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63 Percent of Pastors 'Frequently' Feel Overwhelmed, Lifeway Poll Shows

Michael Foust | Crosswalk Headlines Contributor | Published: Oct 26, 2021
63 Percent of Pastors 'Frequently' Feel Overwhelmed, Lifeway Poll Shows

63 Percent of Pastors 'Frequently' Feel Overwhelmed, Lifeway Poll Shows

The percentage of pastors who say they are frequently overwhelmed by their role has increased during the past six years, even though the number of pastors who have stepped away from the pulpit has remained relatively unchanged, according to a new Lifeway Research survey.

The poll found that 63 percent of pastors at evangelical and historically Black Protestant churches agree that “the role of being a pastor is frequently overwhelming,” with 21 percent strongly agreeing.

The 63 percent is an increase from 2015, when 54 percent agreed with the statement.

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

“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.”

The survey also found that:

  • 37 percent of pastors are at the same church they were pastoring 10 years ago. In 2015, that number was 44 percent.
  • 18 percent of pastors say the previous pastor left due to conflict. In 2015, it was 26 percent.
  • 80 percent of pastors – the same number as in 2015 – agree that they will “need to confront conflict in this church in the future.”
  • 61 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.

Photo courtesy: Ben White/Unsplash

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

63 Percent of Pastors 'Frequently' Feel Overwhelmed, Lifeway Poll Shows