Surprise, Surprise: Research Says Pastors Are Getting More Stressed

LifeWay Research has completed a new study that finds pastors are experiencing new levels of stress. 63 percent of the pastors surveyed say they “frequently” feel overwhelmed, a jump over the same question asked in 2015. Pastors said their top three reasons for leaving the pastorate are burnout, church conflict and “a change in calling.”

Pastors told LifeWay that the top things that stress them out are church conflict, the feeling of being on-call 24/7 and other unrealistic expectations and a general sense of isolation. Since the 2015 survey didn’t ask about COVID-19 and researchers wanted comparative data, this year’s survey avoided pandemic questions. That said, there’s no doubt questions around socially distanced church and vaccine questions contributed to pastoral stress points.

The research didn’t show a huge jump in the number of pastors quitting since 2015, but it did show that younger pastors are more likely to be stressed than older ones. That finding could prove to be a problem down the road. If young pastors don’t see a change in their stress levels, burnout could come earlier — and harder — than it has in the past.

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