Statewide survey indicates health levels of Texas pastors


Results from a statewide Pastor Health Survey conducted by the Texas Baptists Church Health Initiative of San Antonio provided valuable information on the health of pastors in Texas. Five hundred and sixty pastors affiliated with Texas Baptists participated in the confidential survey, a 13 percent response rate. The survey explored spiritual, physical, mental, financial, relational and work health. 

“This survey shows that being a pastor can be tough on your health,” said Ben Hanna, director of the Church Health Initiative. “When Jesus said ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,’ that included every part of our lives. So we want to minister to the whole minister, help them grow in all areas- wisdom, stature and favor with God and man. That’s stewarding our health and honoring our Father.”

Findings included:

  • The average pastor was 5’10½” and weighed 214 pounds. Only 14% qualified as having a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), while 46% were considered obese, including 6% who qualified as extremely obese. 
  • Young, white pastors were more likely than others to have considered looking for another job or leaving the ministry entirely.
  • 27% expressed the presence of critical financial issues
  • The average pastor estimated spending 4.1 hours per week (or 35 minutes per day) in personal prayer. Nearly three out of 10 pastors pray fewer than two hours per week. 
  • Twenty percent were experiencing at least one critical issue in the work-life category, defined as: 
    • Being highly dissatisfied with their overall work situation with their church, the quality of their relationships with other church staff, the quality of their relationships with lay leaders, and/or how much care/concern their lay leaders show toward their needs as a person 
    • Feeling not at all well trained for their ministry position
    • Working 80 or more hours per week in any combination of jobs 
    • Having no days off from church work in a typical week 

On July 23, at 2 p.m., Hanna and Elizabeth Coffee, San Antonio Regional specialist, will host “You Are Here: A webinar on the Statewide Pastor Health Survey.” The webinar will include an overview of the main findings of the study and allow pastors and church leaders to engage in discussion on positive ways to move forward. To register for the webinar, click here

In addition to offering the webinar, Hanna met with the Church Health Initiative Team to determine what key issues related to pastoral health could be addressed through current and future convention resources. The team is composed of Baptist institution representatives, local pastors, health experts and convention staff.

“The results from this survey will serve as a map that will guide our efforts to positively impact the health of our pastors,” said Hanna. “While we have a clearer picture of where we are, the next question is, ‘Where do we go from here?’ The Church Health Initiative is working to provide a clear path for holistic health.”

The Church Health Initiative Team identified four key areas and resources for pastors that will be developed in the coming months. These areas included physical, mental, financial and relational health. 

To address physical health issues, Bobby Contreras, pastor of Alamo Heights Baptist Church in San Antonio, has volunteered to write a weekly blog about pastors’ health. Dr. Jim Furgerson, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) and associate professor of Internal Medicine at TCU School of Medicine and attending cardiologist at Brooke Army Medical Center, will produce videos specifically targeting pastor health. Dr. Furgerson will also pilot a comprehensive health program in the San Antonio area that will shed light on the specific health needs and solutions for pastors statewide. The Church Health Initiative has also provided Teladoc Health services to 50 pastors in the San Antonio area. 

In the mental health field, Dr. Katie Swafford, director of Texas Baptists Counseling Services, will produce several videos to address burnout and chronic stress. Counseling Services are also available to ministers and their families through the Texas Baptists Counseling Services Network and STCH Ministries.

To equip and encourage pastors with financial resources, the Texas Baptists Center for Financial Health provides grants and financial training for ministers. Finally, to promote relational health, the Church Health Initiative will partner with Blake Coffee, founder of Christian Unity Ministries, to share “The 5 Principles of Unity” in an online format. 

The Church Health Initiative of San Antonio is made possible through a grant from the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio. It is strengthened by partnerships with organizations that provide resources to churches including the Baptist Credit Union, the San Antonio Baptist Association, Guidestone and STCH Ministries.

To read the full report, click here. To learn more about the Church Health Initiative, visit txb.org/chi

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