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US pastors join race to quit as 38 percent thought of leaving ministry in past year

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(Photo: Facebook)Over 300 students graduated from Biola University on May 24. The school, over 100 years old, is a private evangelical Christian institution located outside of Los Angeles. All of its faculty, staff and students are professing Christians. Alumni David Kinnaman,president of Barna Group, a research company, said in the spring edition of the Biola Magazine that such institutions are still “vibrant” today in the backdrop of the secularization of American culture.

Many U.S pastors are in crisis mode and the mass of resignations plaguing the United States is reaching into churches at a startling level as nearly 4 in 10 in the ministry thought of quitting in the past year.

“Recent data collected from Barna’s pastor poll indicate that U.S. pastors are currently in crisis and at risk of burnout,” said the non-profit religion research company on Nov. 24

In 2021 alone, Barna Research found there has been a dramatic increase in the number of pastors who are thinking about quitting ministry entirely with their plight seeming to heighten since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barna found that 38 percent of pastors want to quit compared with 29 percent in January of 2021

“This is a growing crisis for church leaders in America,” says David Kinnaman, President of Barna Group.

“Now is the time for the Christian community to come alongside their pastors to pray and support them so they can continue to lead in healthy ways.”

Church attendance has slipped since the COVID-19 pandemic started, CBN News reported.

“During and after the pandemic, one-third of practicing Christians disengaged from their congregation – just sort of stopped showing up.” Kinnaman said.

More than 4,000 churches shut their doors in the United States in 2020.

That year more than 20,000 pastors left the ministry and 50 percent of current ministers say they would leave the church if they had another way of making a livelihood.

“I think the long-term effect of this is going to be a stronger church, but probably a smaller church,” Kinnaman said.

SIGNS BEFORE COVID

“We started seeing early warning signs of burnout among pastors before COVID,” said Barna’s Kinnaman, “with initial warning bells sounding in Barna’s The State of Pastors study in 2017.

“Now, after 18 months of the pandemic, along with intense congregational divisions and financial strain, an alarming percentage of pastors is experiencing significant burnout, driving them to seriously consider leaving ministry.”

CBN quoted Dr. Dwayne Bond, pastor and counselor at Wellspring Church in Charlotte, North Carolina who ascribed a number of reason for pulpit resignations.

The coronavirus pandemic shut churches, bringing on financial constraints for some. And the incessant political strife over mask wearing and taking vaccines are fragmenting many congregations.

“I think pastors are experiencing an overwhelming sense of responsibility and an overwhelming sense of loneliness because they’re pastoring people they don’t even know online,” Bond noted.

“And there’s so many different opinions. Everyone has an opinion, and it creates exhaustion and disunity.”

Barna said it has long been checking in on pastor’s well-being, even assessing their burnout risk in 2017’s The State of Pastors.

More recently, October 2021 data showed that many pastors are not faring well in multiple categories of well-being, including spiritual, physical, emotional, vocational, and financial.

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