Your pastor cares when you don’t care …… | News and reports

Pastors face unique challenges inherent in their careers, but what are their greatest needs? The pastors themselves say they are more concerned with seeing their congregation grow spiritually and connecting with those outside their churches.

After speaking directly with pastors to gather their perspectives on their ministry and personal challenges, Lifeway Research interviewed 1,000 American pastors for the 2022 The Greatest Needs of Pastors study to find out what they see as their most pressing issues.

“The pre-existing challenges of ministry have been magnified by COVID, and it is important that we lean in and listen carefully to pastors,” said Ben Mandrell, president of Lifeway Christian Resources. “This project has shed light on their critical needs and will show the way forward in how we partner with them to nurture their ministries and improve their health in multiple areas.”

Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said his team began the study by speaking with more than 200 pastors, asking them to think beyond the current struggles of the pandemic and share some of pastors’ lingering needs. and their churches today.

“Their responses to the challenges they face and the areas most important to them were then presented to over 200 additional pastors,” said McConnell. “Based on these responses, 1,000 pastors were asked about four dozen needs to measure how well each is something they need to address today.”

Of the 44 needs identified by pastors and included in the study, 17 were selected by a majority as a problem to be addressed.

  • Development of leaders and volunteers: 77%
  • Foster links with non-believers: 76%
  • People’s apathy or lack of engagement: 75%
  • Consistency in personal prayer: 72%
  • Friendships and camaraderie with others: 69%
  • Training of current leaders and volunteers: 68%
  • Consistency of Bible reading unrelated to preparation for a sermon or teaching: 68%
  • Trust in God: 66%
  • Relations with other pastors: 64%
  • Consistency to take a Sabbath: 64%
  • Tension: 63%
  • Make personal disciples: 63%
  • Confess and repent of personal sin: 61%
  • Consistency exercise: 59%
  • Avoid over-engagement and overwork: 55%
  • Challenge people where they lack obedience: 55%
  • Time management: 51%

“The number and extent of the needs that pastors face today are staggering,” said McConnell. “The seven spiritual needs questioned in the survey are of current concern to most pastors, as well as practical, mental, personal care, skill development, and ministry challenges. It is clear that pastors do not look for shortcuts and take their role as spiritual leaders in their church seriously.

The 44 identified needs fall into seven broader categories. Subsequent versions of Lifeway Research’s 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study will explore each of the categories and related needs in particular.

Greatest need

When asked to narrow their list down to the greatest need requiring their attention, pastors’ responses varied.

At least one pastor interviewed chose each of the 44 possible needs, while 23 needs gathered at least 2 percent of pastors. Eight needs were chosen by over 3% of pastors, and one reached double-digit numbers.

  • Apathy or lack of commitment from people: 10%
  • Make personal disciples: 9%
  • Foster links with non-believers: 8%
  • Development of leaders and volunteers: 7%
  • Establish a compelling vision: 5%
  • Technology: 4%
  • Consistency in personal prayer: 4%
  • Regularity exercise: 4%

“When asked to prioritize their greatest need, pastors tend to put their church’s ministry needs above personal needs,” said McConnell.

“Personal discipleship, training leaders, connecting with people outside the church, and mobilizing members of their church are the most common ‘greatest needs’ and are some of the most common needs that pastors want. make it a priority. “

Pastoral help

When thinking about getting help for their needs, pastors want to hear from fellow clergy who have been through the same challenges.

Three in four American pastors (75%) say they would be interested in getting advice or guidance on issues they face from other pastors who have experienced these issues in the past. Similar numbers (74%) would like to hear from those who understand churches like theirs.

Another 70 percent would listen to other pastors who are currently facing the same needs. Slightly fewer (57%) want to hear from experts on these types of needs. Older pastors are the least likely to say they would like advice from any of these sources.

“The most monumental needs of pastors are not new to this generation of pastors,” McConnell said. “They know that other pastors and pastors who have come before them are in the best position to understand them and help them with the wide variety of ministries and personal needs that a pastor faces.”

Yet previous Lifeway studies show that not all pastors actively seek the guidance of their fellow clergy. More than 8 in 10 American Protestant pastors say they feel supported by other pastors in their area. Less than half (46%), however, know of and spend time with 10 or more other local pastors, according to a 2020 Lifeway Research survey.

Most pastors (54%) have these relationships with less than 10 other clergy in the area, including 1 in 20 (5%) who are unrelated to any pastor in the area and 8% who have no pastors in the area. relations only with one or two other ministers.

Pastors can also look to retired pastors for advice and wisdom to overcome common challenges. A 2019 Lifeway Research study of retired Protestant pastors, ministers and missionaries found that some were struggling to transition into retirement and were looking for ways to serve and connect with others.

More than 4 in 5 retired ministry employees (86%) say they have continued to make new friends in recent years, but 29% admit to feeling lonely or isolated.

When asked what resources would help them the most in their relationships today, most responded that they wanted to make additional connections in ministry: 25% say they make friends who have a similar experience in ministry , 23% make friends who live near me, 20% relate to a church where I am not a leader, and 17% make friends who have had a similar leadership experience.

“Retired pastors and other ministry employees still want to serve the church,” McConnell said. “When asked by Lifeway Research how ministries could better serve those like themselves who have retired from full-time ministry, the most common response was to provide them with opportunities to serve or serve (16%). Current pastors seeking guidance can find retired pastors ready and willing to help.

The telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted from March 30 to April 22, 2021. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percent.

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