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Survey: Pastors Feel Positive, Privileged, Sometimes Lonely

Nearly all pastors feel privileged to be in ministry, according to a new study by LifeWay Research, and more than 90 percent feel strongly about it. But more than half say they get discouraged and at times feel lonely in their work.

Ed Stetzer, vice president of research and ministry development at LifeWay, said clearly there is great honor to being a pastor: “Many oft-quoted statistics speak of miserable and unhappy pastors, but that’s not what we see when we actually ask them.” But 55 percent say that at times they feel it is “easy to get discouraged,” and the same percentage say being in ministry makes them feel lonely at times.

Nearly 80 percent of pastors disagree that “ministry has had a negative effect on my family, with 58 percent strongly disagreeing.” “This statistic has to be one of the biggest surprises. Pastoring can be stressful on a family, but contrary to some hyped statistics, most do not believe that being a pastor has hurt their family.”

Another interesting point is that pastors of larger churches tend to be lonelier than those of smaller churches. Of those with congregations of less than 250, 59 percent strongly disagree that pastoral ministry makes them feel lonely at times, while only 17 percent of pastors with attendance of more than 250 strongly disagree. Also, older pastors are less lonely than younger pastors; 39 percent of pastors 65 and older strongly disagree that the ministry makes them feel lonely, while 29 percent of those 55–64, 21 percent of those ages 45–54, and 19 percent of those ages 18–44 feel the same.

For the complete data from this survey, click here.

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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including churchleaders.com and SermonCentral.com.