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Pastors feeling overwhelmed, survey finds

More than six in 10 pastors of evangelical and historically black Protestant churches agree that “the role of being a pastor is frequently overwhelming,” with 21 percent strongly agreeing, a new Lifeway Research survey found. This represents an increase from 2015, when 54 percent agreed with the statement.

However, such feelings have not affected pastors leaving the ministry. This year, the rate of pastors leaving the pulpit is 1.5 percent. In 2015, it was 1.3 percent.

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“COVID-19 was neither a small nor short-lived stressor for pastors,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Many have speculated that pastors have been opting out of the pastorate as a result. That is not the case. They are remaining faithful to the calling at levels similar to those seen before the pandemic.”

Among the other findings:

  • Thirty-seven percent of pastors are at the same church they were pastoring 10 years ago. In 2015, that number was 44 percent.
  • Eighteen percent say the previous pastor left because of conflict. In 2015, it was 26 percent.
  • Eight in 10 pastors — the same number as in 2015 — agree that they will “need to confront conflict in this church in the future.”
  • Sixty-one percent of pastors strongly agree with the statement, “I consistently protect my time with my family.” In 2015, 68 percent answered that way.
  • Meanwhile, 41 percent of pastors say they are “often concerned about the financial security” of their family — a decrease from 53 percent in 2015.

“This decrease in the number of pastors stressed over their personal finances may be due to increased generosity in their church or financial stimulus checks from the government,” McConnell said. “It is still more common for a pastor to be worried about their own finances than to report declines in giving at their church.”

The survey interviewed 1,576 pastors from evangelical and historically black Protestant churches in August and September. It was sponsored by Houston’s First Baptist Church and Richard Dockins, a medical doctor.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice