According to the Barna Group’s recent comparative study on the state of pastors, by the end of 2022, only 52% of pastors feel satisfied in their vocation as a pastor compared to 72% in 2015. In addition, only 38% of pastors feel very satisfied with their ministry at their current church compared to 53% in 2015. Today, only 32% of pastors feel confident about their calling compared to when they first entered the ministry, whereas 66% of pastors felt confident in 2015.
Admittedly, every vocation has its ups and downs. The difference is that pastoral ministry is much more than a vocation. Before pastoral ministry is ever endowed with employment status, it is a calling that has been personally embraced, sacrificially prepared for and confirmed — over many years — by mentors, spouses, other ministers, professors, congregations and sending churches.
The pre-pandemic and post-pandemic differences explored through Barna’s State of the Pastor study are astonishing.
Having facilitated churches and pastoral applicants through scores of pastoral searches, I can attest that:
every church needs an excellent pastor
placing excellent pastors is very challenging work, and
we cannot afford to lose our pastors to unexplored discouragement
Though pastors do and will experience the Elijah effect (1 Kings 19), they need to be encouraged and emboldened, knowing that they are not alone and that thousands of ministers are still enduring and even flourishing in their ministry calling. Here are a few practical observations and opportunities regarding the church and pastoral encouragement:
2. Beyond compensation adjustments, and according to 1 Kings 19:18, we see that God shared the state of 7000 persevering ministers to encourage Elijah in his ministry calling. As we move into the spring and summer seasons, please take advantage of opportunities for pastors to connect with other faithful ministers through our monthly pastoral LEAD Teams.
3. Finally, churches, please encourage and bless your ministers to take some vacation time this summer, to recharge with their families, and to be encouraged through intentional vacation visits to other churches.
Though it is important for all Christ-followers, the State of the Pastor study helps us understand that it is essential for our pastors and ministry families to be renewed in their calling and to taste and see the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness in this season.
Jim Capaldo, District Executive Minister, Converge Heartland
A graduate of Baptist Bible College, Western Seminary, Novosibirsk State University and the University of South Dakota, Jim served 11 years establishing a church planting movement among the formerly unreached Tuvan tribe of Siberian Russia. Besides church planting, he has pastored at ChangePoint Church in Anchorage, Alaska, and at Central Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facilitates StratOp retreats, serves on various ministry boards and regularly instructs for the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course.