U.S. Protestant pastors wish they had more preparation in handing conflict, according to a Barna Group report published April 19.

Respondents were asked, “Of the following, if any, which are areas of ministry that you wish you had been better prepared for?” A plurality (40%) said handling conflict, the same amount as in 2020.

“The importance of delegation and training people” was the second most common response at 37% (down four points from 2020), with “balancing ministry and administration” (35%; down three points), “administrative burden” (33%; up one point) and “church politics” (29%; down seven points) rounding out the top five areas of challenges.

A majority (60%) of respondents said “preaching and teaching” was the area of ministry they enjoyed most, followed by “discipling believers” (8%), “practical pastoral care, such as visiting the sick or elderly” (7%), “developing leaders” (7%), “emotional or spiritual pastoral care, such as counseling” (6%), “organizing church events, meetings or ministries” (4%) and “evangelizing or sharing the gospel” (3%).

“Younger pastors more often than their older colleagues wish they had better preparation to handle issues like conflict (47% of pastors under 45 vs. 37% of pastors 45+), crisis management (32% vs. 15%) and leadership demands (29% vs. 17%),” the report said. “In short, the next generation of pastors says they feel unprepared for some of the biggest challenges facing the modern church.”

The full report is available here.

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