The data from the “Pulpit and Pew” research project at Duke Divinity School is good news to church leaders who are struggling to recruit talented young people as pastors.
“We were surprised that so many clergy were satisfied with their career choice, and so few doubted their call,” said Jackson Carroll, director of the project.
The four-year project on pastoral leadership involves 20 areas of study, 30 researchers and a $3.5 million budget. It covers Protestant, Catholic and other clergy and will look at such topics as salaries, recruitment, firings, media portrayal and leadership.
The findings come from in-depth interviews with 900 clergy and 2,500 other responses to mailed questionnaires. Today, roughly 350,000 active clergy work in a nation with 325,000 congregations. The survey was completed by December.
The survey confirmed that the clergy population is aging as more recruits enter as a second career. Those in ministry less than a decade on average were ordained in their late 30s. Clergy working at least 30 years were ordained in their mid-20s.