In a recent report based on a national survey of Protestant pastors, George Barna indicates that “only half of the country’s Protestant pastors-51 percent-have a biblical worldview. Defining such a worldview as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize), the researcher produced data showing there are significant variations by denominational affiliation and other demographics.
“The most important point,” Barna argued, “is that you can’t give people what you don’t have. The low percentage of Christians who have a biblical worldview is a direct reflection of the fact that half of our primary religious teachers and leaders do not have one. In some denominations, the vast majority of clergy do not have a biblical worldview, and it shows up clearly in the data related to the theological views and moral choices of people who attend those churches.”
The Barna report asserts that Southern Baptists have the highest percentage (71%) of pastors with a biblical worldview, while United Methodists have the lowest (27%). The report argues that, “The largest gap related to gender. Whereas 53 percent of male pastors have a biblical worldview, the same can be said for just 15 percent of female pastors. Overall, just 6 percent of all Protestant senior pastors are women.”
What’s the impact on the pew? Barna indicates, “More than six out of every seven congregants in the typical church do not share the biblical worldview of his or her pastor even when he or she has one. This intimates that merely preaching good sermons and offering helpful programs does not enable most believers to develop a practical and scriptural theological base to shape their lives. Our research among people who have a biblical worldview shows that it is a long-term process that requires a lot of purposeful activity: teaching, prayer, conversation, accountability and so forth. Based on our correlations of worldview and moral behavior, we can confidently argue that if the 51 percent of pastors who have a biblical worldview were to assist their congregants strategically and relentlessly in adopting such a way of interpreting and responding to life, the impact on our churches, families and society at-large would be enormous.”