Poll shows pastors priorities

For those of you old enough to remember the show “This is Your Life” and for those young enough to have only heard the phrase, where does your church fit in with these priorities? Is your congregation’s priorities in line with yours or are you struggling to find common ground?

The Rev. Molly Simpson puts a high priority on hospitality at her church.

She wants people to feel welcome. That way visitors are more likely to return, she said.wilderness

“Also, kids are excited to be there, and parents feel comfortable to leave their children with people who can minister to them on their level.”

The proof is in the results.

When the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection’s Olathe, Kan., branch started six years ago, attendance was 300 to 350. Now it is 900, Simpson said.

Simpson was considering the recent Barna Group survey of 614 Protestant pastors across the country on how they plan to improve their churches in the next year. The California-based organization that researches spiritual topics gave the pastors a choice of 12 activities and asked them to rate their priorities.

At the top was assessing their church’s vision and mission. Fifty-nine percent were definite and 88 percent were definite or probable.

At the bottom was finding a search firm to help hire the right people. Just 2 percent of the pastors said they definitely planned to do this, and only 5 percent were definite or probable.

The second priority was assessing their church’s reputation in the community (38 percent were definite and 72 percent definite or probable), followed by measuring the demographic and spiritual needs of their community (31 percent definite and 62 percent definite or probable).

The others in order of importance were:

* Be more focused on safety and security issues at your church. (25 percent definite)
* Revamp your budgeting and spending process. (25 percent definite)
* Conduct an assessment of spiritual transformation in your church. (22 percent definite)
* Invest in facilities and equipment for children. (22 percent definite)
* Invest in audio and visual equipment. (19 percent definite)
* Invest in facilities and equipment for teens. (18 percent definite)
* Invest in technology and digital media. (18 percent definite)
* Work to help increase giving. (6 percent definite)

Church of the Resurrection’s Simpson was surprised that “technology and digital media” were so low, given this will become more important for the church of the future. But it’s hard to know whether churches have already made investments in those areas or whether they feel that is too far out of their financial reach.

She was encouraged that “assessing your church’s vision and mission” was No. 1.

“The rest don’t matter if you don’t have vision and mission,” she said. “We have to change our thinking before we change our behavior. You have to ask why we are doing what we’re doing.”

It also surprised her that assessing the church’s reputation in the community was No. 2.

“My thought would be that you start with figuring out the needs in the community and try to meet those needs and then your reputation will follow.”

David Kinnaman, who directed the study, said: “Most pastors are open to changing their ministries, yet many of them are struggling with the foundational questions of mission and vision.

“In other words, they want a clear direction to pursue, not necessarily just more ministry resources, like facilities, equipment, technology or ministry tools.”

As far as churches’ concern with their reputation, Kinnaman said, “In an era of skepticism toward the institutional church, these leaders seem to recognize that the most effective churches are those that are aware of needs and active in their communities.”

The study found that the size of the church played a role in the pastors’ priorities, but not as much as one might expect. Most of the priorities were of equal importance to small (fewer than 100 adult attendees) and larger churches (more than 250 adults).

“Yet small-church pastors were less inclined to want community demographics, less focused on safety and security issues, less likely to change budgeting and less inclined to invest in technology.

“Midsized churches (100 to 250 adults) were more likely than average to plan on investing in equipment for children, youth and teenagers as well as upgrading their audio and visual tools.

“Large churches were more likely than average to want to measure demographics, revamp financial processes and work with fundraising consultants. These leaders were less inclined than average to purchase audio-visual equipment, perhaps figuring that their current set of tools (is) adequate for now.”

The age of the pastor also accounted for some differences in priorities.

Pastors younger than 45 were more interested in technology and digital media, while those between the ages of 45 and 63 were more interested in fundraising help.

A higher percentage of pastors 64 and older were more interested in measuring spiritual formation, the study showed.*

Ok Pastor, have you asked yourself the hard questions by now? Have you asked yourself:

* What are MY priorities – for my life, my family, my witness?
* Do these priorities line up with my congregations priorities?
* Am I leading by example or just going through the motions?

Wherever you are in this poll, I am praying for you today………..

*Poll shows pastors priorities – .Your life – bnd.com.

* If you are a member of the clergy serving in a church (or the spouse of one!) and are interested in sharing your blog, please leave a comment so I can get in touch!

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