Exhausted pastor praying.

An answer to pastoral burnout in the church

Pastors from all over are facing the rising pressures and stress of wearing multiple hats in their roles. From caregivers to mentors to leaders, pastors face what is called pastoral burnout

In the previous article, we discussed what burnout is, what that looks like, and some tangible solutions to be one step ahead of the battle. But, sooner or later, we have to ask the question: “What can we do about it?”


With pastors always trying to take care of others, they sometimes limit their capacity to care for themselves. That is where chaplains come in. 

Chaplains are trained individuals who are present in the church and can help deal with congregational and spiritual issues – for both church members and staff. 

There is an ever-present line in ministry that is bound to be stepped over from time to time: pastors often carry the burdens of others, not realizing that there are important skills needed to ensure this doesn’t happen – and ultimately, can lead to burnout. 

Chaplains have been trained in crisis response, emotional support, grief support, and so much more. They have been trained to support in specific circumstances that pastors would otherwise have to shoulder on their own. That way, the ministry team can continue to support everyone in their church without being stretched thin and becoming exhausted.

How Chaplains can show up in the church

Pastors are swamped with the needs of their church community, and sometimes feel they have nowhere to go to process their emotions. Properly trained Chaplains can share the load in a variety of different settings. 

Here are a handful of different scenarios:

Being Present with the Hospitalized

For one, chaplains can go to the hospital to pray for people when they are sick. If there’s surgery going to take place, they can call and pray with that person and provide the hospital visit a pastor might normally make. 

Chaplains show up in more ways than one and lean into what is convenient for the person(s) in need. 

Family Emergencies

If there’s an emergency in a family, chaplains can intervene. The solution of chaplaincy is as simple as that. They know the right questions to ask the family in a given emergency to see, really, where that person is mentally, spiritually, and physically. 

Chaplains can collect intel on the severity of the situation and what the stakes are, provide immediate support, notify pastoral staff as appropriate, and proceed from there. 

For Pastors and the Church Ministries

Not only do chaplains care for the congregation and community, but they are also present to care for those who may need them most. It’s not enough to leave the burdens of the people to the pastors or primary care ministries; there needs to be a support system for the supporters. 

Chaplains are equipped and ready to support and come alongside the pastoral care staff, as pastors deem appropriate. They can be available to their churches on-call, or how the church sees fit to use the Chaplains within their church. Even more so, Chaplains work in fields of grief and loss, trauma, suicide ideation, and domestic violence, and are trained to create a safe and knowledgeable space for people in need.

How to implement Chaplains in your church

First and foremost, pastors need to be able to accept help – and believe that chaplains are a great option to support them, their team, and their congregation. Then, you can begin to build your team of chaplains. 

It’s best to identify around ten people within the church that are already doing the care work mimicked by that of chaplains. The question, “Who truly cares about people in your church?” is important. Find the members that show empathy and security towards others. 

Consider sponsoring interested people from your congregation to learn the skills your church needs.

Benefits for Pastors

With a trained team of chaplains working within your church, pastors will be able to share the load and limit the possibility of burnout. 

Additionally, when churches send chaplains through the I.F.O.C.’s chaplain program, pastors will receive four hours of dedicated time at the end of the week with the I.F.O.C. team to help them get started. In other words, pastors will get four hours of consulting time to help build the team, dig into how this will work in your church, and much more.

The resources don’t stop there. The I.F.O.C. provides additional specialty training and refresher classes in order for them to stay committed, motivated, and supported. We are committed to helping the church – and church staff – thrive by tailoring a program, along with training, to meet the needs of the team.

Let’s Envision Together…

Chaplains create a space for pastors and the church to continue furthering their mission. By teaming up with the pastoral staff, chaplains can be the solution that provides pastors more time and energy to shepherd their flock. Don’t be held down by the pressure and stress of leading others. It is possible – and important – for pastors to care for themselves in order to pour into others. 

Chaplaincy could be the answer the church is seeking because

  • Chaplains can be present in community emergencies, prayer, and act as support for care teams
  • The program is simple and practical to implement into your church, starting now
  • Chaplains lift the weight off pastors and allows them to pursue further what God has called them to do

If you’d like to learn more about chaplaincy in your church, set up a call with our team. We’ll help you understand if chaplains are right for your team and how you can implement them in your church.