Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Spiritual Example

eNCDine | The Pastor As Spiritual Example

Petr Cincala wrote an article in the Natural Church Development (NCD) blog that was troubling to me. One of the questions in the Natural Church Development survey asks the respondent to mark on a scale of 0 ("to a very great extent") to 4 ("not at all") whether they agree with the following statement: "Our pastor is a spiritual example to me". In his article, Petr compared the average mean of the survey results on this question across continents, countries, and denominations; and then demonstrated that this question has a profound correlation to the local church's overall health.

Guess which denomination was the lowest on the average mean? It was the Roman Catholic church (41.9%). The second lowest? That would be the Seventh-day Adventist Church at 46.4%. The highest on the average mean was the Foursquare Church at 54.9%.

My first thought when I saw these results was Ouch! My second was Ok, now how do we fix it? I must confess, I've known these statistics for a few months now, but I still have only a few rough ideas on how to go about improving the situation.

First, I need to look at myself. Am I living an authentic Christian experience in front of my congregation, or am I putting on a show. Maybe churches want to see a pastor who has it all together, puts on a smile as easily as his necktie, and goes around solving everyone else's problems. But my hunch is that what churches need to see is a pastor who struggles with some of the same things they do and yet gets the victory through Christ's power, not his own.

Second, I think perhaps we need to look at the way we structure the training, hiring, and firing of pastors. Both the Adventist and the Catholic churches have a strongly academic approach to training pastors, and both have a structure in which an organization other than the local church/parish has the ultimate decision over who their pastor will be. These factors may be present in other denominations as well (the third-lowest Lutheran Church actually had the closest score to the Adventist Church), but it is my hunch that they play a role in my denomination's poor performance.

I guess I don't really have the answers on this one. What do you think could be done about this situation? Is your pastor a spiritual example to you? Are you a spiritual example to your church?


  1. How did the Methodists do...they have a structure much like ours. I think that there are a few other "connectional" churches like us as well...

    As far as education goes most mainline denominations require education like we do. For example look at the United Methodists or the Presbyterians. It is interesting talking to my Presbyterian classmats who talk about the educational hurdles that they have to jump to get into ministry...You don't only have to have a MDiv, you have to have courses in certain subjects. And at the end of the whole thing you are going to have a interview and test that includes greek and Hebrew...Man...

    But the Baptists and Pentecostals usually have the lowest academic requirements.

    I could not find the study, but I wonder if Charismatic-Pentecostal denominations rank higher whatever their educational requirments and/or ecclesiastical structure...
    I would also like to see how other churches that look a little like our structure (liek methodists) ranked on the study as well...

    Am I looking in the wrong place, how do I find the study?

    I think it largely baptists

  2. Click on the link at the very beginning of the article.

  3. I don't think this is a problem, or it shouldn't be for Adventists, anyway. Our theology is strictly biblical, and we counsel that Jesus, and not the local pastor, or the president of the conference, or anyone else, is our example.

    The reason why the Catholic church scores so lowly on this question is exactly opposite: they claim that their priests ARE Jesus, whereas the truth is somewhat different. Whether their congregation disagrees openly is another matter.

    It's not broken, so don't try to fix it - please!!!

    Preach Jesus, raise Him up and all men will be drawn to Him. Don't give me any of this "natural" stuff - the natural man cannot understand the things of God.