Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Pastors and Congregants Perception Differs
The Barna Update, January 10, 2006
Surveys Show Pastors Claim Congregants Are Deeply Committed to God But Congregants Deny It! shows the disparity between pastors’ perception and congregational perception of their spiritual growth in two national surveys in the United States.
The data reported in this summary are based upon two telephone surveys conducted in October and November 2005. One survey included interviews with a nationwide random sample of 1002 adults, 18 years of age or older.
The other survey was conducted among 627 Senior Pastors of Protestant churches across the nation, distributed proportionally among denominations.
The survey on pastors shows that pastors tend to think their congregations are well spiritually. It was found that on the average, pastors consider that 70% of the adults in their congregation places God as top priority in their lives. Placing God in terms of priority is taken as a measure of their spiritual maturity. Some 16% of pastors consider 90% of their adult congregation accord God the highest priority.
However a survey on church adult members shows that only 15% of them regard God as highest priority.
The report comments, “Regardless of how the population was evaluated, though, there was no segment that came close to the level of commitment that Protestant pastors claimed for churchgoers.”
Why is there this mismatch of perception? First, pastors measure their congregations’ spiritual maturity by criteria that are measurable such as; volunteerism, church attendance, claiming some form of life change experiences (accepting Christ or praying the sinner’s prayer), being involved in evangelism, acquiring new biblical knowledge, tithing and by comments made to pastors. Unfortunately this criterion does not actually reflect the real spirituality of the congregation. The danger of this is that pastors may conclude that they are effective in their ministry. Hence they do not need to further focus on deepening the spiritual life of their congregations as their congregations are doing well. They do not see the urgency to improve on their spiritual formation practices on their congregation. The sad outcome is that the spiritual hungers of the congregations are not met.
Second, pastors tend to see their church from the point of an organisation. If the organisation is running well; church attendance is good, enough volunteers are running the church activities and the giving the church is receiving is satisfactory, the pastor assumes that all these happens because the members are spiritually matured enough to produce the desired outcome. From the congregation point of view however, many may be participating out of a sense of obligation and they felt their real spiritual needs are being neglected. In terms of education strategy, it is not effective even though pastors concerned believed that it is so and that their congregations are maturing spiritually. Something to think about.
|posted 13 February 2007|
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