New research shows pastors are feeling lonelier and more isolated than in recent years.
According to the Barna Group, a group of pastors reported feeling more left out of their church community, even while providing support to that very same group of people.
Last year, 65% of pastors reported feeling lonely or isolated at times. That number is up from 42% in 2015.
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Barna also asked pastors if they felt well-supported by people close to them. In 2015, 68% said “yes” but, last year, that number dropped to 49%.
Barna also found only about 35% of pastors get monthly spiritual support from a network of peers or a mentor.
“These relationships do not flourish by accident,” Dr. Glenn Packiam, Barna senior fellow and pastor, said. “They require attention and intentionality. … Life is too full of the demands of ministry, the chaos of kids’ activities, and the many unpredictable events for us to just hope that meaningful connection will just happen.”
He continued, “Anything worth having is worth pursuing. The chase for deep friendships and intimate relationships is a lifelong quest. But it can begin today. If we really want to last in ministry, if we want to emerge from this as truly and fully human beings, then we must take seriously the human vocation of loving well.”
But as CBN News has reported, pastors are not only facing loneliness, they are burnt out as well.
According to Lifeway Research’s 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study, 75% of pastors say they are extremely stressed, and 90% report they work between 55-75 hours per week.
Pastor Joshua Smith of Light Elk Grove Church in Elk Grove, California, recently told CBN’s “Prayer Link” it is important for pastors to recharge.
“We need to be wise with God’s calling on our life, steward it, and make sure it doesn’t crush us,” he explained. “We know God’s burden is light, but we also need to pray for a spirit of wisdom, so we can delegate some of those tasks that God has not called us to.”
Smith says pastors can’t be in denial of their need for rest, because it is harmful to pour from an empty cup.
“You and I need to know what grace we walk in so we are not carrying a burden that we are not designed to carry,” he shared. “We also need to be ok with being human and being vulnerable. We need rest. We need to recharge.”
In his book, “The Resilient Pastor,” Packiam aims to let church leaders know they are not alone and that it is OK to ask for help.
“Pastors who are bucking the trend toward burnout tend to portray a strong connection with others around them, a flourishing connection with God, and a sense of optimism about the future of the church,” he shared. “They are energized by their jobs, feel well supported by the people in their lives, and are generally satisfied with their mental, emotional, and spiritual health.”
“It is possible to last, to be faithful, to be resilient — not by might, not by power, but by the same Holy Spirit who sustained the church throughout the centuries,” Packiam added.
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