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Church leaders face 'significant strain' on marriages

by Antony Bushfield

The report, based on the responses of 200 vicars, pastors, ministers and leaders from across the UK, found 65% had problems in their relationship caused by the job.

Oasis UK, which carried out the research, said it exposed the enormous pressures faced by church leaders, the extent to which they are overworked, and how many are regularly subjected to verbal abuse from members of their congregation.

According to the research, 71% of church leaders find their role either 'quite stressful' or 'very stressful'.

Sixty-four percent feel incredibly pushed for time and struggle to get everything done, a figure that rises to 73% amongst female respondents.

Church leaders also fear that their congregations are almost oblivious to their struggles, with 43% reporting that their church members have little or no understanding of the pressures they are under.

But despite the stress and pressures, 52% described their ministry as 'very rewarding' with a further 34% thinking it 'quite rewarding.'

Church leaders estimate that on average 62% of the feedback they receive from the congregation is positive and encouraging, compared to just 38% that is negative or critical.

When asked about church members being rude, aggressive or passive aggressive to them, 76% reported that this was a regular occurrence, with church members shouting at them once a week on average.

Some church leaders however said that they were shouted at or spoken to aggressively as many as 30 times a month, with one respondent reporting that it happened 'on a daily basis.'

Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis and leader of Oasis Church Waterloo said: "Having been involved in church leadership for 35 years I know first-hand how stressful it can be.

"Leading a church is one of the toughest jobs around, but in a cruel twist of irony it's also one that carries with it little support, personal input or training. Often feeling alone isn't just a paranoid perception - it's a bleak reality.

"To really sustain ourselves, and to lead others on their spiritual journey, we church leaders need to constantly ask ourselves two vital questions - 'who am I?' and 'who am I becoming?'

"But in the business of trying to deal with the constant pressures of ministry as well as the pastoral load of walking alongside others, finding time for this reflection can be almost impossible.

"That's why I'm hosting 'Steve Chalke on Leadership' on 30th October. A chance for all of us to come together and be re-inspired."

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