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Thriving or struggling: Church study seeks solutions to pastoral issues


Sven Eriksson: Pastoral Trends Survey

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September 28, 2007
- Dan Dyck

WINNIPEG, Man. — It’s common to virtually all congregations and denominations: Some pastors thrive; others struggle to find meaning in their work, or in finding work/family/rest balance.

Mennonite Church Canada is poised to uncover at least some answers with a Pastoral Trends Survey set to be distributed this fall to its pastors, present and past.

Jointly sponsored by the Leadership Office of MC Canada and the Institute for Theology and the Church (of Canadian Mennonite University), the study will seek answers to questions like: What kind of educational tracks lead to excellence in pastoral candidates? What congregational conditions make for thriving pastors? What causes pastors to resign prematurely? How long are pastors staying in their congregations?

Designed to provide insight into trends in pastoral retention and attrition, the study’s designers also hope to collect key information that will help shape pastoral formation programs in Mennonite higher education. Responses will form the basis for Leadership Office programs aimed to recruit future pastors and cultivate pastors’ wellness and vitality.

Sven Eriksson, Denominational Minister for MC Canada, said, “The purpose of the study is to provide a big picture of what is happening with our pastors in our congregations, and to give us a better understanding of the experience and context of thriving pastors as well as pastors who are struggling.” Motivating this project is a commitment to improve support for pastors and congregations, he added.

In early November all pastors and former pastors of Mennonite Church Canada congregations will receive a Pastoral Trends Survey. Summary findings of the survey are expected to be available in the early spring of 2008.

“The value of this project will depend entirely on the strong participation of pastors, retired pastors and those pastors who have moved out of a Mennonite Church Canada pastorate,” said Eriksson. “I encourage all pastors, to plan to put aside time to carefully engage the survey when it arrives.”

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