Amid increasing social upheaval and chaos, what do America’s pastors need most today? That was the question at the center of Lifeway Research’s “2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors” study — and the results are deeply informative.
The research firm surveyed 1,000 pastors to ask about their most pressing needs. Lifeway found that the most prevalent needs surround the quest to develop churches and reach out to the unchurched.
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Seventy-seven percent said a major issue is “developing leaders and volunteers” and the second most cited (76 percent) was creating connections with “unchurched people.”
The third most cited need, though, might cause some pause and reflection, as the first two essentials require engaged congregants who are willing to learn, grow, and reach out to communities.
And yet 75% of pastors said the third most pressing issue is the apathy and lack of commitment that exists — a notable problem for church leaders who are working to not only grow congregations but to also speak into the hearts and minds of parishioners and the public at large.
Teamed with this need, 72% said “consistency in personal prayer” is also a pressing issue.
While all other indicators fell below 70%, there were a plethora of additional needs, including the building of friendships and fellowship with other Christians, consistent Bible reading, and the repenting of personal sin.
The study, as Lifeway Research executive director Scott McConnell said, shows no shortage of “staggering” issues pastors face today.
“All seven spiritual needs asked about on the survey are a current concern for most pastors, as well as practical, mental, self-care, skill-development and needs around ministry difficulties,” he said. “Clearly pastors are not looking for shortcuts and are taking their roles as spiritual leaders in their church seriously.”
Another element worth noting is the difficulty of being a pastor, especially today. Past research has shown the position can be lonely, stressful, and, at moments, harrowing, with burnout striking some. And, as McConnell said in his analysis, the data shows that preachers tend to place ministry needs above personal needs.
“When asked to prioritize their own greatest need, pastors tend to put the needs of their church’s ministry ahead of personal needs,” McConnell said. “Personally making disciples, developing leaders, connecting with those outside the church and mobilizing the people in their church are the most common ‘greatest needs’ and are among the most common needs pastors want to make a priority.”
These priorities are noble and appropriate, though the reality might also be a call to Christians to ensure they are offering support — including on a personal level — to their pastors.
Preachers themselves (75%) said they are interested in getting assistance on issues they face from fellow pastors, yet another noteworthy finding.
Read more about pastors’ greatest needs here.
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