Majority of Pastors Had Previous Career, Survey Shows

Barna Research recently released a major study on vocation, Christians at Work, produced in partnership with Abilene Christian University. Results revealed interesting facts about how content pastors feel with their vocational path.

Most pastors first felt a calling to ministry in their teen or early adult years, but that doesn’t mean they took a fast track to the clergy. More than half (55 percent) had another career before going into ministry. Roughly one-quarter of pastors (26 percent) remain bivocational, currently holding some other kind of (paid or unpaid) role in addition to pastoring, usually for nonfinancial motivations like personal fulfillment or having other outlets for their gifts.

Though over one-third of pastors (36 percent) admit occasionally wishing for another calling, responses suggest that ministry suits these leaders well. A majority of pastors feel content (72 percent) and are very satisfied with their opportunity to use their spiritual gifts (81 percent) or talents (77percent) as a pastor. Sixty-two percent are very confident in the preparation they are receiving for their future. They also think their educational background—including seminary, for three-quarters of pastors (76 percent)—is a good fit for their role (78 percent). Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) see at least a possibility of pursuing additional education, including one-third of pastors (33 percent) who are already doing so.

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