In early 2022 the US based Barna group released a study which found that in 2021 42% of Christian workers have considered leaving ministry early, up from 29% in 2020. Preliminary indications for 2022 show this trend continuing. If COVID was the pandemic that brought the world to its knees, then burnout and mental health is the same for Christian ministers. Indeed, many studies have found that those in helping professions—including ministers— are often worse than the general public at managing their own mental health and stress levels. This is only exacerbated by a perception that the church—and church workers—need to be self-sufficient and self-feeders for effective ministry.
While some church initiatives—such as spiritual direction, supervision and mentoring—have been introduced to address these challenges, many have only seen them as another imposition on already busy ministries.
This issue is firmly focused on encouraging Christians to consider their own mental health as we engage in ministry.
The lead articles come from less traditional ministry environments. The first from an interview with English Pioneer minister Adam Gompertz about his ministry engagement and mental health strategies.
The second from Queensland Uniting Church minister Ralph Mayhew about his life-giving photography and Youtube pursuits.
Spiritual director Fiona Preston, and pastoral supervisor, Joel Kettleton have brought their disciplines to bear on burnout, to give some insight into support that is on offer. While Samuel Crane reflects on the benefits of peer mentoring—which returns in a book review. Finally, Fergus King reflects on John 3 as he has walked with traumatised ministers.
The book reviews all focus on mental health, and sustenance in ministry. I pray you will find this issue edifying
CHRIS PORTER, EDITOR