STUCK is a project by sociologists Josh Packard, Ph.D. and Todd Ferguson, Ph.D. aimed at understanding the experiences of pastors and other religious professionals who feel they are stuck in their jobs despite a strong desire to be Done with institutional religion.
Increasingly, we have been hearing from pastors who tell us that if it were not for their job, they wouldn’t even attend church. Charged with producing a religious experience every week for a congregation has left them unable to have an authentic spiritual experience of their own.
“I mean, I spend all week figuring out how to get people closer to God, but I see how the sausage is made, you know. So when I actually have that feeling of being close to God myself, I’m always wondering if it’s real or just the creation of the person who put the experience together.” -Sarah, 56
To make matters worse, many of them feel they are unable to make a career shift. They are saddled with debt from seminary or undergraduate degrees, children in college or other barriers which keep them from being able to take the risk of a career change. Many of the people we’ve heard from simply have no idea what they would do if they left ministry. They don’t know how or if their skills would transfer over into a new industry…and sometimes they don’t.
“I tried, man, I tried. I really wanted to get out of ministry, because I just felt like I was producing an artificial thing each week. I don’t think it has to be, but that’s what it felt like to me. But I found out real quickly that I’m not really as good at anything else as I am at this, and I certainly couldn’t get paid as well. So here I am.” -Alan, 43
The study is completely protected by the University of Northern Colorado’s Institutional Review Board. This means that identities are protected and will not be shared. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the study, please contact us using the form below, and we’ll be in touch to set up an interview.