July 31, 2024, is the deadline to apply for CFR’s Fall 2024 Postgraduate Certificate Program cohort in Marriage & Family Therapy and Clergy track. Apply here.

Help! I’m a Clergy Person and I’m Feeling Ill-Equipped to Handle the Emotional, Spiritual, and Mental Demands of Serving the Congregation in 2022

Can I hear an AMEN!    

If you have served as a priest, pastor, rabbi, or other member of the clergy in these past two years, you have been on a real learning curve, needing to figure out, probably mostly on your own, how to deal with issues surrounding the pandemic, racial equity, climate crisis, and political polarization. Along with all of this, there have probably been ongoing worries of shrinking worship attendance, diminishing financial resources combined with a smaller number of volunteers to do various jobs, and the unique systemic quirkiness of your place of ministry.

Truth be told, Ministry is difficult! Today, more than ever before, clergy are encountering disillusionment and burnout, and many are feeling a lack of support for their leadership in the congregation. Some clergy have left, and others are considering leaving their calling because of all the stress, anxiety, conflict, and uncertainty for the future.

What about you? Is it possible for you to stay in your place of ministry? What would make a difference for you?

What If:

  • You had a colleague group that had your back…Would that help?
  • You learned to think systemically (i.e., to see yourself and your congregation as a system with certain understandable properties and responses) and had a “view from the balcony” …Would you think differently about your ministry?
  • You began to understand yourself and your response to stress, and learned to better self-regulate and cultivate well-being…Would anything change?
  • You took time to think, breathe, and play…Would that be refreshing?
  • You made a commitment to work on yourself, and to learn to think and be intentional in your functioning as a leader…Would that increase your work satisfaction?

If you are thinking that one or any of these “what ifs” could make a difference in your work, you may want to consider enrolling in Council for Relationships’ (CFR) Congregational and Family Systems Academy Certificate Program.

The Congregational and Family Systems Academy provides a peer-learning and peer-mentoring experience where participants, led by a retired minister and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, share their experiences of life and ministry. The Clergy Seminar in the Academy program studies the application of various systemic models, used by family therapists, to understand the dynamics of a congregation and its leadership, as well as the person of the clergy. Students also compare these systemic theories with Bowen Theory, as well as with Edwin Freidman’s application of Bowen Theory.

Along with didactic review of the models, participants have ongoing weekly opportunities, as part of our Ministry Case Consultations, to present and discuss current challenging congregational situations, as well as participants’ own Family of Origin work. The theory, coaching, and peer-coaching experience of the seminar fosters re-examination and deepening of roles, functioning, and relationships through the process of differentiation.

If you are interested in learning more about the Clergy Programs at CFR, the Post Graduate Certificate Program Directors are hosting a Q&A on Thursday, March 17 from 12-1:30 PM ET and are happy to answer your questions.

You may learn more about Clergy Training Opportunities on our website or by reaching out to the Director of Clergy Training, Rev. Dr. Dee Littleton at dlittleton@councilforrelationships.org.

Dolores Littleton, DMin, LMFT is the Director of CFR’s Post Graduate Certificate Program, Clergy Track