Pastors' Satisfaction in Their Work Takes Nosedive


The percentage of pastors who are "very satisfied" with their jobs has drastically decreased in the past eight years, and it's a strong indication of why many believe the church itself is in decline today, a new Barna Group study has revealed.

In 2015, a solid 72% of pastors said they felt "very satisfied" with their position. That number has dropped to only 52%, according to the latest numbers from Barna.

Barna Group CEO David Kinnaman says there are many factors involved, not the least of which was having to deal with the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

"Pastors have been frontline workers of a sort the last three years, and the toll of stress, isolation, resentment and division continues to impact pastors negatively. It is alarming that the number of pastors experiencing satisfaction in their work continues to decline," Kinnaman says.

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"This drop in vocational satisfaction may cause significant problems for churches in the future. This research underscores the need for major interventions to support and sustain pastors in their work."

The study, conducted last fall, included 585 online interviews with pastors in the U.S. Quotas were set to ensure representation by denomination, church size and region, and oversampling was conducted to reach female senior pastors.

Not only are pastors becoming dissatisfied with their vocation, they are also losing confidence in their calling, the study revealed. Only 35% of pastors said they were "more confident" in their calling than they were when the started, and just half (50%) said they were "just as" confident. That's a decrease of 16% from 2015.

March CM CoverMany also conveyed that they are not content at their current church. Only 38% of those surveyed said they were happy with where they are now.

"As pastors feel less satisfied in their jobs and more doubtful of their call to ministry, it seems that the role is now taking a greater toll on church leaders than it used to," said Joe Jensen, vice president of church engagement of Barna Group. "Looking forward, it is important for church congregations to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges their leaders are facing, and then to encourage, support and care for them more deeply."

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Shawn A. Akers is the online editor at Charisma Media.

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