Study Reveals Many Pastors Struggle with Friendships, Mental Health

Study Reveals Many Pastors Struggle with Friendships, Mental Health

A new study conducted by Barna Group, in conjunction with Pepperdine University, has revealed current trends among America’s pastors.

Charisma News reports that the study, called “The State of Pastors,” included interviews with over 14,000 Protestant pastors from 40 different denominations. The entire report is 175 pages long.

One of the major findings of the study was that America’s pastors are growing older and there aren’t as many millennials entering careers as pastors.

"As other careers woo millennials and older generations struggle to hand the baton to younger pastors, the median age of pastors has risen from 44 to 54 over the last 25 years,” the study found.

Among those pastors, however, 91 percent reported that they were doing well in their overall quality of life and spiritual well-being.

Pastors do face particular struggles, the study found, including the findings that:

  • Pastors are not immune to mental health struggles: Almost half have faced depression, while one in five pastors has struggled with an addiction—most commonly, to porn.
  • Women now represent nine percent of senior pastors—triple the percentage of 25 years ago—but they frequently lead smaller churches and feel greater scrutiny. Women pastors are more likely than men to say they feel lonely or isolated from others.
  • Nearly all pastors acknowledged that churches play a critical role in racial reconciliation
  • Pastors report greater marital and parental satisfaction than the general population, though half say their current church tenure has been hard on their family.
  • Pastors don't do as well with friendships. They are more likely than the general population to feel isolated and lonely. Gen-X pastors in particular seem to have a harder time making friends and feeling connected—they're more similar to people their age (30s-40s) in the general population than to their ministry colleagues.


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Publication date: March 1, 2017