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Church Leaders At Risk As COVID Takes A Toll On Pastors As Well As Parishioners

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The pandemic has taken its toll physically and emotionally. People that many Americans turn to, church leaders and pastors, are also feeling the stress of the uncertain times.

A recent nationwide poll from Barna Group is raising a warning about the wellbeing of church leaders. The study found a growing number are on the brink of burnout and have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year.

"I think a lot of pastors are doing some soul searching because they may, or may not, be comfortable doing church online. They may, or may not, be comfortable with the sets of challenging questions that they're being asked. All the pressure points. They're in a pressure cooker now in ways they didn't anticipate," explained David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group.

The pandemic happened at a time when church leaders were already wrestling with social issues including the death of George Floyd.

And then COVID limited who can visit the sick in the hospital. That left spiritual leaders, many times, on the outside looking in.

"I think the pandemic has heightened suffering, heightened isolation, heightened loneliness not only in people but also pastors," said Dr. Bejamin Skaug, dean of Texas Baptist College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

The burnout issue is something that's being addressed with students wanting to get into ministry work.

"We're trying to train pastors in new techniques, new ways and new manners in which they can carry out faithful ministry in Christ," explained Skaug.

Whether it's through acts of service like a food drive at a church, researchers found that people in North Texas are paying attention.

"And by in large, people in DFW have a very positive impression of the church. They have a very positive impression of the way churches have shown up in the lsat year," said Kinnaman.

Dr. Skaug added, "This is a new day, a new era for ministers in which they're called to go about their task of glorifying God, glorifying Christ."

Both men agree that the simple thing church members and the community can do is to send an encouraging email or text to church leaders. Simply let them know they are cared for and valued. It's a simple act that isn't limited to just churches.

Click here to read more about the Barna Group survey.

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