Why would 7 out of 10 Pastors be looking for other work

Scott Sauls

Scott Sauls Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville recently said that 7 out of 10 pastors in America are looking for other work. He mentioned this statistic was brought to him by a staff member and by recollection thought it could be from Barna or Lifeway.

I’ve searched for the specific research for a couple of weeks but have not found that particular statistic. However, what has been very revealing is the poor state of Pastors’ mental health at this time. So I wanted to post some reasons gleaned from a number of sources as to why that might be.

I also want to say, I am incredibly thankful for my own church and that personally I am not searching for alternative work 🙂

  1. The Pandemic has been hard for Pastors too: Obvious I know, but every concern people face in this time is faced by Pastors. They too have lost friends, family, faced illness etc. Pastors miss their routines, miss seeing people and many are uncertain as to what the future will look like.
  2. They carry the burden of the church: The Apostle Paul said, “I face daily the pressure of concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:28 Pastors not only carry the burden of immediate family concerns but the concerns of their congregations too.
  3. Pastors feel less resilient when facing opposition: Opposition and criticism is normal for any leader but in this moment when the Church is meant to be a source of strength, faithfulness and care the usual levels of resilience are significantly weaker. Statistics also show that opposition and criticism for pastors has sharply risen during this time.
  4. Pastors feel ghosted by the majority of their congregations: Sauls said this, “Our people feel like they’re still with us because they see us and hear us from their living rooms, and yet, we just have this complete void of relationship,” Only a portion of the congregation comment, chat etc during online services and whilst numbers of views may signify the congregation is present the pastor has no way of knowing.
  5. Pastors have had to learn a variety of new skills: If like in the UK you are experiencing lockdown then the church building is more akin to a TV studio than a sanctuary for worship. The skills required for broadcasting services are very different to those required for leading services in-person.
  6. Pastors are worried about budgets: The concern of the long term effects of the pandemic on people is a concern for pastors who worry about what the people in their congregations may face. Alongside this is the worry many have as to whether their churches will meet budget.
  7. Many Pastors have had no time off: The pandemic has not produced, for most, a decreased workload but an increased one (see 5 above) and the inability to take time off is taking its toll.
  8. Pastors are discouraged because the pandemic has revealed the congregation is often discipled more by the culture than by Jesus: This has often proved the case throughout history but has been hidden somewhat, in recent times, by the prosperity and peace within western society. The last year has been a great revealer.