Christian Wellness: Introduction


INTRODUCTION

The Clergy Shortage Study released by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1999 raised concerns about the large numbers of LCMS clergy who are suffering from burnout.  The study also linked the high incidence of burnout to the shortage of pastors that the LCMS is facing by indicating that pastors who are burnt-out often leave the ministry before retirement age, and while pastoring do not model a lifestyle that young men would like to emulate.

But what is the situation in Lutheran Church-Canada and what can be done to help pastors?  While considering this question, the corresponding topic of wellness needs to be raised.  There is much interest in wellness these days, but much of it is from a secular perspective and is driven by goals that sub-Christian.  Could there be an understanding of wellness from a Confessional Lutheran perspective and could such an understanding be helpful in countering burnout among the pastors of Lutheran Church-Canada?

Research indicates that wellness offers an approach with the potential to be helpful.  Results from a research survey conducted among the active pastors of the Lutheran Church-Canada indicate that there is also a high incidence of burnout among Lutheran Church-Canada pastors.  Furthermore, the results show that there is a very significant inverse relationship between wellness and burnout:  the higher the level of wellness a pastor has, the lower his level of burnout will likely be.  Informed as we are by God’s revealed Word and our Lutheran Confessions, we know that Jesus Christ will be the centre of any Christian understanding of wellness, and with that in mind, such an understanding was developed and is offered within this thesis.  A Christian wellness approach, therefore, offers genuine hope to the pastors of Lutheran Church-Canada and others who seek to improve pastoral health and well-being.

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