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Barna Report: Pastors’ Job Satisfaction, Ministry Confidence Rise Since 2022

By Liz Lykins
minister pastor platform church evangelical confidence
(Photo: Thiago Barletta / Unsplash / Creative commons)

More pastors are reporting satisfaction with their jobs and confidence in their calling, according to a nuevo reporte from the research firm Barna Group. Pastoral confidence is up 16% from 2022 to 2023, the data shows.

The data was published in The State of Pastors, Volume 2, a report created in partnership with World Vision, Brotherhood Mutual, RightNow Media, and World Impact. Barna published Volume 1 in 2017 and then did follow-up pastor polls in 2021 to analyze the impact of burnout brought on by the pandemic.

At that time, “things for pastors were looking dire,” Barna said.

In 2022, only 35% of pastors said they were “more confident” in their calling than they had been when they started ministry, according to Barna. However, the research firm’s latest study found that that number increased to 51% in 2023. Additionally, another 39% of pastors reported they are “just as confident.”

The number of pastors who reported being “less confident” in their calling was just 9% in 2023, down from 14% in 2022.

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barna group confidence pastors
(Graphic: Barna Group)

In all, Barna conducted more than 500 online interviews with Protestant senior pastors for its study. While the research group noted there is still work to be done, these trends are encouraging.

“We’re not quite at the crisis levels that we were at during the height of the last season,” Barna CEO David Kinnaman dijo at a launch event for Volume 2. “But the world of pastoring has really shifted. This idea that we’ve been spiritual frontline workers is not just your imagination.”

The research firm also found that the number of pastors reporting satisfaction in their job is up.

About 59% of pastors in 2023 said they are “very satisfied” with their vocation — a seven-point jump from the prior year.  Regarding ministry at their current churches, 47% of pastors said they are “very satisfied” with it, a dramatic increase from the 38% in 2022.

However, Barna noted that this rebound isn’t as noticeable among female or younger pastors. The research firm found that 32% of female pastors and 38% of young pastors said they are “very satisfied” with their ministry at their current church.” Comparatively, 49% of male pastors and 50% of older felt the same. 

“Age and gender discrepancies have long lingered within job satisfaction among pastors, and it seems the recent rebound has done little to narrow these gaps,” Barna said. “It should act as a wake-up call that younger and emerging pastors—the Church’s future leaders—seem to be the most vulnerable to the challenges of the vocation.”

Fewer pastors are considering quitting

The jumps in pastoral confidence and satisfaction go “hand in hand” with the number of pastors who have contemplated leaving full-time ministry in the past year, Barna said.

In January 2021, Barna found that 29% of pastors had given real, serious consideration to quitting. By March 2022, that number spiked to 42% of pastors — about four in 10 — who had considered quitting full-time ministry. Now, that number has gone down to 33%.

barna group confidence pastors
(Graphic: Barna Group)

“Today’s pastors are finding their footing after a prolonged period of destabilization,” Barna said. The research firm added while there is “obviously room for improvement,” the data shows that growth is doable.

“The general boost in pastoral job satisfaction suggests that change is possible and downward trends are reversible,” Barna said. “We can help turn the tide on pastoral burnout and equip a new generation of Christian leaders to minister to their communities with confidence and compassion.”

Founded in 1984, the organization has conducted more than 2 million interviews to study faith, culture, and leadership.

Freelance journalist Liz Lykins escribe for WORLD Magazine, Christianity Today, Ministry Watch, and other publications.

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3 Respuestas

  1. With all due respect to the excellent writer here, after serving at the same church for 33 years and counting, I must clearly say that our satisfaction must always come from knowing The Lord Himself.

    Anything else is going to always be superficial; as are these pseudo-scientific surveys. Remember what Mark Twain allegedly said about lies and statistics.

    1. I concur; knowing the LORD. However, there’s a difference between knowing the LORD vs. the LORD knowing you. The wise ones will understand this difference.

      In the past, I have wrestled with this concern. LORD, while I believe I know you, do you know me?

      And I take great comfort in knowing that the LORD answered back in a still small voice: “my daughter, I know you”. If I do nothing else in this life, THIS is sufficient for me.

  2. “JOB”. Operative word there. The wise ones among them will ask: But, does the LORD find my performance as a pastor satisfactory? THIS is the infinitely supremely eternally the essential part.

    To that the scripture will say:

    “Let each examine himself, to see whether he is truly in faith….(2 Cor 13:5), lest any man whose heart is turned away from the LORD, and though he walks in the imagination of his heart, should think to himself, I shall have peace (or insert “job satisfaction”), THIS is like to add drunkenness to thirst. The LORD will not spare this one (Deut 29:18-20a). For in that day (of judgement), he will say, but LORD, I was very satisfied preaching and prophesying in your Name; and to that one will the LORD say, but, I don’t really know you, “depart from me” you worker of iniquity (Matt 7: 21-23).

    Selah.

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Hola. Vemos que este es el tercer artículo de este mes que ha encontrado que vale la pena leer. ¡Estupendo! ¿Consideraría hacer una donación deducible de impuestos para ayudar a nuestros periodistas a continuar informando la verdad y restaurar la iglesia?

Su donación deducible de impuestos ayuda a nuestros periodistas a informar la verdad y responsabilizar a los líderes y organizaciones cristianos. Haga una donación de $30 o más a The Roys Report este mes y recibirá una copia de “¿Y si Jesús hablara en serio acerca de la Iglesia?” por Skye Jethani.