Rating effectiveness and stress in leaders

Given some levels of mismatch between leaders’ aspirations and the reality of day to day ministry roles, along with the challenges and demands of ministry in general, how do leaders feel they are going?

In the 2016 NCLS, local senior church leaders were asked to rate their effectiveness and sustainability levels.  Leaders were asked:

  • How would you rate your overall effectiveness in your present role here over the last few months? (1 = “very low”, through to 7 = “very high”)
  • How stressed do you feel in your present role here over the last few months? (1 = “very low stress”, through to 7 = “very high stress”)


High degrees of stress as well as effectiveness

The results for local senior leaders reveal that stress levels were on the high end of the stress response scale for a large minority of leaders (46%), and a large majority (85%) rated their effectiveness on the high end of the effectiveness scale.

This illustrates that, rather than an “either-or” scenario, many leaders experience high stress and a high sense of effectiveness at the same time.

Comparing the denominations, Pentecostals rated their effectiveness most highly, but together with the Catholics, they were the least stressed. Other non-mainstream Protestants indicated the highest levels of stress. Assessments of stress and effectiveness were unrelated for Catholics and weakly negatively related for Protestants (least weakly for Protestants other than those from mainstream denominations and Pentecostal movements).


One area that might be one contribution to stress experienced by senior local leaders, is a mismatch between their views of their actual roles and what their roles should be. This highlights the need for greater equipping in particular ministry areas. Overall, leaders tended to rate their effectiveness highly.


More details can be found in the full research paper 'Senior Leaders in Local Churches: A Demographic Profile and Leadership Snapshot'

Ruth Powell, Sam Sterland, Miriam Pepper
Data Sources:

Powell, R., Pepper, M., Hancock, N. and Sterland, S. (2017). 2016 NCLS Leader Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.