January 2011

Raleigh association plans for ministry, economy

January 4 2011 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

Churches aren’t the only entities feeling the economic pinch. Associations like Raleigh Baptist Association (RBA) have noticed changes in giving as well.

“We are trying to deal with the realities,” said Roger Nix, RBA’s executive director. “We have a whole lot of churches that are suffering paying back debt.”

Debt accrued from building programs in more burgeoning times.

The current economic outlook has provided a “whole different set of circumstances” than the association or even churches were expecting.

Nix and association leaders have been tracking trends within the association in order to help them plan. He sees a lag between what the general public economy and the church experiences.

With an annual budget of $505,000 — $625,000 with restricted funds for ministry partnerships — Nix estimated that 2010’s income is down about 12 percent over 2009’s amount.

The association aims to keep within its budget each year and has built up a “good reserve.” In 2010, RBA exceeded its budget by two percent. With 138 churches in the association, Nix said the income from churches was off by three percent or $12,000. He said 95 of the 138 churches in the association give money. Of those 38 churches have given more, 42 have given less and 14 have given the same.

Nix said 95 churches giving is “about on par with every year” but the pattern of giving has changed slightly. In a typical year 50 churches give more and 30 give less.

It wasn’t just money either. Nix said several of the ministries were behind their normal rates for the year. For example, the number of cakes donated for prisons in December “was down pretty significantly,” he said.  

Helping non-profits
One of the ministries of Raleigh Baptist Association that has been affected has been its relationship with non-profit organizations. Previously, office space was rented to local non-profits but those non-profits have been feeling the economic downturn as well. Firm Foundations, which worked with Raleigh and Wake County to rehabilitate homes, relied on federal funds that have dried up with the economy. The office used to have four offices within the RBA building. Now, the director works out of his home.

Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) continues to operate out of the RBA. Nix said the association hoped to start a counseling ministry linked to Congregational Health but that also relies on funding.

“It’s really hard to work those details out,” Nix said.  

Being proactive
One of the ways Raleigh Baptist Association leaders are trying to plan for the future is considering the possibility of selling their property. Valued at approximately $2.3 million, the association pays $46,000 a year — nine percent of its 2011 budget — toward its building debt. A vote in its Oct. 26, 2010, associational meeting allowed the Resource Commission to research the possibility.

The current resource center is 11,550 square feet. With the non-profits moving out and changing needs, Nix estimated 7,500 square feet would be enough. The multi-purpose room, which is 1,300 square feet, does not suitably meet the needs of the five new church starts that have been using the space for about a year.

The December newsletter said mission gifts have been declining the last three years and ministry partnerships with the Baptist State Convention and the North American Mission Board “will disappear over the next several years.”

Two neighbors have expressed interest in acquiring the property.

Nix said that if the association does move forward with this sell, the association will likely relocate in the same area.

He estimates that it would cost $1.2 million to build a more suitable building and relocation.

The next associational meeting is slated for April.

“We’re trying to put our house in order,” Nix said. “No plan is a plan to fail.”

That’s why Nix said associational leaders are trying to be proactive.

If the Commission hears anything sooner than the April meeting they can have a called meeting to discuss options.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)    
1/4/2011 1:58:00 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Study says recession catching up to churches

January 4 2011 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After two years of only moderate impact on offerings, the recession has caught up with America’s churches, according to new figures compiled by LifeWay Research.

One in three Protestant churches reported receiving less money this year than in 2009, the research division of the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing house found. That makes 2010 the third consecutive year that the number of churches reporting reduced income has grown.

Just one in five, meanwhile, reported 2010 giving above 2009 figure. That is down from 43 percent who reported larger offerings last year than in 2008 and 47 percent who did better in 2008 than in 2007.

“The reality has been that the economic downturn has not hit churches as hard as it hit other sectors of society,” LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer said in a Dec. 14 webcast discussing the poll. “Churches have actually fared relatively well compared to other sectors of the economy.”

