Are America's Pastors Fulfilled? New Study Unpacks How Ministers Feel

The recent Barna research sought to give insight to pastors' general well-being. (Unsplash/Erwan Hesry)

With Pastor Appreciation Month now concluded, parishioners can rest assured that their gestures of thankfulness did not go unnoticed, as a new study from Barna research found that most pastors feel supported and energized.

The call to pastoral ministry has its unique benefits and challenges, which Barna explored in partnership with Pepperdine University in a major study of how Protestant senior pastors in the U.S. navigate life and leadership in an age of complexity. The American Pastors Network (APN, AmericanPastorsNetwork.net), which frequently welcomes George Barna to its radio ministry, "Stand in the Gap Today," aims to be a support system to pastors around the country by offering useful resources, motivating events and fulfilling relationships with fellow pastors.

"Serving God's call as a pastor may be one of the most challenging occupations in the world, but it can also be one of the most rewarding," said APN President Sam Rohrer. "Therefore, it's encouraging that most pastors feel fulfilled in their roles, as well as supported by those around them and energized by their work. The American Pastors Network seeks to be another support system for pastors, who can sometimes feel isolated, unappreciated and overwhelmed. We seek to lift up pastors through events that encourage and equip them to speak truth from the pulpit, as well as inform them about the subjects that are impacting our culture daily so pastors can respond from a biblical and constitutional perspective."

The recent Barna research sought to give insight to pastors' general wellbeing: Are they satisfied with their quality of life? How is their physical, emotional and spiritual health? Are they motivated and supported, or do they struggle with exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy? Some of the results include the following:

  • Overall, 91 percent of pastors are satisfied with their quality of life, compared to 78 percent of practicing Christians and 62 percent of all U.S. adults.
  • 67 percent of pastors feel positive about their physical health (compared to 73 percent of Christians and 55 percent of all adults), 88 percent feel good about their spiritual health (87 percent Christians, 60 percent all adults) and 85 percent of pastors are satisfied with their emotional health (79 percent Christians, 63 percent all adults).
  • 73 percent of pastors are frequently motivated to become a better leader, 68 percent frequently feel well-supported by the people close to them and 60 percent are frequently energized by their work, as opposed to 22 percent, 43 percent and 24 percent of all adults, respectively.
  • However, pastors say they are sometimes plagued by feelings of inadequacy about their work (42 percent) or emotional/mental exhaustion (25 percent), while 70 percent of all adults say they sometimes experience feeling of inadequacy and 45 percent of adults say they are sometimes emotionally or mentally exhausted.

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Read the entire Barna study here. Barna research is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends since 1984.

Over the past several years, APN has focused on a concerted effort to grow its state pastors' network initiative through a plan to welcome pastors in all 50 states through networks. The ultimate goal is to develop free-standing state chapters of pastors and leaders in each state. These state networks will focus on their particular states and carry out the mission and purpose of the American Pastors Network, which include:

  1. Identifying, encouraging, equipping and educating pastors and church members to "Stand in the Gap for Truth";
  2. Being a voice for truth and an advocate for pastors in the public square by providing Bible-based and constitutionally consistent analysis and recommendations on matters of public policy; and
  3. Strengthening the biblical relationship between pastors and elected officials through various private and public meetings for prayer, study and policy discussion.

Current chapters are already doing the important work of providing timely, in-state leadership on issues impacting local families and congregations. Examples of their efforts include speaking out in the defense of marriage and standing up for religious liberty.

Rohrer, along with Gary Dull, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network (PPN, papastors.net), and Dave Kistler, president of the North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN, ncpastors.net), hosts the daily program "Stand in the Gap Today," the radio ministry of APN. Find a station here or listen online at AmericanPastorsNetwork.net by clicking on the orange "Listen Live" button on the right-hand side of the website daily at noon ET. Read more about the American Pastors Network and its "Stand in the Gap" radio ministry here.

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