Study results show mainline Protestant ministers are more likely

to be furthering their education than are evangelical ministers

(Original release date: March 7, 2005)  Research results being released in the March/April edition of Facts & Trends magazine show most Protestant clergy are involved with continuing their education through classes and/or seminars, but that a majority feel their budget for additional education is insufficient. In addition, slightly under half say they are encouraged by their church’s leaders to continue their education using church time and/or funds.

 

The study, conducted by Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, Ariz.) among a representative sample of 860 Protestant church ministers nationwide, asked pastors about their participation in classes, conferences, and seminars, as well as their church’s budget for such activities.

 

Only 9% of all senior pastors had not attended any classes, conferences, or seminars in the last two years. The most common types attended were:

 

· Leadership/management skills – 54%

· Church growth – 52%

· Prayer/spiritual growth/renewal – 49%

· Evangelism/outreach training – 45%

· Personal skills training – 28%

· Discipleship/small group development – 26%

· Worship planning and ideas – 24%

· Marriage and family ministry – 19%

· Financial management/fundraising – 16%

· Youth ministry – 11%

· Church marketing/promotion – 9%

· Children’s ministry – 8%

· Multi-cultural ministry – 6%

· Single adult ministry – 1%

· Any other type – 14%

 

There are not many differences according to the size of the church the pastor is leading, but one significant difference is that continued education on the topics of church growth and leadership or management skills is less common among pastors in small churches than among those leading churches with 100 or more in regular attendance.

 

There are also relatively few differences by the pastor’s age or the church’s region of the country. Fifteen percent of pastors age 60 or older had not gone through any additional education in the last two years, compared to 8% of those under 60. Younger ministers are more likely than older ones to have focused on leadership or management skills as well as marriage and family ministry. Youth ministry and personal skills training are both particularly popular in the Northeast, while evangelism and outreach training is particularly popular in the South.

 

There are some significant differences according to denomination. The average minister has received continuing education on 3.6 different topics during the last two years; for Methodists, this is 4.5 different topics. Southern Baptists, also, are more likely than average to be trained on a variety of topics, with an average of 4.0 over the last two years.

 

Some topics are particularly popular in certain denominational groups. Church growth training, for example, is something undertaken by 70% of Methodist ministers and 60% of Southern Baptists, but just 44% of Presbyterians and 28% of Lutherans. Another example is that 62% of Southern Baptists have undergone education on evangelism or outreach, compared to just 33% of Pentecostal/charismatic pastors.

 

Even though most ministers have gone through seminars or classes, 36% say their church does not budget any money for this, and the average church that does budget for this reserves just $1,504 per year for continuing education for their senior pastor.

 

Half of the smallest churches have no money at all in their budget for training for the senior pastor (compared to 24% of churches with 100 – 199 people attending, and 16% of larger churches). Pentecostal and Baptist churches (other than Southern Baptist) are the least likely to budget for the pastor’s training, while Presbyterian and Lutheran churches are the most likely to do so. Overall, 82% of mainline churches have money in the budget for the pastor’s continued education, compared to just 62% of evangelical churches.

 

Among churches with more than one paid staff member, 74% budget funds for continuing education for staff other than the senior pastor (an average of $1,419 per church among those that do, although sometimes that amount is split among multiple staff members).

 

Only a minority of churches (32%) have any money budgeted for continuing education for key lay leaders, and the average for all lay leaders combined is under $1,200 annually.

 

Only 45% of pastors believe their budget for continued education is sufficient, while 55% call it insufficient. Lutherans (61%) and Presbyterians (56%) are more likely than clergy in other denominations to believe their budget for this is sufficient.

Among churches with multiple staff members, 46% of pastors feel their budget for continuing education of their staff is sufficient, while 54% call the budget insufficient.

 

Where pastors really think their budget is insufficient is in training for key lay leaders; just 27% feel they have a sufficient budget for this.

 

One additional issue is that many pastors aren’t being encouraged to further their education by leaders in the church (deacons, elders, board of directors, etc.). Forty-eight percent of all ministers say they are encouraged to continue their education using church time and/or funds. Another 8% say they are encouraged to further their education, as long as they use personal time and/or money to do so. Many (40%) say they are neither encouraged nor discouraged to continue their education, while 2% report being actively discouraged from doing so.

 

The smaller the church, the less likely the pastor is to be encouraged to further his or her education. Only 39% of ministers in small churches say they are encouraged to attend classes and seminars using church time and/or funds, compared to 55% in mid-size churches, and 64% in larger congregations.

 

The attitudes of church leadership toward pastoral education vary significantly by denomination. Most Presbyterian ministers are encouraged to further their education with church time or funds (73%), as are a majority of Methodists (57%) and half of Lutherans (51%). Pentecostals and Southern Baptists are the ones most likely to report ambivalence toward continued education by their church leadership. In general, there is far less encouragement to attend conferences and seminars in evangelical churches than in mainline Protestant churches; 39% of pastors in evangelical churches are encouraged to further their education using church time/money, compared to 64% in mainline churches.

