In this political season, it’s impossible to get away from reports of the latest opinion survey or political poll. One candidate is up, another is down, and so it goes. In the absence of any meaningful discussion of issues and qualifications, the media turn political races into horseraces, with progress measured in polling data.
Of course, politics is only one area where polls are prevalent. No matter what the social issue, there’s a survey out there measuring what Aunt Gertrude and I have to say about it. Now religion is one of the hottest topics for the poll-meisters, with folks like George Gallup and George Barna (are all pollsters named George?) gathering and publishing reams of data about church-hoppers (“What really bauses a Baptist to become an Episcopalian?” — besides the happy hour, of course), about attitudes toward doctrine and practice (“Which theory of the atonement best reflects your attitudes at this moment, madam?”), and so on.
I’ll admit that, up to now, I’ve been a junkie for all those religion survey results. I read all the Barna books, I subscribe to Gallup’s religion research newsletter, but this time they’ve gone too far.
According to a recent Gallup Religion Poll, a substantial percentage of Americans believe preachers should be paid small salaries. In fact, 37 percent believe that ministers should be paid less than $30,000 annually. (The actual average salary is $21,940; with housing allowance and other benefits it works out to $37,260, according to the May 1992 issue of Gallup’s PRRC Emerging Trends.) In the same survey, more than 60 percent of the respondents thought that other professionals (like physicians and lawyers) should earn more than $40,000. (I suspect there were a lot more lawyers and doctors surveyed than preachers. Just a hunch.)
I’ve dealt with enough deacons in my day to understand that some folks begrudge every penny the parson receives. Paul may have believed that “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” but he never served on the Finance Committee.
Now those folks have statistical data to show there are more of them out there. What if they get together and form a political action committee … start picketing denominational conventions … get elected to the Budget Task Force at our churches? The implications are frightening.
There was just one good bit of news in the survey. It seems that more than half (51%) of the teenagers surveyed consider the clergy to be among the most underpaid professions.
It’s good to know that we’re finally seeing some positive results from all that investment in youth ministry.

Share This On:

About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

Related Posts

This time they’ve gone too far.
These days we seem to be inundated with surveys. It’s understandable in election years — after all, if politicians didn’t have frequent surveys to consult, how would they know what they believe?
I can even understand market surveys, in which companies try to determine public preferences for certain products, brands, and so on. I’ll be happy to tell them which kinds of soap, detergent, or frozen dinners my family uses regularly. And, frankly, I’d really like to be included in a Nielsen television survey — I’d like to have at least a small part in cancelling a few series.
But when those pesky survey takers enter the church sanctuary, it’s time to call a halt.
According to Evangelical Press News Service, a London research institute has done some surveys of regular church-goers in Great Britain. The results are not pretty — at least not for the preachers who have to face these crowds each and every Sunday.
According to the survey, 42 percent of regular church-goers fall asleep in church. I assume they mean on occasion; the thought of four out of every ten parishioners stretched out to catch a few winks each Sunday is a little too much to bear.
And that’s not all. More than a third of those surveyed said they check their watch in church every Sunday. And 10 percent indicated they put their watch to their ear and shake it, thinking it must have stopped.
Can you imagine facing that congregation on a weekly basis? Half the church is fast asleep, another third is keeping tabs on the progress of Mickey’s long hand and short hand, and one out of every ten is shaking the quartz out of his watch. It’s enough to make you want to go into the insurance business.
As if these nefarious surveyers hadn’t done enough damage to our collective self-image, they also found that more than 65 percent of British church-goers occasionally wish they had stayed in bed. (No big deal there — I’ll bet 95 percent of British preachers occasionally feel the same way!)
What surprised me is that 4 percent of churchgoers say they always wish they had stayed in bed. So why in the world are they sitting in the pews at all? I’m willing to bet this group includes those same characters who are always shaking their watches during the sermon. We know just who they are — half of them are deacons/board members in our churches, too.
Next time I see somebody shaking a watch during my sermon, I’m going to shake an offering plate right back at them. That ought to wake a few of them up.

Share This On:

About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

Related Posts