BOISE, Idaho — Every day, we hear stories about people in different industries quitting their jobs because of the pandemic. From restaurants to hospitals, it seems no field is immune, even churches.
Research and resource organization, The Barna Group, conducted a poll and found 38% of pastors in the United States have thought about quitting full-time ministry in the past year.
On Wednesday, a Boise pastor shared his first-hand experience about what navigating this pandemic has been like.
“Our world changed right in the midst of the pandemic,” said Pastor Duane Anders with Boise's First United Methodist Church, also known as the Cathedral of the Rockies. “The ability to be with people in times of crisis, the ability to be present with people or pray, or lead them to worship, the ability to experience the presence of people, was gone.”
Anders has been a pastor for more than 30 years. He says it felt like it was overnight, when pastors like himself had to learn how to preach to a camera and do it without the returns they were used to getting.
“No amens, no great sermon pastor, just preaching to a silent camera was a whole new world,” Anders said.
Those changes, along with a lack of connections and mixed with layers of the already existing crisis of extreme politics, race issues and budget issues are just some of the reasons why some pastors are now quitting or considering quitting full-time ministry.
“The weariness of the pandemic, the weariness of politics that are extreme on both ends, the weariness of opening and closing and shutting down and wearing a mask and not wearing a mask and vaccinations and not, all of that is just weariness and it's exhausting is the word I’d used,” Anders told KTVB.
Nearly two-in-five pastors have considered quitting full-time ministry, according to the Barna Group. Which they say is up 9% from the previous year.
“If you dig in it deeper and that study, you'll find in mainline churches which is Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, the percentage was 51% of clergy’s saying they were strongly considering leaving the ministry,” Anders said.
While Anders told KTVB, he loves what he does, he understands how others are feeling.
“In this time of the pandemic, I don't know any pastor that hasn't said 'do I have enough money to retire, what else could I do?’ We've all considered is there another option and it's mainly because of exhaustion and it's because we're not getting those connections that we're used to that feed our soul,” Anders said.
He stresses it's important for all of us to take care of ourselves and each other.
“I say these four things at the end of every sermon, remember you matter to god, that no crisis will last forever, there's always hope, and others can help just ask,” Anders said.
He also mentioned, there is some good that came from the pandemic. While his bible studies used to be limited to folks in the area, now that it's online, people from different states can join in, so there's a gift, but there's also still a hunger for connection.
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