Survey Reveals Discipleship and Evangelism as Top Priorities of Protestant Churches

Published 20 February 2005  |  
The ministry priorities that Protestant churches have set themselves for the coming year have been revealed after a recent study by the Barna Group. However, in the survey there was no single objective that was chosen by more than 50% of the senior pastors surveyed, indicating a spread of direction of the various Protestant churches.

The survey revealed that the top three objectives were:
- Discipleship & Spiritual Growth (47%)
- Evangelism & Outreach (46%)
- Preaching (35%)

Other issues among the released list included; congregational care efforts such as visitation and counselling (24%), worship (19%); ministry to teenagers and young adults (17%); missions (15%); community service (15%); ministry to children (13%); and congregational fellowship (11%).

Alarmingly however, taking ministries to families (4%), and prayer (3%) were the lowest priorities listed.

In addition to this basic information, the survey also gave data in relation to white and black-led churches. This data showed that half of all "white-churches" nominated discipleship as their top priority, whilst 67% of black churches chose evangelism as their greatest task for the year.

The "Mainline" Protestant churches also gave discipleship as their top priority; however Baptist churches sided with the black churches and chose evangelism as the main objective.

Discipleship was a more popular choice among female pastors (65%), than with male pastors (46%), and evangelism was chosen as most popular more amongst the larger churches than the smaller churches.

George Barna of the Barna Group reflected, "There are certainly distinctions worthy of note, what really stands out is the consistency of the profile of priorities among pastors of vastly different church backgrounds and perspectives. Church size, regional location, doctrinal leaning, pastoral age and even pastoral gender produced surprisingly few major differences. This may reflect the similar emphasis that most pastors receive in their pastoral training. At the same time, it also suggests that it would be quite unlikely to see a significant shift in ministry priorities among the nation’s churches. What we have in place today is likely to remain relatively static for the foreseeable future, unless a confluence of leadership, events and resources emerges to alter the prevailing perspectives and habits of our Protestant churches."

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