Statistics About Pastors

This list of statistics about pastors and stress was brought to my attention by an Evangelical pastor. While some of them such as issues with feeling lonely or having conflict with a parishioner could apply equally to Catholic and Protestant pastors, I was a bit alarmed at the statistics regarding pastors’ marital issues, family life and effects on kids.

On the one hand, it would seem that if Catholic priests were permitted to marry, they would incur all the same stressors regarding marriage and kids as their Protestant colleagues. On the other hand, I always cast a jaundiced eye towards statistics, and the pastor who brought up this list is, by his own admission, dealing with parishioner conflicts and significant marital problems of his own, so he may be biased in favor of these statistics.

Would be interested to hear what non-Catholic Christians think of the statistics.


When it comes to family life I think there is a whole whack load of occupations that would present similar statistics.


Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. So, saw this and it was eye popping:

45% of pastors spend 10-15 hours a week on sermon preparation

So many people complain about dry toast homilies in the RCC…and say the sermons are much better in the protestant Churches. Welp, there’s the reason why. That is a ton of time to prepare for something, so yeah, the finished product better be very good.

The center of our worship is Jesus in the Eucharist, not a 45 minute sermon.


But you can spin statistics any way you want. 45% is less than half and in my experience only half are good speakers so maybe this group that spends this much time is the poor half that don’t know how to deliver well. :roll_eyes:

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Not sure if your last sentence was meant to be a dig or not but I will rebuttal with the time framework of my church on Sunday morning. 6 0 minutes total, the first 15 to 20 with singing and prayer, 10 to 15 minutes with opportunity to share praise and prayer requests, announcements and offeratory, 25 to 30 minutes for sermon. The center of our worship is Jesus in all activity.


Not sure what gives you the idea it was a “dig”.

Catholics and some Protestants who are considering converting regularly complain about the homilies. They say they aren’t interesting enough, and when they are, they just aren’t long enough.

But since the beginning, it’s been word and sacrament, not just word.

Acts 2:42 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.


Luke 24:27-30 New International Version (NIV)

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.

Our experiences have been different, obviously. Probably 75% of the protestant pastors i have seen were pretty good speakers. And the sermons in the last non-denom Church i was in were 40-45 minutes long.

And that particular pastor flat out admitted he spent, at times, 30 hours per week preparing a sermon.

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Just a comment out of interest: I find it interesting that Americans call priests their ‘pastor’. I know they wouldn’t say “my priest Pr. John Smith” but they would say “my pastor Fr John Smith”.

Is this a Protestant influence?

I felt like I was reading one of the many similar lists about of my own profession. Maybe all public sector professions should have vows of celibacy? :wink:


I have heard many protestant churches close and many protestant ministers
quit. There are so many protestant churches out there and they all need to fill their pews and have salaries and bills to pay.
Even the mainline protestant churches have trouble filling their pews.

There seems to be a high rate of burn out and the protestant ministers have to keep coming up with new ways to keep the people coming back.

In all activity except for the real presence of the Eucharist. No insult intended.

Reformed pastor here. And yes, I find these statistics unsurprising. I’d add also that in my own church (meaning overarching institution, not parish) there is an alarming divorce rate among pastors due to stress from ministry.

I’m married, and happily married, but no week goes by without me thinking at least once that celibacy for clergy actually was a good idea. And we don’t even have children. To be honest, I do sometimes resent the church too, for example when our only free evening in common in the week is suddenly taken over by one of us having to schedule a meeting or having to visit a family for funeral preparations (we are both pastors). But I’m also sure we’re not the only profession with that kind of problems.

The glass house effect certainly is real (just yesterday one of my husband’s parishioners commented on my MIL, who currently lives with us, taking out the garbage on a Sunday morning), and I don’t know when was the last time I prayed with my husband outside from a (rare) shared Sunday office.

My church does, however, have procedures in place for crisis times. The fact that we are not congregational and our positions do not depend on our relationship with the parishioners does also help.

