Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yeah, I can't help think "My religion's better than yours"

And so there's so little merit in this post perhaps you should just skip it, unless perhaps, you're an evangelical who inadvertently happened to get to this blog by some quirky twist of fate.   Regardless, P.Z. Myers today brings to my attention a survey of conservative Evangelical pastors whose results are nothing less than shocking.  From the original link...

  • Of the one thousand fifty (1,050 or 100%) pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.
  • Nine hundred forty-eight (948 or 90%) of pastors stated they are frequently fatigued, and worn out on a weekly and even daily basis (did not say burned out).
  • Nine hundred thirty-five, (935 or 89%) of the pastors we surveyed also considered leaving the ministry at one time. Five hundred ninety, (590 or 57%) said they would leave if they had a better place to go—including secular work.
  • Eighty- one percent (81%) of the pastors said there was no regular discipleship program or effective effort of mentoring their people or teaching them to deepen their Christian formation at their church (remember these are the Reformed and Evangelical—not the mainline pastors!). (This is Key)
  • Eight hundred eight (808 or 77%) of the pastors we surveyed felt they did not have a good marriage!
  • Seven hundred ninety (790 or 75%) of the pastors we surveyed felt they were unqualified and/or poorly trained by their seminaries to lead and manage the church or to counsel others. This left them disheartened in their ability to pastor.
  • Seven hundred fifty-six (756 or 72%) of the pastors we surveyed stated that they only studied the Bible when they were preparing for sermons or lessons. This left only 38% who read the Bible for devotions and personal study.
  • Eight hundred two (802 or 71%) of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
  • Three hundred ninety-nine (399 or 38%) of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.
  • Three hundred fifteen (315 or 30%) said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
  • Two hundred seventy (270 or 26%) of pastors said they regularly had personal devotions and felt they were adequately fed spirituality. (This is Key).
  • Two hundred forty-one (241 or 23%) of the pastors we surveyed said they felt happy and content on a regular basis with who they are in Christ, in their church, and in their home!
  • Of the pastors surveyed, they stated that a mean (average) of only 25% of their church’s membership attended a Bible Study or small group at least twice a month. The range was 11% to a max of 40%, a median (the center figure of the table) of 18% and a mode (most frequent number) of 20%. This means over 75% of the people who are at a “good” evangelical church do not go to a Bible Study or small group (that is not just a book or curriculum study, but where the Bible is opened and read, as well as studied), (This is Key). (I suspect these numbers are actually lower in most evangelical and Reformed churches because the pastors that come to conferences tend to be more interested in the teaching and care of their flock than those who usually do not attend.)
Here is research that we distilled from Barna, Focus on the Family, and Fuller Seminary, all of which backed up our findings, and additional information from reviewing others’ research:
  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
  • Eighty percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons (This is Key). 



Now, to be honest, I really did not think, "My religion's better than yours" per se; I did think, "Geez, I would love to do a study on Buddhist teachers and practitioners; I bet  we generally would score better."

And I think that would be true.  I would think the "Read the bible as a magic formula to banish the blues" almost certainly does nothing once its placebo effect wears off, whereas we do have some tools in our arsenal that have been clinically tested.  But to be honest, I also feel for these people, who are caught in a hell of a cognitive dissonance.

2 comments:

Wiseass Zen said...

Here is a report which may provide interesting info, not exactly what you mention in your post, but interesting stuff nonetheless: income, political views, spiritual views, broken down by religions:
http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

You can just read what they have online or download the full report. If you have any problems with the link let me know and I can post the full report on Google Docs and send you a link to that.

Mumon said...

Thanks!