38% of Protestant pastors contemplating leaving the ministry

by Seth Udinski
38% of evangelical pastors contemplating leaving the ministry

Seth Udinski, FISM News


It is no secret that pastoral ministry is a weighty and difficult calling. Sadly, a growing number of pastors are seriously contemplating leaving the office of pastor.

A study from Barna released on Tuesday researched over 500 American Protestant pastors. The study found that a record 38% of Protestant pastors answered yes to the following question: “Have you given real, serious consideration to quitting being in full-time ministry within the last year?” This record number is a spike from earlier in the year. In January, only 29% of pastors said they considered quitting the pastorate.

An even larger number came from mainline pastors, in which many denominations have battled over various arguments pertaining to theological liberalism. 51% of mainline Protestant ministers said they have seriously considered leaving the pastorate in the last year.

Joe Jensen, V.P of church engagement at Barna, spoke of the need for alarm with this number. He highlighted the effect of the pandemic and growing pressure on pastors in politically stormy culture as a possible reasons for why many men are burnt out.

This particular stat, this is the highest we’ve ever seen it…which is why as a company, quite frankly, we are alarmed … and we are concerned about the overall well-being of pastors. We’re concerned with how this is impacting the overall health of the Church. I really believe that [at] the heart of every healthy church is a healthy pastor. So this is definitely, almost four out of 10 pastors in America seriously considering quitting full-time ministry in the last year … cause for concern.

This poll affirms the important need for Christians to support and pray for their local pastors, men who have chosen a calling that usually does not pay well and brings with it the heavy weight of shepherding sinners to repentance.