Living Ministry 1

The Living Ministry Report in full can be found here. Below are the findings.

Findings of the Living Ministry Research into Clergy Wellbeing

Wellbeing indicators

Overall in each domain, amongst the majority of respondents levels of reported wellbeing are positive. Analyses by sociodemographic and ministerial characteristics reveal the following relative differences:

  • Ordinands report lower levels of financial wellbeing than ordained ministers, while higher levels of financial wellbeing are associated with ministers who are older, part-time, self supporting and assistant/associate ministers.
  • Those without any income beyond that which they receive for their ministry are far more likely to struggle financially. Retirement provision is a major concern.
  • Living accommodation tied to one’s post or training is reported as less adequate and more stressful than non-tied accommodation, and nearly two thirds of ordained ministers and over one third of ordinands live in tied accommodation.
  • Older respondents reported relatively lower levels of physical health but higher levels of mental wellbeing.
  • Relatively lower levels of mental wellbeing were associated with residential training, stipendiary ministry, incumbency and full-time ministerial roles, although these categories closely overlap and causality was not established.
  • Older respondents and women reported relatively higher quality relationships and lower levels of isolation, while single people reported higher levels of isolation than married people.
  • Family and friends were seen as the sources of support most beneficial to flourishing in ministry. However, there were also indications of obstacles to developing and maintaining these relationships, including a lack of temporal, spatial and relational work boundaries.
  • Relationships with diocesan senior staff were generally reported as relatively low in quality (along with levels of diocesan pastoral support) but higher than relationships with employers.
  • Higher levels of autonomy and (mainly diocesan) support and development were most strongly associated with incumbents and those in full-time ministerial roles.
  • Older ministers tended to report greater vocational clarity and fulfilment. Barriers to vocational fulfilment included expectations or demands of others (particularly where gifts and skills were not recognised or utilised), an overload of day-to-day ministry tasks and churchmanship differences between the ordained minister and their context of ministry.
  • The sources of continuing ministerial development most highly rated as beneficial were not those with the highest rates of participation.

Concluding comments

Wellbeing differences between respondents trained residentially and those trained non-residentially were evident, although the close relationship between mode of training and other variables such as role and remuneration means that any effects may be explained by other factors. In addition, and yet to be explored, are the interconnections between the wellbeing domains. The findings from this initial survey will be explored in more depth through further waves of the quantitative and qualitative Living Ministry research.

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