A new study from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has found that just 37% of Christian pastors in the United States have a biblical worldview, demonstrating that spiritual awakening is "needed just as desperately in our pulpits as in the pews," according to the pollster.
The nationwide study of about 1,000 Christian pastors found that just slightly more than a third (37%) of the U.S. pastors hold a biblical worldview. The majority (62%) possess a hybrid worldview known as Syncretism.
The study, released Thursday, showed that 41% of senior pastors — as compared to 28% of associate pastors — have a biblical worldview. Further, only 13% of teaching pastors and 12% of children's and youth pastors have a biblical worldview.
The lowest level of biblical worldview was among executive pastors, with only 4% of them holding consistently biblical beliefs and behaviors.
The research included 54 worldview-related questions, and it found that only 47% of the pastors have a biblical worldview regarding family and the value of life; 44% concerning issues related to God, creation, and history; 43% in relation to personal faith practices; 43% when it comes to matters of sin, salvation, and one's relationship with God; 40% pertaining to human character and human nature; and 40% when it comes to measures of lifestyle, personal behavior, and relationships.
The study, however, noted that not having a biblical worldview doesn't mean adherence to a competing worldview, such as secular humanism or Marxism.
"In fact, less than 1% of pastors embody a worldview other than Biblical Theism (i.e., the biblical worldview)," researchers said. "Instead, their prevailing worldview is best described as Syncretism, the blending of ideas and applications from a variety of holistic worldviews into a unique but inconsistent combination that represents their personal preferences. More than six out of 10 pastors (62%) have a predominantly syncretistic worldview."
George Barna, the director of research at the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, said that a person's worldview primarily develops before the age of 13, then goes through a period of refinement during their teens and twenties.
"From a worldview perspective, a church's most important ministers are the children's pastor and the youth pastor," he said. "Discovering that seven out of every eight of those pastors lack a biblical worldview helps to explain why so few people in the nation's youngest generations are developing a heart and mind for biblical principles and ways of life, and why our society seems to have run wild over the last decade, in particular."
In conclusion, Barna said, "God is in the transformation business. Pastors who are willing to allow Him to transform their thinking and behavior can emerge from that process as a powerful example of what can happen when one's heart, mind and soul are surrendered to God. It certainly seems that if America is going to experience a spiritual revival, that awakening is needed just as desperately in our pulpits as in the pews."
Another study released by the Barna Group last month showed that more pastors now say they considered quitting their jobs compared to a year ago, driven to despair by stress, loneliness, political divisions and other worries like their church being in decline.
The share of pastors who have seriously considered quitting being in full-time ministry within the last year increased from 29% in 2021 to 42% in March of this year.
Michael Youssef, pastor of the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia, recently urged pastors to stand firm on biblical truth as many churches are capitulating to woke theology in an effort to seem inclusive and “seeker-friendly."
“The Apostle Paul tells us we’re going to see young people fall by the wayside, but don’t give up on the Gospel, don’t compromise on the truth,” the 73-year-old Egyptian-American pastor told CP.
“We’re seeing deconstruction, pastors watering down the Gospel, and other things going on. I realized this is a time for me, at the age of 73, to leave a legacy to the younger generation of pastors. And it's not really my legacy; it's the Word of God, it’s the Apostle Paul's legacy."
To discern when a pastor is a false teacher who promotes a watered-down theology versus a biblically-sound one who holds to the ancient truths found in the Scriptures, Youssef urged churchgoers to ask: “Do they lift up Jesus and the cross of Christ as the only hope for salvation, eternal life, and calling men to repent and women to repent of their sins and turn to the Lord? Or do they simply preach affirmations?”