There’s an old song written and performed by Kenny Rogers many years ago entitled, Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Was In. I’m very grateful for the Barna Group in association with Pepperdine University for making their State of Pastors seminar available online yesterday. As a pastor, it provided a great opportunity to just drop in and see what condition my condition was in!
Again, many thanks to the Barna group and the individual who apparently underwrote the study for having the heart to tackle a subject that has needed to be responsibly addressed for a long time now. Over the past many years, much of what has been circulated, particularly regarding the burnout rate of pastors, has been based upon hearsay. The recirculating stat that had reached the status of “urban legend” which stated that 1500 pastors per month were leaving the ministry seemed to grow the more it was repeated- the last time I noticed a reference it was up to 1800/month! My understanding is that legend emerged from simply a well-intentioned best guess stated by a pastoral leader with a national ministry organization and was never the result of good research. But we sure took it and ran with it because it definitely caught people’s attention.
I regret that I didn’t get to hear the entire State of the Pastor presentation but wanted to share some things I did get to take away. One, as I just alluded to, we learned that pastors are doing better than we’ve all heard for so long now. I never heard any stats related to the hearsay above as to how many pastors are leaving the ministry every month, but I did hear solid research stating that only 11% of pastors are in imminent danger of burnout. This backed up some similar research done and shared by LifeWay awhile back.
Most alarming is that 66% of pastors are at “spiritual risk.” The easiest way of describing that is they are struggling spiritually. What makes that stat even more concerning is that “personal soul care” (or the lack thereof) is the leading indicator for burnout.
I’ll continue to share more takeaways in the next posting, but let me just here for now with this question: are you doing good self-care; especially good personal soul care? In other words, as we pastors typically ask a church member, how’s your walk with God?