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More Than Half of Pastors Started Their Careers Outside the Church | Facts & Trends


Ian Schneider photo | Unsplash

Most pastors start off in a different job before transitioning to the ministry, according to research released by Barna.

Despite most saying they felt a call to ministry as a teenager or young adult, 55 percent of pastors say they had another career before starting work in the church.

Even now, 26 percent of pastors say they are bivocational—holding another role (paid or unpaid) in addition to the ministry.

For more on bivocational ministry, read our cover story “Second Shift: Thriving in Bivocational Ministry.”

Those pastors most often say they aren’t doing the extra job for money. They’re looking for personal fulfillment or having an outlet for their gifts.

Around one third of pastors (36 percent) admit to occasionally wishing they had a different calling to something outside the ministry.

Still 72 percent feels content in their pastoral role and the vast majority are very satisfied with the opportunity to use their spiritual gifts (81 percent) or talents (77 percent) as a pastor.

That is no surprise given that LifeWay Research found only 1 percent of pastors leave the ministry each year.

Close to two-thirds of pastors (64 percent) say they may pursue additional education related to ministry, including 33 percent who are already doing so.

As pastors work through their own calling and vocation, many are preaching and teaching on the subject to their congregations.

Almost 8 in 10 pastors (79 percent) say they’ve preached on the topic of vocation in the past couple of years and half (49 percent) say they’ve covered the topic five or more times in the last two years.

Attendees seem to be getting the message. More than 4 in 10 (42 percent) of Christian workers say they’ve heard a message about work at their church in the last month.

Some pastors aren’t content to leave the topic at the pulpit, but few say they are providing career development programs for singles or college students. One in 5 pastors say their church has a mentorship program.

However, most pastors say they are personally mentoring someone currently. Three in 4 (74 percent) say they have a mentee in the ministry and 68 percent say they have one in another industry.

AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.

Dig Deeper at LifeWay.com


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