The National Bureau of Economic Research declared in September that the recession that began in December 2007 ended in June 2009, but Stetzer said, “Now we’re kind of having church recession.”

“The pattern in churches tends to be tied more to unemployment than the stock market,” Stetzer said. “Many churches are supported by people who give proportionately. When a high percentage of our congregations are unemployed, that impacts the giving.”

In a survey of 1,000 pastors polled in October, 66 percent said the economy is having a somewhat negative impact on their church. That’s up from 54 percent in March. Thirteen percent described the economy’s impact as very negative, up from 8 percent in March. Forty-six percent said their churches are running behind budget, 10 percent more than in November 2009.

Stetzer said he doesn’t expect the recession to be over for churches for quite a while, especially if the jobless rate remains high. More than half of the pastors surveyed (58 percent) said more people in their churches have lost jobs than in the past, and 30 percent said more parishioners have moved away to find work.

Seven percent more churches reported freezing staff salaries this year — 54 percent in October 2010 compared to 47 percent in 2009.

One in five (19 percent) delayed a building project or other large capital expenditure. That compares to 14 percent in November 2009.

Sixteen percent delayed hiring that was planned, 14 percent reduced salaries from last year’s levels and 10 percent laid off one or more employees. More churches also reduced insurance benefits for staff. Stetzer said the news about the economy is not all bad.

Historically church attendance increases during an economic downturn, and a bad economy also creates new opportunities for ministry.

Half of the pastors said there is a greater sense of excitement in their church about opportunities to minister to the needy and 49 percent said more people are volunteering their time in community service.

In light of the new data, Stetzer urged church leaders to “quantify” the economy’s impact in planning their budget. “Scarcity brings clarity,” Stetzer said. “This is actually an opportunity to stop doing some things you probably needed to stop doing anyway.”

He encouraged church members to approach budget planning with an eye toward what is “mission critical” for the church.

He discouraged short-term solutions like cutting back on global missions.

“I’m not seeing this as a time to retreat,” he said. “We may have less as a church but do more for the kingdom.”

Another positive thing that comes out of economic hard times is that churches become less clergy-driven and more dependent on volunteers.

Instead of viewing the pastor as CEO and lay people as customers, Stetzer said, clergy and laity must work as “co-laborers” in order to get the job done.

He also reminded church leaders that the recession is an opportunity for Christians to focus on higher things than the economy.

“Our faith is not built upon the monetary system,” he said. “Our faith rests upon the Rock that is Jesus. These are opportunities God is giving us to give Him glory.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)


(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)    
1/4/2011 1:52:00 PM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Market bumps raise church pension concerns

January 4 2011 by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service

Religious denominations have long provided retired clergy and staff with secure pension payments — more secure, in some cases, than corporate retirement plans.

But some recent bumps have drawn attention to the vulnerabilities of so-called “church plans,” which are exempt from federal regulations aimed at safeguarding retirement funds for private-sector retirees.

As cash-strapped states and private companies revamp, freeze or end their pension programs altogether, participants in church plans are now realizing how church plans can be riskier than they appear, observers say.

“As a group, employees in so-called church plans are far more at risk than other private sector employees,” said Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center, a Washington-based watchdog group.

Bucking the trend is GuideStone Financial Services. Since 1918 when it started, the organization has never missed a payment, said Johnny Ross, who works with GuideStone and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Ross spoke with a reporter from the Biblical Recorder.

“Fear and greed drive the market,” said Ross, who considers GuideStone offers “the best retirement plan today.”

GuideStone did alter its rate on lifetime annuities. Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, GuideStone will feather down its rate from 6 percent down to match the market rate.

Unlike other private sector workers whose pensions are insured by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, church employees have no federal agency poised to rescue their employer-provided pensions in the event of a devastating market crash.

