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Startling Numbers

There are approximately 600,000 paid clergy in North America.
Over 65% of them were abused as children, and most have not addressed that abuse. (1)
The average congregation in North America is between 100 and 700 members. (2)

Pastoral Burnout (3)

100% of pastors had a close associate or seminary buddy who left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.
90% of pastors stated they are frequently fatigued, and worn out on a weekly and even daily basis (did not say burned out).
89% of pastors considered leaving the ministry at least once.
77% of pastors report marriage discontent.
75% of pastors feel unqualified and/or poorly trained to lead, manage, or counsel their congregations
72% of pastors stated they only studied the Bible when preparing for sermons or lessons.
71% of pastors state they are burned out, battle depression & fatigue on a daily/weekly basis.
57% of pastors would leave ministry if they had a better place to go-including secular work
Only 38% of pastors use Scripture as a part of their regular devotional practice
Only 26% of pastors report regular personal devotions and report adequate personal, and spiritual growth.
Only 23% of pastors feel happy and content spiritually, in their church, and at home!

Pastoral Personal Health

70% of pastors report ministry damaged their self-esteem.
57% of pastors do not exercise or have a regular exercise plan
Only 56% of pastors regularly take a day off each week
46% of pastors experienced depression or burnout and needed to take a leave of absence.
21% of pastors do not take any days off
Only 21% of pastors acknowledge having hobbies or outside interests

Clergy Sexual Misconduct (4)

51% of pastors say that Internet pornography is a possible temptation for them Approximately
20% of the monthly calls to Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Ministries Division are because of sexual misconduct and pornography
More than 30% of pastors are functionally addicted to Internet pornography (5)
More than 15% of pastors engage in sexual behavior that they consider inappropriate (6)
10-14% of pastors have sexual contact with someone other than their spouse while employed as a minister (7)
There are an average of seven victims of clergy sexual misconduct per affected congregation (8)

Ministry Family Struggles

80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with spouse
48% of pastors think being in ministry is hazardous to family well-being
58% of pastors’ spouses work to supplement family income
66% of pastors’ families feel pressure to appear to be an ideal family

Ministry Spouses

56% of pastors’ spouses say they that they have no close friends
45% of pastors’ spouses say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual burnout

Pastoral Life in the Church

90% of pastors work more than 46 hours a week.
75% of pastors report they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once
50% of pastors do not believe that they are capable of meeting job requirements
40% of pastors report serious congregational conflict at least once a month
40% of pastors say they’ve considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months.
19% of pastors indicate that they’d been forced out of ministry at least once during their ministry
Another 6% said they’d been fired from a ministry position

Congregational Expectations & Realities

On average, churchgoers expect their pastor to juggle an average of 16 major tasks each week
Pastors working less than 50 hrs/week are 35% more likely to be fired
90% of pastors work more than 46 hours a week
50 percent of all congregations in the United States are either plateauing or declining
67% of pastors reported that their congregation experienced conflict during the past two years; more than 20% of those were significant enough that members left the congregation
The typical pastor has his/her greatest ministry impact at a church in years 5 through 14 of his pastorate
The average pastor lasts only five years at a church

Social and Emotional Health

70% of pastors don’t consider that they have a close friend
Only 55% of pastors indicate that they receive support from a supportive small group
50% of pastors state that they’d see another pastor for counseling;
21% indicate they’d see no one

Preparation for Ministry

90% of pastors feel inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands
31% of pastors indicated that their seminary or Bible college training did not prepare them to handle conflict


  1.  Dan Allender (spring 2016) “Issues of abuse,” lectures at the Seattle School of Theology & Psychology: Seattle, WA
  2. Thoburn, J., Baker, R., & Dal, M. M. (2011). Clergy sexual misconduct: A systems approach to prevention, intervention, and oversight. Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.
  3. All statistics not cited are from: Fadling, A. (2009). Ministry burnout statistics [Blog]. Retrieved from https://anunhurriedlife.org/2009/06/03/ministry-burnout-stats/
  4. Thoburn & Dal (2011) Clergy sexual misconduct is defined as “the overt or covert expression by the clergy member toward a congregational member of erotic thoughts, feelings or gestures that are sexual or may be reasonably construed by the congregant as sexual.”
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
clergy sexual misconduct book coverClergy Sexual Misconduct: A Systems Approach to Prevention, Intervention & OversightEd. Thoburn, James & Baker Rob with Del Maso, Maria (Gentle Path Press: Carefree, AZ, 2011)