/seminaring, or mentoring, donations for counseling, sales of Rowland’s books, and donations from churches and interested individuals. To support the Melbourne side of the ministry, tax-deductible donations may be made to Well-Being Australia. See http://jmm.org.au/articles/12834.htm.
How many staffworkers are associated with your ministry, and what are their job descriptions?
We have had three full-time staff-members – Les Scarborough (N.S.W. now retired), Tim Dyer (Tasmania), and myself, based in Melbourne. Tim Dyer operates entirely independently of myself, with his own support team.
To summarize our philosophy/ theology: we are seeking to facilitate within ourselves, and with/for others, what Jesus called ‘the key of knowledge/ understanding’ (Luke 11:52), which he taught was all about ‘justice and love’ (Luke 11:42). In other words, how do individuals and churches get to know and love God better, relate to one another in love and justice, and serve the world in terms of justice, compassion and preaching the Christian Good News (Matthew 23:23)?
What do you three do in an ‘average’ week?
The three of us have/had slightly different emphases, because we are differently gifted. Les majored on mentoring, counseling, renewal retreats for pastors (and, with his wife Lyn, for pastors’ spouses), and church consultations. Tim Dyer does an Australia-wide ministry similar to Les’s. Rowland’s more into teaching (churches, Christian schools), writing, counseling (and evangelism on the Internet, especially Facebook (currently 5000+ friends). When I (Rowland) wrote the first draft of this article, in that week I counseled some professionals and clergy, visited Adelaide to speak at a conference of Christian School teachers, spoke at a Navigators’ retreat, and preached at a Wesleyan Methodist Church – besides writing an article on the Eucharist and a Christian approach to the difficult issue, for some people, of Masturbation (!). IOW (In other words) we do for churches and pastors and others what we are gifted to do and is not being done by others…
That’ll do for now.
Updated March 2013.