How are our ministers’ families doing and what sort of effect is ministry having on the families of our ministers? Along with that, how are our ministers’ doing in their own relationship with God and what seems to affect that? Last, how healthy are our ministers in their ministry? What can they do to help themselves become healthier and what can congregations and leadership do to help? We tackle these questions and more in this post as we continue to report results from our 2017 ministerial health survey.

Marriage and Family Health

98% of respondents were married. This is right in line with Barna’s recent numbers in their “State of Pastors” report. Here are some of the questions and results:

Marital satisfaction

How spiritually connected are you with your spouse?

How has ministry affected your spouse?

How has ministry affected your children?

How spiritually connected are you with your children?

Almost all of these questions correlated highly with each other. That isn’t any real surprise. The one correlation that stood out is how ministry has affected your spouse and relationship with elders! Ministers reported some very positive results here, better than I would have expected. I am very happy to see that. It is still sad to recognize that some are truly struggling.

Ministerial Health

Average hours/week in ministry – 45.5

What will your next employment be?

I believe we need to pay attention to this. Roughly half the ministers in this sample are certain that their next job will be in a congregational setting. I find that shocking.

Have you ever considered leaving ministry for good?

I took a deeper look at these numbers through an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). As I said previously an ANOVA compares means between two distinct groups to see if there is statistically significant differences between the groups on continuous variables. I found a number of statistically significant differences (all of these are at the .05 level or better, which means we are 95% sure these is really a difference between the groups of those who have and those who have not considered leaving ministry on a number of things.

They differ statistically on:

This shows some distinct differences between those who considered at one time or another throwing in the ministerial towel for good. This also shows us that one way to combat this is to spend more time in personal/devotional study (study not in lesson prep).

Last, we asked about how balanced ministers felt they were in balancing ministry with other responsibilities. We found a high correlation between balance and stress. Less balanced ministers report higher stress that more balanced ministers.

Spiritual health

How are our ministers doing spiritually? How is their relationship with God?  Who do they turn to for help and how often?

91% of ministers report having someone to confide in.

85% of ministers report having someone to confess to.

Who do they turn to for this type of support (other than your spouse)?

These numbers are what I expected they would be. They are turning to outside help first and less likely to turn to someone in the congregation. Only 14% would first turn to one of their elders in this situation.

How frequently are they seeking support (listed in order of frequency)?

How satisfied are they with their own relationship with God?

How hopeful are they about the future?

Let’s look a bit more deeply at the numbers to find out more about what is going on. If we look at two distinct groups – those who have someone to turn to (85%) and those who report they don’t (15%), what differences do we find between those two groups (via ANOVA)? Those who don’t have someone to confess to

It should alarm us that 15% of our ministers say they have no one to turn to for support. Of those who do have someone only half are doing so a few times a year or better.

What does satisfaction in their relationship with God correlate with?

I know this is a lot to consider. I am going to do at least one more post pulling from the first three to talk about what all of this means and what we can do to help our ministers be healthier and what ministers can adjust in their lives and ministries for better and healthier outcomes.

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