And in troubled times, I turn to the Catholic priest to talk :wink:

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I’m not a fan of how this site works. They should have cited each and every single one of the statistic in the list and provided an endnote refereces list. I don’t doubt some of the statistics. I think I’ve seen a number of them in Christianity Today. I don’t doubt many pastors face challenges. I know of one prominent Evangelical pastor whose son left the faith.
And George Barna isn’t a favourite of mine because a number of sociologists spotted some carelessness in their polling.
I find part of the problem is some pastors think they’re in competition with each other.

66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.

Would we expect anything else of a minister? Family: it depends.


So before I converted to become a Catholic, I saw what happened to pastors. Yes, it is a terrible job if you have a family. They also don’t get paid well. The posted article describes the situation well.

However, there is another side to this story that at least the article briefly touches upon, and should really have discussed more.

From the article near the bottom…

This was also my experience. There were a number of ministers, and nobody wanted to be pastor for the reasons the article mentioned. Some of the ministers had other jobs, and there was no significant pay incentive to be pastor.

I’m not sure how well this article relates to whether or not Catholic priests should marry. The proposals on the table are to take older married men as Catholic priests…not young men who are starting a family and struggling with money and life in general. Nobody is proposing to immediately put married priests in to major positions like a pastor at a major parish.

So what do Catholic’s call their pastor in other English-speaking countries outside of the United States?

In the U.S., they’re usually referred simply as Fr. John or Fr. Jones in most context but if the context is in regards to the head of the parish, then he is usually referred to as pastor Fr. John or pastor Fr. Jones.


The Catholic use of the word “Pastor” for the priest in charge of the parish is straight out of the Code of Canon Law, which says “The parish priest is the proper pastor of the church entrusted to him. He exercises the pastoral care of the community…” (Can. 519) So no, I don’t think it’s a Protestant influence, it’s just the appropriate word from canon law for the guy who pastorally cares for the community.

Prior to 1983, it’s my understanding that the assistant priests who helped the pastor were called “associate pastor” in the code of Canon Law. Some parishes still use the word “Associate Pastor” or “Associate” for these priests, others use the term “Parochial Vicar” which I understand is the later term from canon law, and still others use the term “Assistant” which is also in canon law.

Where Catholics differ is the use of the word “Pastor” for a title. A Protestant might call his pastor “Pastor Jones” or “Pastor Steve” whereas the Catholic would never say that, but instead would call their priest “My pastor Fr. Jones”, or “Father Steve, the pastor of St. X”.

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My guess is that in some other English-speaking Catholic countries they might call a priest who is the pastor of a parish the “parish priest” (which is also in the current canon law) or the “rector” or the “vicar”.

Yes, but many of those professions would be ranked higher in prestige than “pastor”, according to this list, which notes that in terms of prestige, “pastor” is near the bottom of the list and just ahead of “car salesman”. I’m guessing professions like “doctor” or “lawyer” would also be stressful on families because of the demanding nature of those jobs, but in the USA, the profession of doctor or lawyer is considered much more prestigious and generally also much better paid than “pastor”.

I am not sure how one would avoid this. We have a priest shortage and these days you often see priests with just a few years of priestly experience being given their own parish. I don’t see how married priests would be exempt from also being expected to take on a parish after five years or so of learning the ropes. And regarding the idea of “older married men”, a lot of Catholic couples are raising children right into their 40s, especially if they have a big family or didn’t marry until their early 30s, so it’s not like you’re going to have only empty nesters as priests unless you only take married men who are over 50, which I don’t think would be the plan.

Not sure how one would define “major parish” because your typical Catholic parish in my experience in USA is going to have at least a couple hundred members at minimum, and often more than that. When it gets below a couple hundred members, the parish tends to get closed or merged. I understand that many Protestant churches of the type included in the survey would have around 100-200 members, so one would expect a similar stress level.

Too funny! :joy::joy::joy::joy::joy:


That might be true in some geographical areas more than in others. In my experience in the mid-central part of the US, we only say “pastor” to differentiate the priest who is pastor when we have more than one priest.

I might say, “Our priest has such a keen sense of humor,” or “Fr Ward is such a holy man,” if talking in a casual group.

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