“I’m Exhausted All the Time”: Exploring the Factors Contributing to Growing Clergy Discontentment

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research has released a study finding high levels of discontentment among Christian clergy in the U.S.

The study, “I’m Exhausted All the Time”: Exploring the Factors Contributing to Growing Clergy Discontentment” includes survey data from about 1,700 religious leaders gathered in the Fall of 2023, which was compared to data from earlier EPIC surveys of clergy leaders and their congregations. It is is part of a larger project entitled Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations. 

Nearly half of pastors surveyed in this study said they have considered leaving their congregation and over half have thought about leaving the ministry completely. The main factors driving these thoughts are relational disconnect and conflict within congregations rather than general dissatisfaction with ministry.

The report identifies potential solutions in improving dynamics around conflict, relationships, and outlook for the future. Both clergy self-care and addressing contextual factors within churches are seen as important in reducing clergy discontentment.

This is just one wave of a collaborative, five-year research project funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and led by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace. We will continue to release targeted analyses of more specific findings from our topical surveys. Our previous reports can be found here.

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