Yet “because there hasn’t been a collapse of a (church) pension board plan, everybody I think is comfortable leaving them alone.” In several recent cases, however, churches have failed to keep their plans fully funded to be able to meet obligations to retirees:
  • In October, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington (Del.) said it had just $8.5 million available to pay $52 million in pension liabilities. The diocese, which is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, is assuring pensioners it will meet its obligations.
  • In August, the Archdiocese of Boston informed employees their pension plan — funded at just 79 percent — is “unsustainable.” The archdiocese will keep paying its obligations, according to spokesman Terrence Donilon, but a new market-based plan involving 401(k) or 403b accounts will take effect Jan. 1, 2012, funded through individual and employer contributions.
  • About 12,000 Lutherans are seeing their pension payments shrink by 6 to 9 percent annually from 2010 through 2012. The defined benefit program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was only 61 percent funded in February 2009, and has been closed to new participants since Jan. 1.
Other major denominations are reporting no such problems with their defined benefit plans. Several mainline denominations still offer defined benefit programs, which are increasingly rare in the private sector, as they promise to pay retirees a fixed monthly sum based on a formula.

Defined benefit plans of the Episcopal Church ($8.5 billion), the Presbyterian Church (USA) ($6.2 billion) and the United Methodist Church ($6.2 billion) are all sufficiently funded to meet future obligations, according to church spokespeople. Those three denominational pension funds rank among the nation’s largest, each of them more than twice the size of Vermont’s $2.9 billion state pension fund, for example. Unconvinced that they should follow the lead of corporate America and offer more plans like a 401(k), the organizations overseeing these assets remain committed to offering defined benefits.

“We maintain a prudent, long-term, disciplined and measured investment strategy, and remain convinced that this approach is the most prudent for achieving positive long-term investment results,” said Colette Nies, spokeswoman for the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, in an e-mail.

Observers cautioned church pensioners not to get lulled into a false sense of security.

“The church world tended to be a place that wanted, in the case of clergy, to protect those people from ordination to grave,” said David Powell, a Washington attorney and church pension expert who’s written the only book on the subject. “They wanted to make those sorts of pension promises. It’s the affordability of them that has got many of them concerned now.”

Church plans could qualify for federal insurance if they were to voluntarily comply with associated federal regulations, according to PRC spokeswoman Nancy Hwa. But few, if any, have taken that step.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Dianna L. Cagle, BR assistant managing editor, contributed to this RNS story.)


(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)    
1/4/2011 1:46:00 PM by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Biblical Recorder takes down comment section

January 4 2011 by BR staff

Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site.

During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued.

Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call (919) 847-2127.  
1/4/2011 1:44:00 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



Baptist Men halfway to $400,000 goal

January 3 2011 by BSC Communications

A $100,000 matching donation from the Friess Family Foundation pushed N.C. Baptist Men over the halfway point of what they need to purchase a mobile dental unit totaling $400,000.

So far $225,000 has been raised in order to replace a 1989 Blue Bird bus.

“Each year, we are blessed to be able to treat over 4,500 patients on our two buses and involve over 1,500 medical professionals in missions. In the last five years alone, we have treated more than 20,000 patients with the help of 15,000 volunteers,” said Richard Brunson, Baptist Men executive director-treasurer.

“We have worn out our 1989 unit, but are finding there is a greater need than ever for this ministry. With the current economic condition, many people are not going to a dentist, and this is resulting in many other adverse health conditions.”

The new unit will include two exam rooms, sterilization center, digital X-ray processing, and computers, DVDs and TV screens to help educate patients about good health care practices.

“Because of this gift from the Friess Family Foundation, and the other gifts that have already been given and will be given, many people will see and hear about the love that Christ has for them,” Brunson said.

To make a donation with a credit card, call Kecia Morgan at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5613. Checks made payable to N.C. Baptist Men can be mailed to: Mobile Dental Unit, NCBM, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
1/3/2011 2:38:00 PM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Chaplains a present help

January 3 2011 by Adam Miller, Baptist Press

FORT BRAGG — At times, Jennifer Mitchell wishes her husband would stay in his office, but the feeling passes when she remembers why her husband, Army Chaplain (CPT) Jeff Mitchell, voluntarily puts himself in harm’s way.

