Common Experiences of Pastoral Calling
Being called to ministry, as Terry Linhart explains, is “a journey of confirmation with others, with circumstances and with opportunities.” For The State of Pastors report, produced in partnership with Pepperdine University, Barna examined individual perceptions of a sense of calling—and, for the most part, pastors remain very assured in their chosen profession. Three in 10 report they are “just as confident” today as when they first entered pastoral ministry (31%), and two-thirds say they are even “more confident” now than then (66%). What else did we learn about being drawn toward vocational ministry? This infographic details when leaders discerned such a call and some of the life experiences they might have shared before entering this field.
Longtime researcher George Barna, whose work is now based at the recently-founded Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, released another installment in his findings that reveal the erosion of the Judeo-Christian worldview in the United States. The new report shows that only 51% of Americans consider God to be "all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect and just creator of the universe who still rules the world today.” In 1991, 73% of Americans believed that to be true.
The latest research from the 12-part American Worldview Inventory also documents that 44% of survey respondents agreed with the idea that when Jesus was on the Earth, in the flesh, He was both fully divine and fully human and therefore committed sins like any other person. Only 41% held the biblical perspective that Christ lived a sinless life and was both fully man and fully God.
"Over half of all adults—52%—contend that 'the Holy Spirit is not a living entity, but merely a symbol of God’s power, presence or purity,'" according to the survey and that "most shockingly, most Americans—56%—believe that 'Satan is not merely a symbol of evil but is a real spiritual being and influences human lives.'”
Nearly half of those surveyed who claim to believe in a God who is an influential spiritual being are not fully confident that He even exists.
“The spiritual noise in our culture over the last few decades has confused and misled hundreds of millions of people," Barna said in a statement to The Christian Post. "The message to churches, Christian leaders, and Christian educators is clear: we can no longer assume that people have a solid grasp of even the most basic biblical principles."
Whereas 30 years ago, people spent time thinking and learning about God, today culture has become increasingly self-focused, Barna noted.
"We've transitioned from a people who upheld the existence of absolute moral truth to a nation that rejects moral absolutes. The result has been a seminal shift in our collective focus, from other to self, and from absolute truths to conditional truths. That helps to explain why the ‘doesn’t/don’t know/don’t care’ population, regarding the existence of God, has mushroomed from 8 percent to 32 percent in just 30 years," he said.
The State of Pastors
How Are Our Spiritual Leaders Doing?
The challenges of pastoring in the 21st century are significant. Are spiritual leaders ready, willing, and able? The State of Pastors contains the findings of a comprehensive, whole-life assessment of U.S. pastors, commissioned by Pepperdine University.
The State of Pastors reveals where church leaders are most in need of healing and encouragement, and offers hopeful counsel for pastors (and those who love them) that are seeking greater health as they continue to answer God’s call.
We interviewed pastors on:
- Their own mental, physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual well-being
- The health of their relationships with family and church members
- Their ministry’s overall health and effectiveness
- How they are received as a leader by their local community
- Their support system, including mentors, friends, and fellow ministers
- How well their gifts align with their pastoral responsibilities