Burnout & Breakdown: Barna's Risk Metric for Pastors


In Barna’s most recent research on The State of Pastors, a comprehensive, whole-life assessment of U.S. pastors, commissioned by Pepperdine University, we examine how many pastors are at risk of burnout, relational breakdown or spiritual problems. While most pastors are doing just fine, no leader is immune to problems.

To understand the challenges to pastors’ well-being, researchers posed a series of questions to assess the risk of burnout, relational difficulties and spiritual setbacks. Questions included pastors’ self-assessment*of their emotional and mental health; their satisfaction with their vocation and confidence in their ability to minister effectively; the strength of their family and friend relationships; and how they feel about the spiritual dimension of their lives. Researchers then used pastors’ self-assessments to formulate risk metrics for burnout, relationship problems and spiritual issues. The items for each metric are shown below. Numerical values were assigned to all possible answers and, when responses were tallied, researchers found most pastors are doing well, ranking low on two of the three metrics. This under-scores one of the major findings of Barna’s The State of Pastors: Contrary to conventional wisdom, most pastors are faring well.

Burnout risk is assessed using 11 factors from The State of Pastors research (see below for a list). A pastor is low risk if they do not meet any of the factors; medium risk if they meet criteria for one of the factors; and high risk if they meet three or more of the factors.

Relationship risk is assessed using seven factors from the study (see below). A pastor is considered low risk if they do not meet any of the factors; medium risk if they meet one or two factors; and high risk if they meet three or more factors.

Spiritual risk is assessed using four factors from the study (see below). A pastor is considered low risk if they do not meet criteria for any of the factors; medium risk if they meet one to two factors; and high risk if they meet three or more factors.

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Stay tuned for more findings from our State of Pastors study, and check out the State of Pastors event.

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