Clergy Stress survey - report on findings and initial response

Read the initial report and first responses to the issues raised by clergy in this survey.

Report findings and initial responses

Thank you to all clergy who completed the clergy stress questionnaire, 154 responses were received which is a response rate of 44%.

The analysis of the data is ongoing but so far the initial results show that clergy across the Diocese suffer from similar levels of stress to other professional groups. Almost 1 in 5 clergy say that they feel burned out in their ministry. Many Clergy are not taking their day off and some are not taking holidays. 40% of clergy say they do not have time for any interests or hobbies outside of their ministerial role. The pressure of meeting increasing demands and dealing with conflicting expectations do cause increased levels of anxiety and stress with over half of the respondents reporting that they neglect some tasks due to pressure of work. A third report that they put off tasks in the hope that they will “go away”

However, over 80% of clergy report that
    a. they still find ministry very satisfying and
    b. feel that they are contributing to God’s mission in their contexts and
    c. having a positive influence on the lives of those they have contact with.

Over 90% report having some control over when and how much they work and report high levels of support from within the parish, senior clergy and staff at St James House.

Clergy report a number of specific issues that contribute significantly to their stress. These include, increasing administration and workload especially leading multiple churches. Clergy are often dealing with competing demands made by parish, deanery and other local and national agendas. This often leads to different expectations of their role. Clergy also worry about paying the parish share and looking after church buildings within an environment where resources are increasingly tight.

Initial responses

From the particular issues identified, a number of practical responses are already being developed. These include:

•    A final report is being prepared for Bishop’s Core group. The purpose will be to examine ways to ensure that Diocesan structures and processes minimise any possible causes of stress. It will also examine ways that clergy can be supported to deal effectively with the issue of stress.

•    Helping with administration. There will be a series of training days for clergy and lay administrators to look at ways of dealing more effectively with the amount and variety of administrative tasks that are required.

•    Developing training and support to help clergy and lay members working in teams.

•    Staff at St James House are currently looking at ways that Clergy can be helped deal with the issue of conflict. This includes facilitating a number of training events as well as indentifying individuals who would be available to provide support to clergy and offer mediation in cases of conflict.

•    Both Archdeacons will be talking to Area Deans about the results of the survey with a view to looking at what training and support may be needed by their Deanery

The final report will be available by the end of April. This will be considered by Senior Clergy and the Staff at St James’s House in an effort to ensure that all possible steps are taken to help clergy deal with the causes of stress and its effects.

If you have any questions or comments please contact Bob Banton