Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The State of Our Canadian Clergy

March 13, 2007

The findings of a new study, Clergy Well-Being: Seeking
Wholeness with Integrity, have been released. The author of
the study is the Rev. Andrew R. Irvine, PhD., of the Centre
for Clergy Care & Congregational Health, established by the
United Church’s Emmanuel College and the Presbyterian
Church’s Knox College, for the purpose of supporting clergy
well-being and congregational health.

In conducting the research,
Dr. Irvine interviewed clergy from six major protestant
denominations in Ontario: United, Anglican, Presbyterian,
Evangelical Lutheran, Baptist Convention and Pentecostal
Assemblies. The entire study is available at

In his report, Dr. Irvine wrote, “As human beings we come
to the fullness of “self through the social relationships and our
interaction within community and the world. It is therefore
paramount that relationships and social activity be a central
part of our activity and development….Relationships for
clergy have always been a matter of great concern….Ministers
are surrounded by many people within the congregation and
community, but they are often defined by the strong definition
of office as opposed to by which they are as persons….
ministers are the one career group who could never
step outside of their professional definition and identity.”

Here are some of the study’s highlights:

 Nearly 49 % of clergy could claim having two or less friends; 18 % identified no one as a friend in their current
church or community. “Relationally, [ministers] felt unfilled and lonely,” Irvine noted. Reasons for lack of friends
included: busyness, confidentiality and the transitory nature of ministry.
 55 % indicated they sometimes feel very lonely.
 16 % have a spiritual director.
 70 % moderately or strongly disagreed with the statement: I feel fulfilled in ministry.
 67 % agreed to strongly agreed with the statement: I sometimes project my job frustration on the family.
 80 % agreed to strongly agreed with the statement: I feel guilty if people see me taking time off during the
 4 % have gone to denominational staff for support in a crisis.
 51 % indicated they have suffered physically from stress-induced problems.
 20 % have been diagnosed with emotional conditions, 16 % with depression – double Health Canada’s findings
that 8 % of Canadian adults experience major depression in their lives. Twice as many female clergy than male
clergy become depressed.
 50 % moderately to strongly disagreed with the statement: I am consistent between who I am and how I appear
to others.
 80 % of ministers admitted varying degrees of jealously toward the success of other ministers. This attributes to
a high level of competition amongst clergy. “Meaningful friendships cannot be established or maintained on a
foundation of mistrust and competition,” Irvine stated.
 77 % agreed to strongly agreed with the statement: I feel more like a CEO than a pastor.
 83 % agreed with the statement: My church wants a CEO rather than a pastor.
 91 % agreed with the statement: Being a ‘minister’ is more like a job than a calling.
 86 % agreed to strongly agreed with the statement: I pray with others but rarely have time for personal prayer.
 60 % have considered leaving ministry.
Together, we can change the conditions of ministry for the better.

God"s love is for all creation

God"s love is for all creation
God has many names