Original Research

Exodus of clergy: ‘When the fight is just not worth it anymore’ – The role of conflict in responding to the call

Shaun Joynt
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 52, No 1 | a2331 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v52i1.2331 | © 2018 Shaun Joynt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 November 2017 | Published: 23 July 2018

About the author(s)

Shaun Joynt, Department of Practical Theology, North-West University, South Africa; Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Conflict affects clergy’s response to the call. Unresolved conflict negatively influences their decision to remain in full-time pastoral ministry. This contributes to a shortage of clergy in the Roman Catholic Church, but to a lesser extent, the Protestant church, as it faces a distribution or displacement challenge. The shortage negatively affects the church, as clergy equip congregants to live the faith and transmit it to the next generation. The purpose of this study is to discover what factors are involved in responding to the call to full-time pastoral ministry. A practical theological grounded theory approach is used to discover the properties of the basic social process responding to the call and more specifically one of its categories, namely conflict. Semi-structured interviews are conducted and data coded, using Glaser and Strauss’ grounded theory methodology in order to determine a basic social process, namely responding to the call. The category of ‘conflict’ includes properties such as conflict due to lack of communication, dealing with favouritism, conflict with leadership and managing conflict or leaving due to conflict. Osmer’s descriptive-empirical task is used to view the category conflict from a practical theological perspective. The results of this study indicate three responses to the call by clergy who left full-time pastoral ministry: not called in the first place, a dual call (being bi-vocational or seasonal), and being called, but leaving anyway due to, among other factors, conflict.


Practical Theology; Clergy; Calling; Conflict; Grounded Theory


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