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Wounded Pastors

Navigating Burnout, Finding Healing, and Discerning the Future of Your Ministry

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Westminster John Knox Press
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You’re not alone in your ministry. And you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Ministry is a stressful vocation, with unspoken expectations, projected anxieties, and conflicting demands. After the pandemic caused a sudden shift to online worship and factions fighting over when and how to return to in-person worship, pastors have been leaving congregational ministry at even higher rates than usual. The emotional fallout of burnout and abuse at the hands of parishioners is something pastors carry for years, whether they stay or leave the congregation.

Seasoned pastor Carol Howard Merritt and psychotherapist and former pastor James Fenimore join their expertise to offer validation, support, and guidance for pastors who have been hurt by the church. With wisdom that can come only from experience, they describe and define aspects of struggle and pain readers may have difficulty articulating or claiming for themselves, and they offer compassionate, informed guidance on how to find healing. A systems approach to conflict sheds light on the dynamics of church conflict and how clergy can tend their own well-being amid leadership challenges. The final chapter helps readers consider their overall vocational path based on what they’ve experienced and decide whether they can remain in congregational ministry or need to pursue a different line of work.

Free downloadable resources available for pastors and church members! Visit to download a personal inventory for pastors that can be printed out or used as an interactive, digital journal; a list of seven ways that church members can support pastors; and social media images that can be shared.

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James Fenimore is a psychotherapist and congregational consultant with the Samaritan Counseling Center and is based out of Bedford, New York. He has served as a pastor and district superintendent in the United Methodist Church and is a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York state. He holds degrees in technology, theology, and psychology, often pursuing programs and projects that merge the three areas of study.

Carol Howard Merritt is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is the author of Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church and Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation. She has also written two devotionals and is a popular speaker for preachers and church groups.

Wounded Pastors
Navigating Burnout...
by Westminster John Knox Press
Wounded Pastors
Navigating Burnout...
by Westminster John Knox Press
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