You can easily find pastor burnout statistics all over the internet. Some are very overwhelming – like saying that 48% of pastors marriages end in divorce. I for one have my doubts about that one. As do I about quite a few numbers.
I wish they were all true – because then my job of convincing people that pastoral burnout is ravaging pastors would be easy. I tried to find the truth behind the pastor burnout statistics. I tried to find the original studies that produced the numbers. But in most cases I couldn’t find the source.
However, there are a lot of pastor burnout statistics that are reputable… and they are very troubling. Many of the numbers below come from H. B. London’s book, Pastors at Greater Risk.
Pastor Burnout by the Numbers
According to the New York Times (August 1, 2010)
“Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”
- 13% of active pastors are divorced.
- Those in ministry are equally likely to have their marriage end in divorce as general church members.
- The clergy has the second highest divorce rate among all professions.
- 23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
- 25% don’t know where to turn when they have a family or personal conflict or issue.
- 25% of pastors’ wives see their husband’s work schedule as a source of conflict.
- 33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
- 33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
- 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
- 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
- 45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
- 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
- 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
- 56% of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends.
- 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
- 70% don’t have any close friends.
- 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
- 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
- 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
- 90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
- 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
- 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
- 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.
- Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.
The hardest thing about these numbers is that the numbers only tell half the story. The other half is that congregations don’t know or understand the nature of pastoral stress. And when a pastor breaks down or has a moral failure, congregations, for lack of a better word, “kick the pastor to the curb.”
Whether you are a pastor, a former pastor, or a congregation member, I hope these clergy burnout statistics help clarify the problem. And more importantly, I hope they help you focus your ministry to pastors.
You might also find helpful my page on clergy burnout statistics.
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