Date of Award

8-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Committee Member

Dr. Robert R. Sinclair, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Thomas W. Britt

Committee Member

Dr. Mary Anne Taylor

Committee Member

Dr. DeWayne Moore

Abstract

Based on the empirical literature, popular press, and personal testimonies, burnout is a reality for many pastors (Doolittle, 2010; Randall, 2013). Burnout and exhaustion among pastors pose a threat to local church health and ministry vitality (Miner, Dowson, & Sterland, 2010). Existing research has focused almost exclusively on individual and job-related variables in an effort to predict pastor job burnout. The current dissertation addressed the lack of understanding regarding pastor job burnout as it relates to pastor health, congregation member, and church organizational outcomes. Specifically, the current dissertation examined the relationships between pastor job burnout and a) pastor physical and mental health, b) intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness of worship service attenders, and c) church organizational health: financial stability, attendance rates, and pastor turnover intentions. Multilevel modeling was used to account for the fact that individual-level data are naturally clustered within organizations, the local church. Most of the hypotheses were supported. For several variables, results demonstrated that the problem of pastor burnout is bigger than the individual pastor. Pastor job burnout (Level 1) was negatively related to pastor physical health, mental health, and turnover intentions. Pastor job burnout (Level 2) was negatively related to both measures of attenders’ extrinsic religiousness: sense of belonging and participation, but not attenders’ intrinsic religiousness. Churches with higher average pastor job burnout (Level 2) had lower ratings of financial stability, but burnout was unrelated to church attendance rates. Social support from the congregation weakened the positive relationship between pastor job burnout (Level 1) and pastor turnover intentions, but did not affect the relationships between pastor job burnout and physical or mental health. Efforts to reduce pastor burnout would benefit the entire congregation. Implications for research and the wider church community are discussed.

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