Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Burned out, exhausted, leaving: A new survey finds clergy are not OK

By Rev. Michael Wooff

The Rev. Michael Woolf, Th.D., is senior minister of Lake Street Church of Evanston, Illinois, and co-associate regional minister for white and multicultural churches at the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago.

(RNS) — In January, the Hartford Institute for Religion Research released a foundational report about the health of America’s churches and the leaders that serve them in the post-COVID-19 moment. The survey’s title, “I’m Exhausted All the Time,” will resonate with anyone who, like me, is leading a house of worship these days. But I wish the news were even that good.

The report, from Hartford’s Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations project, documents the growing number of American clergy who are burned out and have considered leaving either their current congregation — 44% — or the profession itself — more than half (53%). The latter figure represents an increase of 16% since 2021. The percentage of those considering leaving their current congregations, meanwhile, has more than doubled.

This isn’t the time for U.S. congregations to be facing the type of leadership transition of this magnitude. Less than half of participants in the study reported that their churches had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels of attendance or giving. Congregations are also less willing to embrace change than they were pre-pandemic, according to study participants, reversing several years of pandemic gains that saw congregations embrace change in order to survive.

Read his full column here.