from David Briggs at the Huffington Post:
Posted April 24, 2012
They are called "clergy killers"-- congregations where a small group of members are so disruptive that no pastor is able to maintain spiritual leadership for long.
And yet ministers often endure the stresses of these dysfunctional relationships for months, or even years, before eventually being forced out or giving up.
Adding to the strain is the process, which is often shrouded in secrecy. No one-- from denominational officials to church members to the clerics themselves-- wants to acknowledge the failure of a relationship designed to be a sign to the world of mutual love and support.
But new research is providing insights into just how widespread-- and damaging-- these forced terminations can be to clergy.
An online study published in the March issue of the Review of Religious Research found 28 percent of ministers said they had at one time been forced to leave their jobs due to personal attacks and criticism from a small faction of their congregations.
The researchers from Texas Tech University and Virginia Tech University also found that the clergy who had been forced out were more likely to report lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of depression, stress and physical health problems.
And too few clergy are getting the help they need, said researcher Marcus Tanner of Texas Tech.
"Everybody knows this is happening, but nobody wants to talk about it," Tanner said in an interview. "The vast majority of denominations across the country are doing absolutely nothing."