Home Christian News Only Half of Pastors ‘Very Satisfied’ With Their Jobs: Barna

Only Half of Pastors ‘Very Satisfied’ With Their Jobs: Barna

Barna Pastor Research
Photo by Dahiana Waszaj (via Unsplash)

A new study conducted by Barna Group has found that only 52% of pastors are “very satisfied” in their jobs. This constitutes a precipitous drop in pastoral satisfaction over the past number of years, as a similar study conducted in 2015 found that 72% were “very satisfied” with their jobs at that time.

Barna observed, “The number of pastors who feel burnt out, lonely or unwell is growing: To put it bluntly, Barna Group’s current data does not paint a pretty picture of the state of the American pastor.”

In addition to a drop in job satisfaction among pastors, Barna also discovered a drop in pastors’ confidence in their callings, as well as their general sense of well-being. 

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In 2022, only 35% of pastors surveyed reported feeling more confident in their callings relative to when they first began ministry. In 2015, that number was 66%. Thirty-eight percent of pastors said they “feel very satisfied with their ministry at their current church,” down from 53% in 2015. 

While the pandemic brought upon unique stressors, such as the inability to meet together, financial instability, and disagreements over pandemic-related safety measures, even as the effects of the pandemic begin to wane, pastors are still experiencing discouragement—especially young pastors. 

For instance, only 35% of pastors under the age of 45 are “very satisfied” with their jobs, with 66% of them saying they have experienced a period of significant doubt in their callings as pastors. 

Remarkably, these numbers have only continued on a downward trend since 2020. In 2020, 67% of all pastors said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs, which dropped to 52% in 2022. Forty-seven percent of pastors felt satisfied with their ministries at their current churches in 2020, a number that dropped to 38% in 2022.

Pastors’ confidence in their callings remained steady from 2020 to 2022 at 35%.

“Pastors have been frontline workers of a sort the last three years, and the toll of stress, isolation, resentment and division continues to impact pastors negatively,” said David Kinnaman, CEO of Barna Group, in a statement. “It is alarming that the number of pastors experiencing satisfaction in their work continues to decline.” 

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“This drop in vocational satisfaction may cause significant problems for churches in the future,” Kinnaman added. “This research underscores the need for major interventions to support and sustain pastors in their work.”