Clergy Survey

The Experience of Ministry Survey (EMS) is a series of three surveys conducted in 2011, 2013 and 2015 in which all clergy in England were invited to participate. The aim was to collect data on a nationally representative sample of clergy at each time-point, but also to follow a cohort of clergy across these three time-points to better understand how their experiences change and the effects these changes have. The survey covers issues relating to clergy’s day-to-day role, their diocese, perceptions of spiritual and numerical growth and their health and well-being. The work is underpinned by a number of established academic theories with regard to healthy and effective working.

The 2011, 2013 and 2015 findings have been written into a number of reports that can be found on these pages, along with other reports of interest. The findings have been presented at each of the Faith in Research Conferences across 2011-15. The emerging picture is that clergy roles are challenging and demanding in a variety of different ways and require frequent sacrifices. In particular, tasks linked to administration remain a substantial aspect of ministry and are not always popular or seen as valuable.

Yet the vast majority of clergy continue to recognise very strong and clear calls to ministry, acknowledge considerable autonomy and support from colleagues within their roles, and remain highly engaged towards the main tasks they undertake.

Taking part in the research really makes a difference and the responses received have directly contributed to discussions of burnout among younger clergy within Bishop’s staff meetings, raised awareness of the experiences of self-supporting ministers, and supported at least one diocese in their successfully presenting the case for greater investment in ministry support

This project has generated a significant amount of data, analysis of which is still ongoing, as new findings are reported they'll be flagged in Friday Mailing, on the Ministry Development Blog and posted here.

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