Deployed to eastern Afghanistan with the 27th Engineer Battalion from Fort Bragg, N.C., Mitchell works among soldiers who locate and neutralize Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), accompanying them during 14- to 20-hour missions in a reinforced Humvee’s close quarters rolling along Afghan thoroughfares.

“Selfishly I wish he could stay back,” Jennifer said. “Their whole mission is to go out looking for stuff that’s going to blow up. But I realize this is what he’s called to. And it’s what we’re called to as a family.”

“When I go out on these missions with the guys, we’re together for 14, 15, 20 hours,” Mitchell explains. “That’s when these guys really start to open up.

“Over the past 11 months of deployment, my battalion has had 13 paratroopers killed in action in Afghanistan. I consider many of these who were killed in action to be close friends,” Mitchell said. “It’s very difficult to provide spiritual counseling to those who are grieving from a traumatic event while I’ve also lost someone who was a friend.

“But also during this deployment I’ve had the opportunity to lead many soldiers into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Mitchell said. “I’ve had the privilege of making disciples as I go about my daily routine here in Afghanistan.”

Across all branches of service, more than 1,400 Southern Baptists serve as chaplains. As their endorsing entity, the North American Mission Board is able to provide special training, resources and connection to local churches.

Back at Fort Bragg with their four kids, Jennifer Mitchell has lived nearly a year on base and fulfills her own assignment of caring for their kids, teaching them to trust God with the daily uncertainty they face and building friendships with other military families.

“(The kids) have gotten closer to each other,” Jennifer says. “I’ve seen them really taking care of each other, watching out for each other. They know Jeff’s not in a safe place, but they also know God is still in control. If Jeff comes home and even if he doesn’t come home, my kids believe God’s in control.”

Photo from Jeff Mitchell

Chaplain (CPT) Jeff Mitchell (at podium) officiates at a memorial service in Afghanistan for fallen soldiers from the 27th Engineer Battalion from Fort Bragg. During a year-long deployment ending in December, Mitchell lost more than a dozen fellow soldiers.


God’s providence gives chaplains and chaplain families their security, and the belief that God cares about the details of a soldier’s life is what fuels a chaplain’s work.

“Spiritual hope was all but absent in Vietnam,” said Army Chaplain (COL) Roger Criner, who notes that chaplaincy work was not as highly regarded or well-known back then.

Now Criner serves at Fort Knox in Kentucky, his 18th and final assignment. Enlisted at age 19, his early years as a medic in Vietnam opened his eyes to the horrors of battle. His last 20 years serving at places all over the world have opened his eyes to the opportunities for representing Christ in difficult moments.

“I never thought I’d be going to airborne school at age 43,” the 60-year-old Criner said. “But I go where the soldiers go. If you don’t have the badge they have, then you can’t relate to them because you haven’t walked where they walked.” Criner has a number of “badges,” including one called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from multiple combat zone assignments.

“It was early in the morning Easter Sunday,” Criner said in recounting a mortar attack in his years as a medic.

“I was looking forward to leaving Vietnam. Early that morning I can remember hearing a loud boom followed by multiple other booms. The whole compound was shaken to the core. Sirens went off. ... It was chaotic. The wounded were everywhere. There was metal scattered all over the flight line.

“It was devastation. That’s all I can say. I can still smell the smells, hear the sounds; 30 years later I still have nightmares,” he said. “People think you can be healed of PTSD but you can’t. You just learn to walk with it like living with a limp.”

As Criner has learned to live with PTSD, he’s helped others over the years do the same.

Following his stint in Vietnam, Criner was discharged from the service, attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, pastored a church for 10 years and then returned to the Army as a chaplain.

“I always had a drive to return to the Army to provide ministry to soldiers,” he reflects. “I didn’t believe I was being utilized in my gifts and talents. A chaplain does more ministry in their first initial assignment than some pastors do in a lifetime because they are exposed to so much.”

