How Many Extra Hours Are Pastors Working During COVID-19?

Sam Rainer

September 6, 2020

The lockdowns did not shorten the workweek. Many people in a variety of professions are working more hours. I wanted to know how COVID-19 affected the workweek of pastors. At Church Answers, I asked a simple question of our community of pastors and church leaders.

How many extra hours have you worked per week during the pandemic?

The sample size was small and limited to our community of people at Church Answers. It’s not a scientific poll, but it does provide insight into what is happening with the workload of pastors during the pandemic.

I was surprised about twenty-eight percent of pastors reported they were working about the same hours. However, it’s not the increased hours as much as it is the kind of hours—more stressful and without a normal rhythm. Any semblance of a daily pattern or a weekly schedule are gone. For some, it’s the weird schedule that is worse than the extra hours.

About forty-four percent of pastors are working up to ten extra hours a week, and twenty-eight percent of pastors reported working more than ten extra hours a week. Among my peers, I know the longer weeks are beginning to create fatigue and burnout.

The extra hours are necessary right now. The COVID-19 virus is a black swan event, something unpredictable and with severe consequences. Many people are in positions of working longer hours with much higher stress levels. Nothing compares to what healthcare workers are experiencing. Teachers are experiencing this phenomenon as well. Pastors must step up with everyone else. Most are doing so. It’s hard but necessary.

Fatigue and burnout will cause higher turnover. While most pastors are willing to work the extra hours, the stress will eventually take a toll. A wave of burnout will hit and cause pastor turnover to be higher. Pastor tenure is already an issue, and it will get worse with COVID-19.

This season is difficult, but we should be grateful to have jobs. I’m a pastor. I don’t believe my job is easy, but I’m grateful to have it. There are others who would gladly work the extra hours if it meant gaining employment. Before we start to complain too much, let’s be grateful for the financial support of our churches.

The extra hours are a reality for most pastors. Even those who are working the same number of hours are experiencing higher stress levels. Few, if any, pastors are working fewer hours. If you are a church member, take a moment to pray for your pastor. If you are a pastor, take a moment and thank God for your church. The extra hours will glorify God if we work them with humble hearts and willing spirits.

7 comments on “How Many Extra Hours Are Pastors Working During COVID-19?”

  1. Pat Batdorff says:

    Oh, Pastor Sam, Please take care of yourself. Please try and get the rest you need. You are in our prayers daily. We love you and can’t bear to think you are doing more than you should. God bless you, pastor, as you serve our Lord and your flock.

    1. Sam says:

      Thanks Pat! Will do! Praying for you!

  2. Margaret says:

    I have mentioned this to you before….so again……be careful of your time❤️

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      I am thankful for the reminder!

  3. Thom Rainer says:

    Sam –

    Many people will expect me to have a bias, but I can attest to the long hours you give your church before, during, and after the pandemic. A 70+ hour workweek is not unusual for you. Yet you do so without complaint and only gratitude. I am incredibly proud of you.

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      You are biased. But you’re supposed to be as my Dad.

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