The Great Resignation
In 2022, the media began reporting on “The Great Resignation,” the massive clergy resignation that took place post pandemic. Studies emerged citing a variety of causes, the most significant being “immense stress,” “lonely and isolated,” “current political divisions,” and the effect ministry service has on family . Stories were heard of clergy resigning in the pulpit and in congregational meetings, of abandonment, early retirement, sever mental breaks, and even suicide.
The Status Quo
The Rise of Unmet Needs in America's Poor
The unmet needs of America's poverty-stricken and homeless are rising, and it is putting massive pressure on an already beleaguered social safety net that is beginning to crumble.
582,462 individuals are experiencing homelessness in America, an increase of about 2,000 people since the last complete census conducted in 2020.
About 30 percent of people without homes are experiencing chronic patterns of homelessness. Most states saw their homeless populations rise since 2019, including four where the tally more than doubled (Delaware, Vermont, Louisiana, Maine).
More than a quarter of those experiencing homelessness are families with (or and) children.
The COVID pandemic lockdown caused an increase in those who used food banks to feed themselves and their families. The problem is that the trend has not abated.
More than 53 million people turned to food banks, food pantries and meal programs for help in 2021, one-third more than prior to the pandemic.
Approximately one in five adults reported experiencing household food insecurity. High food price inflation, along with elevated costs for other basic needs, such as transportation and rent, have likely eroded food budgets in the last year.
More working people than ever are experiencing food insecurity. In June 2022, 17.3 percent of employed adults reported food insecurity versus 30.8 percent of those who reported they were not working.
Rising Needs and Fewer Resources Collide
When unmet needs increase as the resources with which to meet them decrease, something's gotta give. Unfortunately, in this case, it could be the very safety net itself, which has prevented utter disaster for decades.
What happens when the unhoused can't find an open shelter, or the hungry when all the food banks close? Will that cause an increase in crime? The U.S. Department of Justice believes that the typical incarcerated offender is undereducated, unemployed and living in poverty before they break the law. In fact, many career criminals grew up that way.
That's why this moment in time is so critical. Families with children are caught in poverty's trap, and now their rescuers -- those who prop up the safety net built by community religious organizations -- need rescuing. Hence, THE PARSONAGE PROJECT.
The Looming Crisis
Over the last few decades, organized religious entities have faced a wide array of hurdles to keep serving the least of us in meaningful ways. They include:
Since 2007, the number of religiously active Americans fell from 56 percent to 41 percent. In addition, unaffiliated Americans more than doubled from 16 percent to 33 percent.
According to Gallup, only 37% of Americans rate members of the clergy highly for their honesty and ethics, the lowest rating in the 40 years.
Fewer congregants, fewer donors and fewer clergy are combing with higher poverty rates, more homeless and increased child poverty to threaten the very existence of the social safety net the clergy has provided for centuries.
A March 2022 Barna study showed that 42 percent of U.S. pastors have given serious thought about resigning.
90% of clergy report working 55-75 hours a week with few breaks.
17 percent of American families have reduced the amount they give to their local church.