Criner recently served at Walter Reed Medical Center, ministering to troops transported from battle zones with traumatic brain injuries and other wounds.

“That was the most challenging and rewarding assignment I ever had,” he said. “We had airvacs three evenings a week. We had ministry teams in the lobby with gurneys lined up against the wall to receive them as they came off the bus. Sometimes the family was there before they arrived. We had an opportunity to minister to soldiers and their families and to provide hope when they were in greatest need of it.”

Chaplain (CPT) David Burris, 1st 108 Calvary Squadron of the Georgia National Guard, returned in March from a tour in Afghanistan where he spent many months traveling between the 20 or more operating bases where his men were stationed.

“After 9/11 I felt God call me back into ministry,” Burris said. “I did some research and realized there weren’t a lot of chaplains in the military and I heard about so many soldiers coming back spiritually and emotionally traumatized.”

In Jalalabad and surrounding provinces in Afghanistan, four soldiers from Burris’ battalion were killed within the first five months. In the last few months of their deployment, he was able to process what they’d all been through.

“It was a time for guys to really reflect on what they had experienced the first five months we were there,” he says. “To really come to terms with some of that before they went home to their wives and children.”

Now serving as a pastor for counseling at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., Burris is providing for critical needs on the home front, where soldiers continue to fight the battle to return to normalcy in their families.

“There are no unwounded service members in war,” said Keith Travis, NAMB’s team leader for chaplaincy. “This is includes the soldiers and the chaplains who ride out with them. This includes everybody who puts on the uniform. It’s essential for our churches to maintain contact with our chaplains and our soldiers, because the church is really the central focal point for our chaplains.”

Travis encourages churches to pray for chaplains and other service members — for safety, for peace for their families and for opportunities for service members to hear the gospel.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board. For information on Southern Baptist chaplains from your area, e-mail chaplains@namb.net.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
1/3/2011 2:31:00 PM by Adam Miller, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chaplain Struecker: Risk it all for Christ

January 3 2011 by Lauren Crane, SEBTS Communications

WAKE FOREST (BP) — As a chaplain in the U.S. Army, Major Jeff Struecker said he admires those — like Caleb — who are willing to risk it all.

The decorated chaplain, who was depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down” on the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, was the guest speaker in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).

Struecker spoke on the example of Caleb, preaching from Joshua 14:6-15 recounting Caleb’s request to move into the promised land.

“I’m a fan of men and women who are willing to risk it all for Jesus Christ,” Struecker said. Noting that Caleb and Joshua were the only two who had enough faith to desire to move into the Promised Land, Struecker said believers likewise must “practice faith if you’re going to learn to risk it all.”

SEBTS photo

Army chaplain Jeff Struecker, of “Black Hawk Down” fame, urges seminarians to pray, saying, “Give me the most difficult mission and I’ll go, knowing You will be faithful to me.”


This is what Joshua and Caleb had been doing since first seeking to go into the Promised Land against the advice of 10 of their companions, Struecker said. “Joshua and Caleb were the only two men who have the kind of faith to say, ‘Our God is big enough,’” the chaplain said. “You can’t say you’ve exercised your faith until you’ve stepped into the dark and risked it all.”

It was this faith that stirred Caleb — 40 years later — to confidently take on the God-sized task of, once again, making the request to go into and take the Promised Land, Struecker said, paraphrasing Caleb’s words to Joshua: “... if you will let me, my family and I will go into the land, and I know God — who has always been faithful — will be faithful to us in the future.”

“It is this that inspires me more than anything else,” Struecker said. “This man is saying, ‘Without God on my side, there is no way I’ll win, and with Him on my side, there’s no way I’ll lose.’”

In God’s army, Struecker said, all believers are “generals” under the command of the Great Commander, with certain expectations of actions in battle.

“He is calling you to take risks. If you think you want a ministry that is comfortable, you have something seriously wrong,” Struecker said in his Oct. 27, 2010, visit to SEBTS’ North Carolina campus. “Some of the most difficult mission fields are still out there and it’s my prayer you will say, ‘Give me the most difficult mission and I’ll go, knowing You will be faithful to me.’”