 

Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research, found it particularly noteworthy that not even half of all senior pastors are encouraged to further their education using church time or funds. “The ironic thing is that many laity still have the view that it’s the pastor’s job to do everything in the church, from growing the congregation to planning worship to being a youth leader, yet many don’t wish to equip their pastor to be better at doing any of those things,” Sellers noted. “Most people in business will tell you that the more skilled a CEO is, the better off that CEO’s company is. Pastors are essentially the CEOs of local churches. Why would you not want your CEO to be better trained and equipped?”

 

Sellers also suggested that the findings seem to support one common perception about mainline and evangelical pastors, but explode another one. “There’s a perception that evangelicals sometimes do not value formal education as much as mainline Protestants. Certainly this study shows mainline churches budgeting more money for training, putting more emphasis on this, and sending ministers to training on a greater variety of topics. There’s also a perception that certain topics are of greater interest to evangelicals – particularly small groups, church growth, church marketing, creative worship, and evangelism. But in all of these areas, mainline ministers were just as likely, and sometimes more likely, to attend classes or conferences as were evangelical ministers.”

 

Study Details:

The study was conducted by Grey Matter Research (formerly Ellison Research), a marketing research company located in Phoenix, Arizona.  The sample of 860 Protestant ministers included only those who are actively leading churches.  The study’s total sample is accurate to within ±3.2 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level with a 50 percent response distribution.

 

The study was conducted in all 50 states, using a representative sample of pastors from all Protestant denominations.  Respondents’ geography, church size, and denomination were carefully tracked to ensure appropriate representation and accuracy.

 

 

Intellectual ‘work’ is misnamed; it is a pleasure,

a dissipation, and is its own highest reward.

Mark Twain

A PASSION FOR

RESEARCH THAT

MAKES A DIFFERENCE

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Continuing education, by size and theology of church…

Continuing education, by denominational group…

Church budgets and encouragement, by size and theology…

Church budgets and encouragement, by denomination…

 

Type Attended

Southern

Baptist

Other

Baptist

 

Methodist

 

Lutheran

 

Pentecostal

 

Presbyterian

All

Others

None last two years

8%

10%

6%

7%

10%

4%

12%

Church marketing/promotion

10

6

9

9

14

5

9

Church growth

60

50

70

28

54

44

46

Leadership/management

57

49

64

44

58

46

50

Discipleship/small groups

36

29

36

28

24

31

19

Children’s ministry

5

11

12

9

8

--

6

Youth ministry

8

12

13

18

10

13

9

Personal skills training

28

18

40

29

24

28

24

Finances/fundraising

21

11

26

14

22

16

11

Evangelism/outreach

62

46

49

42

33

29

39

Worship planning and ideas

24

16

44

38

12

34

24

Single adult ministry

1

2

1

1

3

--

1

Marriage/family ministry

21

24

13

12

29

4

16

Multi-cultural ministry

6

8

8

7

4

5

7

Other topic/area

11

18

7

25

9

18

15

Type Attended

All

Small

Medium

Large

Mainline

Evangelical

None last two years

9%

13%

6%

3%

5%

9%

Church marketing/promotion

9

6

9

15

10

8

Church growth

52

48

54

60

55

50

Leadership/management skills

54

48

60

64

57

55

Discipleship/small group development

26

26

24

32

35

22

Children’s ministry

8

9

8

6

7

7

Youth ministry

11

13

8

9

14

10

Personal skills training

28

28

24

30

34

28

Financial management/fundraising

16

15

14

19

16

15

Evangelism/outreach training

45

44

42

50

43

47

Prayer/spiritual growth/renewal

49

51

48

45

58

48

Worship planning and ideas

24

22

24

30

37

20

Single adult ministry

1

--

2

3

1

1

Marriage and family ministry

19

16

24

21

13

23

Multi-cultural ministry

6

4

6

10

10

4

Other topic/area

14

16

12

12

16

13

Type Attended

All

Small

Medium

Large

Mainline

Evangelical

Have no budget for the senior pastor’s education

36%

50%

24%

16%

18%

38%

Feel the budget for their education is insufficient

55

62

52

39

47

56

Position of church leaders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  -- encourage education using church time/funds

48

39

55

64

64

39

  -- encourage education using pastor’s time/funds

8

12

3

5

7

8

  -- not encouraged or discouraged either way

40

43

40

29

26

48

  -- discouraged

2

2

1

2

2

2

 

Type Attended

Southern

Baptist

Other

Baptist

 

Methodist

 

Lutheran

 

Pentecostal

 

Presbyterian

All

Others

Have no budget for the senior pastor’s education

27%

47%

24%

17%

51%

8%

37%

Feel the budget for their education is insufficient

53

60

53

39

60

44

54

Position of church leaders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-- encourage education using church time/funds

37

46

57

51

38

73

57

-- encourage education using pastor’s time/funds

8

8

8

6

9

2

10

-- not encouraged or discouraged either way

50

40

30

42

46

25

27

-- discouraged

4

3

2

--

2

--

2