I recently ran a survey of Church of Christ ministers to assess their health and self-care. I am going to be presenting a very small portion of that information at the Pepperdine lectures next week. There were a lot of things in the data that were encouraging and some things that scream just how much we need to take care of ministers and how ministers need to be encouraged to take care of themselves. I cannot tell you how important it is in ministry to have some level of support built into your life and ministry.
Here are a few things you might find interesting from the survey. I promise to publish far more results after Pepperdine lectures as there is some very valuable and eye-opening information here.
Have you ever experienced a mental health issue as a result of ministry?
- Yes – 34%
- No – 66%
Have you ever experienced high levels anxiety as a result of ministry? (Severe enough to impair your
life and/or work)
- Yes – 52%
- No – 48%
Of those who said yes, 31% experienced significant levels of anxiety in the last month, 39% in the last 3 months and a whopping 73% in the last 12 months.
How many months has it been since you have seen a medical doctor?
- The average time since last doctor visit was 25 months (keep in mind, this is over 100 respondents!)
- 27% reported it being over a year since they last saw a doctor.
Have you ever considered leaving ministry for good?
- Yes – 63%
- No – 37%
Interestingly enough there was no difference of length of time in ministry between those who said yes and those who said no. I wondered the yes’s had been in ministry longer on average than the no’s but analysis of variance showed no average difference between the yes’s and the no’s.
However, there were a number of areas where the yes’s and the no’s differed in statistically significant ways: satisfaction with one’s mental health, marital satisfaction was 1/1000th of a point off of being statistically significant at the 95% confidence level, spiritual connection with spouse, how ministry has affected your spouse, how ministry has affected your kids. Those who have considered leaving ministry report more negatively in those areas than those who have not seriously considered leaving ministry for good.
In addition to that there was also a statistical difference between those who have and have not considered leaving ministry in how much time they spend/week in personal Bible study. Related to that, there is a correlation between personal Bible study and how balanced you feel your ministry is. Those who spend more time in personal (not for teaching of preaching) Bible study also report feeling more balanced in their ministry.
Last, do ministers have people in their life they can confess to if they are in need of support? Here is the question, “If you had something you needed to confess to someone is there someone in your life you could do
that with? (besides your spouse)”
- Yes – 85%
- No – 15%
Those who have someone to confess to report being more balanced in their ministry, report a better overall relationship with God, and report being significantly more hopeful about the future than those who say they have no one to confess to. This was determined by analysis of variance with confession being the independent factor/variable and Likert scales used to measure these dependent variables.
There are hundreds of other observations that could be share and will be shared but this gives you an idea. The survey examined physical, mental, relational and spiritual health. If you are at Pepperdine come join me Friday afternoon at 3:30! The class we be much more than a presentation of statistics. We will also talk about self-care, resources and approaches to help us navigate this often difficult thing called ministry. God bless and thanks for reading!
Important work sir. Keep it up.
I’m very interested in this. For over 25 years I have been involved in a ministry called Safety Net. In those years I have spent time with over 1500 preachers and elders, 90% of them being from Churches of Christ and Christian churches. I don’t have statistics, but I have stories, testimonies, confessions, and cries for help. This is a much needed ministry.