I’m very grateful for the work of the Barna Research Group on the current state of pastors in the United States which they shared in a recent online seminar. The news was much better in many ways and still alarming in others. As I mentioned previously, the mythological figure of 1500-1800 pastors leaving the ministry per month was never the result of an accurate research but simply an off-the-cuff “guesstimate” by a popular pastoral counselor that many of us took and ran with over the years because it grabbed people’s attention, of course. However, pastors are still struggling in significant ways. One out of nine are fighting burnout. One in five struggle with an addictive behavior- from porn to alchohol to opiates. And, one half of all pastors battle with depression. Contributing to that battle with depression is the fact that half of all pastors struggle with feeling isolated and lonely, compared with only 40% of average Americans. And, pastors feel more inadequate about their work or calling more than the average American as well.

The Barna Group focused on the fact that two levels of self-care are needed for pastors; self-care through spiritual disciplines and crisis care provided by prayer partnership in relationship with others. They found that nearly half of pastors struggle with finding time to invest in their own personal spiritual health. Pastors find it too tempting to equate work with spiritual practice. An important correlation to that issue is that the Barna Group also discovered in their research that personal consistency of spiritual practices translated to overall satisfaction and low risk metrics.

One of their final conclusions was this: it’s important for pastors to find safe people and safe places! Of course, I loved to hear that because that’s what CPR is all about! Indeed, that’s one of the great benefits provided by a CPR group. You participate with safe people- fellow pastors, in a safe place selected by the group. CPR is a terrific means of self-care for any pastor. A CPR group is simply a Celebrate Recovery 12 step group for pastors. Don’t fear stepping out to lead a group- it’s a simple process and is guided by the Holy Spirit. And, again, it’s safe and completely confidential! If you’re a pastor and have read this far, please consider starting a group in your area! We are ready to help in any way we can with ideas on how to do that. Send me an email to hess for more information.

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