Sunday, February 21, 2010

Getting the stats right...?

If you look on the Net for the phrase, 1500 ministers leave the ministry every month, you'll find result after result saying that this is a sad statistic and what can be done about it. (This is a US stat, of course.)

The other stat that seems to go along with it says 7000 churches close each year.

The only problem is, no one seems able to quote where these stats come from.

They're ascribed variously to George Barna and co, or Focus on the Family, in the latter case dating back to 1998. According to a rough calculation this would mean 18,000 ministers were leaving the ministry every year, and, if the 1998 figure is correct, 216,000 ministers would now be ex-ministers. 84,000 churches would now have closed. (Though in some versions of the stats, 4,000 churches open each year!)

Can these figures really be true?

I would dearly like to see the original figures, find out who they came from and what they were based on. In the meantime, this post will no doubt add to the search results on Google, almost all of which assume without any reference that these stats are correct.

Update...check out the comment from the Barna Group that appeared after this was posted yesterday.


George Barna said...

George Barna here. The numbers ascribed to me or The Barna Group regarding the number of ministers who leave the ministry each year are not actually from me or my company. We do not conduct such research, never have. The sad reality of our culture and the Internet these days is that "facts" are assigned to someone with crediblity and are rarely checked out. I have absolutely no idea how many clergy dropout of the fold, for whatever reason.

Mike Crowl said...

Many thanks for taking the time to confirm that the Barna Group isn't the initiator of this 'information'. I suspect that these 'stats', like so much other stuff floating around in people's heads or on the Internet, is based on someone's idea of what might be happening, or on minimal and weak research.