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Resilient Church Leadership


Recognizing that church leaders are facing challenges on many fronts, the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center (WCBGC) launched the Resilient Church Leadership initiative to resource, inspire, and connect pastors dealing with both internal pressures like burnout and mental stability and external pressures such as cultivating their church online, caring for their congregations, and ministering well in a time of crisis.

The initiative is a partnership of the WCBGC, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Christian Foundation-South Florida, and the Church United initiative.

Why Now?

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Lifeway Research revealed that 23 percent of pastors acknowledge they have personally struggled with a mental illness and 49 say they rarely or never speak to their congregation about mental illness. Another Lifeway Research study of pastors concluded that 84 percent say they’re on call 24 hours a day and 54 percent find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming. Combined with the 2020 COVID-19 crisis and the massive logistical, relational, and financial pressures our churches are facing, its leaders are facing significant challenges. Our churches are key to providing hope for those without hope, and the necessity of having healthy pastors is more critical than ever in this regard.

“All of our church leaders want to be healthy for their congregations,” said Dr. Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. “But we simply can’t fake it, especially now. Church leaders often don’t know where to turn when they are overwhelmed and facing burnout and mental health concerns. We need to help them to take those first steps that will lead to long-term, healthy ministry.”

“The adrenaline will wear off as church leaders rise to the challenge of doing ministry in a ‘new normal’—whatever that will even be,” said Jimmy Dodd, CEO/Founder of PastorServe, a partner in this project. “Leader burnout and even depression and other mental issues are on the table.”

Mindy Caliguire, Director of Personal Growth at Gloo and President/Co-founder of Soul Care, encourages pastors to not neglect their own spiritual health even though workloads grow. “We need to make sure we embrace experiential spiritual practices like meditating on Scripture. Even well-known passages, like Psalm 23, can minister to us in new ways as verses take on new meaning for this time of crisis.”

The Resilient Church Leadership initiative provides both information and experiences through multi-media resources for church leaders to understand their own spiritual health and to find ways to cope with the anxiety and stress that accompany times of crisis.