By Karen Stiller
“No sabbatical. No help with counseling. No clear picture of what’s expected.”
Those are the three main reasons given by hundreds of former senior pastors for why they left their pastorates, in a recently released report by American firm LifeWay Research.
Meanwhile, we hear fairly often that the depression rate found within the clergy community is twice as high as that of the general population. You can even buy a Pastor Burnout Workbook to “burnout proof your ministry.” It’s probably a great resource, but toiling alone through a workbook on burnout sounds a bit depressing in itself.
So, what can we do in the Church to help clergy — who seem to face huge and unique job challenges — remain well and healthy? What can clergy and church leaders do themselves to stay well and put in place the protective boundaries they need for their own health and the health of the Church? Not to mention their family at home.
Those are the kinds of questions we will be exploring in the next EFC Webinar, on clergy wellness. We’ve invited Wanda Malcolm and Mark Vander Vennen to be our guests. Malcolm is professor of pastoral psychology at Wycliffe College and lead researcher of the Wycliffe Wellness Project, investigating what brings wellness to clergy and others engaged in ministry.
Vander Vennen is a marriage and family therapist and executive director of the Shalem Mental Health Network. His concern for the mental well-being of clergy led Shalem to create the Clergy Care Program, a counselling service designed specifically for pastors and their families.
This webinar happens at the same time Faith Today is running a national contest to send hard working pastors away on a short, restorative retreat.
I am really looking forward to our conversation with Wanda and Mark next Wednesday. As a clergy spouse I know well some of the struggles — and of course the multiple joys — of people in the ministry life. If even half of the statistics are true, we need to take better care of clergy, and clergy need to take better care of themselves. Join us!
Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Remember our contest.