FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Pastors Place Higher Value on Winning Souls Over Raising Funds, New Study Reveals Barna and Alpha USA seeing renewed interest in outreach, evangelism.
BANNOCKBURN, IL. — Despite a struggling economy that has seen record numbers of churches facing foreclosure, American pastors are more concerned about outreach and evangelism than getting congregants to give more, a national study from noted research firm Barna Group reveals.
To come up with the findings, Barna conducted 600 telephone interviews with a representative sample of senior pastors of Protestant and Catholic churches from within the 48 continental states. U.S. pastors were asked, in an open-ended manner, about the areas they would most like to see develop or grow in the next year when thinking about their church or ministry. Nearly half (46%) said they are most interested in outreach and evangelism. Only 3% mentioned stewardship or giving.
“I was amazed and very encouraged by this report,” says Gerard Long, president of leading evangelistic organization Alpha USA, which commissioned the study. More than 4,300 churches nationally are using the Alpha course and many are seeing their congregations transformed in the areas of evangelism, discipleship and leadership.
That pastors who were surveyed put evangelism ahead of financial concerns is especially noteworthy given the current economic climate, Long adds. Nearly 200 religious facilities have been foreclosed on by banks since 2008, up from eight during the previous two years and virtually none in the decade before that.
Long says that the the new Barna study “reflects a changing trend in the church in America. Jesus taught and lived a ‘Go!’ model for outreach. People want to see a more missional side to church, making an impact on society.”
Barna also reports that 32% of pastors said that they wanted to grow a specific area of ministry. Of the various ministries named, those serving youth and children were noted most often. In fact, one-half of the pastors who mentioned a specific ministry said youth was an area they would like to grow.
As evidence of this trend, Long points to a sharp increase in the use of Alpha’s youth curriculum (62%) and college campus curriculum (50%) during the last year. Long calls Alpha “one of the best kept secrets in the church,” but the secret is getting out.
Bishop Keith Jenkins of Open Door Evangelistic World Ministries in Minneapolis, Minn., says that “Alpha caused a whole paradigm shift in our church. People who once just sat around got active and got involved in the church and in soul winning. Alpha brought excitement to our church overall.”
About the Alpha Course
More than 2 million people across the U.S. have taken the Alpha course, where people explore Christianity at their own pace in a pressure-free environment. To learn more about how Alpha can help your church to reach your community and transform your congregation, visit www.alphausa.org.
For a copy of the Barna study or interviews with Alpha USA president Gerard Long, contact Janine Longoria at email@example.com or 224-588-8526.
Download press release as a PDF.
Download press release as Word document.