Because of this faith in God’s faithfulness and ability to conquer, Caleb received a God-sized reward, Struecker said. “God overwhelmingly gave him victory and ‘the land had rest from war,’” he said, quoting from verse 15.

“Because he was a man of faith, willing to bet it all on the Lord, there was really no battle at all and the city of Hebron belongs to Israel today,” Struecker said. “My prayer is that you would do something radical across the globe because of your faith in Jesus. Say, ‘Give me that hill country. Give me victory for our Savior Jesus Christ.’”

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
1/3/2011 2:27:00 PM by Lauren Crane, SEBTS Communications | with 0 comments



Study shows divide on Calvinism

January 3 2011 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Barna Group released findings in 2010 that said despite what “observers and journalists have described as ... a significant trend” in terms of a Calvinism movement, numbers of Calvinists among Protestant pastors are not greater today (31 percent) than a decade ago (32 percent).

The research includes four studies conducted from 2000 through 2010, each involving a minimum of 600 phone interviews with random, representative samples of clergy.

Barna’s results about the broader Christian community seemingly stand in stark contrast to reports released by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entities showing a surge in identity with five-point Calvinism in Southern Baptist life.

In 2007, the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research released findings that nearly 30 percent of recent seminary graduates (1998-2004) serving as church pastors identified themselves as Calvinists. Details about the sample methodology and size were not released and this study is not available for public review.

This compared to 10 percent of all pastors in the SBC who affirm the five points of Calvinism, according to a 2006 LifeWay Research study of a cross-section of 413 randomly selected SBC pastors. At the release of the research, Ed Stetzer who directs LifeWay Research, said the findings show “a growing influence” of Calvinism in SBC life and “certainly a growing influence in the graduates of our seminaries.”

The Barna study appears to show that despite what has been reported as a spike in the numbers of Calvinism adherents among recent SBC seminary graduates, there hasn’t been a groundswell in the broader Christian community over the last decade.

The numbers of those identifying themselves with Calvinism or Reformed Theology have held fairly steady around 31 percent.

However, the longitudinal study showed a much greater variation year-to-year in the number of pastors who identified themselves as either “Wesleyan” or “Arminian,” with a drop from 37 percent to 32 percent when comparing 2000 with 2010.

The Barna Group study did not define the theological identities, but left that interpretation to each participating pastor. Other findings released by Barna include:
  • On average, weekly adult attendance in Reformed or Calvinist churches grew from a median of 80 in 2000, to a median of 90 in 2010, an increase of about 13 percent. During that same period, weekly adult attendance in Wesleyan or Arminian churches increased 18 percent, growing from a median of 85 in 2000, to a median of 100 in 2010.
  • Among pastors 27 to 45 years old, 29 percent described themselves as Reformed compared to 34 percent who self-identified with the Wesleyan tradition. Those between 46 and 64 years old were evenly split theologically, with 34 percent claiming Reformed roots and 33 percent citing a Wesleyan perspective. Pastors 65 years-old-and-up were least likely to place themselves in either camp, with only 26 percent naming a Reformed background and an almost equal number, 27 percent, pointing to a Wesleyan foundation.
  • 47 percent of pastors of mainline churches (American Baptist Churches, Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and United Church of Christ) named their congregations as Wesleyan or Arminian compared to 29 percent of mainline pastors who chose a Reformed or Calvinist label.
  • Among pastors of non-mainline churches, 35 percent said they were Reformed or Calvinists, and 30 percent said they were Wesleyans or Arminians.
  • A greater number of Reformed/Calvinist pastors identified themselves as theologically liberal (17 percent) than did Wesleyan/Arminian pastors (13 percent).
  • Of the pastors who took part in the Barna study, 65 percent of Wesleyans/Arminians reported having completed seminary, and a statistically equivalent 62 percent of Reformed/Calvinists said they had, too.
(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
1/3/2011 2:24:00 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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