Whither Men? A Response to a Recent Barna Study on the Increase of Female Pastors in Protestant Churches -- By: Owen D. Strachan
Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 15:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Whither Men? A Response to a Recent Barna Study on the Increase of Female Pastors in Protestant Churches
Author: Owen D. Strachan
JBMW 15:1 (Spring 2010) p. 19
A Response to a Recent Barna Study
on the Increase of Female Pastors in Protestant Churches
Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding
Assistant Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
A recent Barna study, entitled “Number of Female Senior Pastors in Protestant Churches Doubles in Past Decade” and encompassing a survey of over 600 Protestant pastors, presents findings by the Barna Group that show that the percentage of female pastors in Protestant churches has doubled in the past decade.1 Now, says the group, 10 percent of all Protestant pastors are female, up from 5 percent between 1990 and 1999.
Though the group has not released data related to the study, it asserts that 58 percent of the women pastors minister in “mainline” churches. This crop of pastors is not young and is aging—the average age is 55, an increase from 50 some ten years ago. The women in question are well-trained, with 77 percent possessing a seminary degree (versus 66 percent of male Protestant pastors). Women ministers earn less than their male counterparts—roughly $45,000 per annum for women versus roughly $48,000 for men. One factor likely related to this statistic is that women pastors lead an average of 80 people in their churches, while men lead over 100 people in theirs. In general, however, church attendance in Protestant churches covered by the survey is dropping. The average Protestant church now has 101 people attending, as opposed to 109 a decade ago.
As noted above, the Barna Group has not released information related to the study. It nonetheless deserves analysis and commentary. What does this survey tell us about Protestant churches? Are there connections to be made in the data? Can we discern lessons for our churches today? In this brief essay, we will address these questions. As we will see, these are not esoteric matters, but rather issues of first importance that lead us to consider the very nature of the Lord’s church.
For our purposes, we zero in on the major swath of churches identified by the study that have called women as their pastor. The majority of these churches are found in the mainline. Many of us have dear friends and colleagues in the mainline. We know of biblically faithful churches within these denominations, assemblies and individuals courageously contending for the gospel, and we applaud and pray for those that are taking steps to confront compromise.2
With that qualification stated, the mainline, speaking generally, is awash in...
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