How to Prevent Pastor Burnout

Picture of Charlie Cutler

Charlie Cutler

President of ChurchWest Insurance Services


Pastoral burnout is a pervasive issue in the church today. The demands placed on pastors can be overwhelming, from preaching and counseling to managing staff and leading the congregation. As church leaders, it’s important to manage the risk of burnout as well as the broader risks facing your ministry. In this article, we’ll discuss the root causes of burnout and offer practical solutions to help care for your pastor and increase the effectiveness of your ministry.

Additional Resources

Why do Pastors Burn Out?

While it may seem obvious why pastors burn out given the extraordinary demands of ministry, there is substantial research on this topic by many researchers.

First, the actual job functions of pastoral leadership are incredibly varied when compared to other careers. Research by Dr. Richard Deshon of Michigan State University identified 13 “task clusters” for local church pastors, including administration, caregiving, facility management and construction, preaching and public worship, evangelism, and communication.

To perform each of these duties effectively, an individual would require 64 different personal competencies. Deshon’s clear conclusion was “it is almost inconceivable to imagine that a single person could be uniformly high on the sixty-four distinct knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics.” Clearly, ministry can not be done alone.

Then we must also consider the external factors in recent years that have impacted ministry. Research from the Barna Group determined that between January 2021 and March 2022, the number of Pastors who had considered leaving ministry had risen from 29% to an alarming 71%.

Source: Barna Group

Barna’s research shows the most common reason for pastors considering leaving ministry includes the incredible stress of the job, isolation and unhealthy political divisions.

Ministry has always been a difficult career path, but recent national turmoil and social isolation has made it even more challenging. Today, your ministry’s board must consider the preservation of your pastor just as important as any other risk impacting your organization.

Preventing Pastor Burnout

Preventing burnout requires a proactive approach, and church leaders can take several steps to care for their pastors.

Delegate to Volunteers and Employees

Building and empowering your team is perhaps the most important step in alleviating the workload on your pastor. This can include delegating tasks like managing events, lay counseling, or overseeing small groups. By building a team of volunteers, pastors can focus on their core responsibilities and avoid being spread too thin.

Outsource When Possible

Our nation’s ministries are blessed to benefit from a church serving market that has rapidly developed and matured in recent decades. You’d probably be surprised at the number of administrative functions that can be outsourced. 

We don’t get paid by any of these companies to promote their services. We include them on our website because we truly believe in their services and the value they can provide you.

Human Resources Support: If you can avoid re-building the wheel, you should consider it. Companies like ChurchHRNetwork can help your ministry with pre-built templates and governing documents to streamline the management of your team.

Payroll Support: Like your HR, you can outsource much of your payroll needs to a specialized vendor like MinistryWorks from Brotherhood Mutual. Not only can you save time with MinistryWorks, but by avoiding mistakes and penalties you can make sure nothing comes back to haunt you later.


Managing pastoral burnout is a crucial aspect of ministry risk management. Pastors face a significant amount of pressure and responsibility, which can lead to burnout if not addressed properly. By understanding the root causes of burnout, we can take proactive steps to help care for our pastors and prevent burnout. Empowering your team, outsourcing when possible, and seeking professional support can help your church serve your pastor as your pastor serves the church.

Charlie Cutler

Charlie Cutler is the President of ChurchWest Insurance Services, a California-based agency that specializes in providing insurance solutions to churches and related ministries. Charlie has been with ChurchWest for over 20 years and has extensive experience in the insurance industry, with a particular focus on the unique risks and challenges facing Christian organizations. Charlie is a sought-after speaker and has presented at numerous conferences and seminars on insurance and risk management topics.

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