A recent poll on over 1,500 pastors from evangelical and historically black Protestant churches revealed that up to 32% have left the ministry because of a "change of calling." About 18% of church leaders claimed a conflict in their church was the primary reason for their departure, while 13% cited burnout. The survey was conducted between August and September this year.

The survey was conducted by Lifeway Research and sponsored by Houston's First Baptist Church and Richard Dockins. Other issues cited by spiritual leaders for leaving the profession was "a poor fit with their church, family issues, moral or ethical issues, illness, personal finances or just lack of preparation for the job."

The poll on church leaders showed that while the majority of pastors have remained in the ministry no matter how challenging the COVID pandemic was for them, it also reflected how a number of pastors felt overworked and concerned about the impact of their calling on their families.

In fact, up to 63% or two-thirds of respondents felt that the role was frequently overwhelming, while up to 71% said they were on call 24 hours a day. Half of respondents said that the job of being a pastor was "greater than they can handle."

Meanwhile, significant minorities admitted to feeling isolated and challenged by unrealistic expectations by their congregation, the Christian Post reported. About one-fifth of all pastors in the survey said they were "being frequently irritated by church members."

"The impact of the pandemic may be most noticeable in pastors' increased agreement that the role of being a pastor is frequently overwhelming, which jumped from 54% in 2015 to 63% today," Lifeway Research executive director Scott McConnell explained in a statement, alluding to a similar study conducted in 2015. But the survey also showed some significant changes in the way pastors view their jobs.

"Fewer pastors agree they must be 'on call' 24 hours a day, declining from 84% to 71%," McConnell explained. "Perhaps even more telling, the majority of pastors (51%) strongly agreed with this expectation in 2015, while only a third (34%) strongly feel this obligation today."

Among the 1,576 church leaders surveyed, 19% admitted to moving to a different congregation when faced with a professional challenge at a church. Up to 47% of the pastors who did so felt they "took the church as far as they could," while 33% said "their family needed a change."

Meanwhile, 69% admitted that they have dealt with some kind of conflict in their church, even if it was not the main reason for them leaving. About 39% reported experiencing a personal attack, while a similar numbers said they faced conflict over their proposed changes for their respective churches. Reasons for disagreements include issues on leadership style, doctrinal differences, and politics.

McConnell concluded that because a church is composed of a group of different people, it's only natural that not everybody would get along. However, it is of utmost importance that the "church maintains unity and love for each other as they navigate those differences."