Pastors' Families

David Sedlacek (Discipleship & Religious Education), Duane McBride (Behavioral Science), and Wendy Thompson (Social Work)

Seminary Training, Role Demands, Family Stressors and Strategies for Alleviation of Stressors in Pastors' Families

Research suggests that clergy families experience a high level of stress because of congregant expectations about family members’ behavior, the fact that clergy families live their lives under public scrutiny, and experience frequent moves disrupting friendships and social relationships. Also, clergy often report that their daily professional experiences are not strongly related to their training. Research suggests that these stressors can lead to family conflict, high rates of adolescent problem behavior (delinquency and substance use), and result in highly dedicated, effective clergy leaving their positions.  It is the purpose of this study to conduct a survey of North American Division pastors, spouses and adult children to examine the relationship between training and role performance, the extent and source of stressors, the personal and family consequences of stress, and the coping mechanisms that the families use to manage these stressors. Data will be analyzed focusing on any disconnect between training and role experiences, the type and extent of stressors experienced, and the distribution of consequences as well as coping mechanisms. Based on the survey results we will conduct focus group qualitative interviews to elaborate and further understand the survey data. Based on the quantitative and qualitative data analysis we will work with Family Ministries and Ministerial Departments of the North American Division and General Conference to develop training programs (in curriculum recommendations to professional training seminars) to better connect training and actual role performance and alleviate family stressors in order to reduce family consequences and retain clergy as highly productive professionals.

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