Ministry Today | Serving and empowering church leaders

Americans' vague belief system, Ambivalent absolutes, Pastor's unusual flock, NRB sacks new leader, Innovator nominees, Worship seminars launched, and much more

Americans' 'Vaguely Bible-Related' Faith
By Eric Tiansay

Americans' faith is "only vaguely Bible-related." That's the verdict by a Barna Research Group (BRG) report, which shatters the notion that America is "a nation of Christians."

The study found that although most Americans may claim to be Christian, less than half of them are actually saved. Furthermore, only a minority of those who are born again hold to biblical values that impact their lives.

While only 15 percent of the 4,000 polled by the BRG were agnostic, atheist or belonged to another faith, there was "enormous diversity" of belief among churchgoers.

"Many Americans have developed a form of faith that is comforting...while the stereotypical, Bible-based Christian faith is more of an anomaly than it is typical," the survey said.

BRG president George Barna said the study showed greater diversity within the Christian church than was commonly suspected. "If nothing else, this indicates that people's faith is a process in motion--an ever-changing series of views and behaviors that we rely upon, to differing degrees, to shape our worldview and lifestyle," he said.

Those who believed in salvation through Christ, but were most likely to take their cues on moral issues from sources other than the Bible, made up 33 percent of the population, BRG found.
Source: Barna Research Group

Believers Reject Moral Absolutes

An alarming survey by the Barna Research Group (BRG) has discovered that many Christians are ambivalent toward moral absolutes.

"When a majority of Christian well as three out of four born-again teens proudly cast their vote for moral relativism, the church is in trouble," BRG president George Barna said. "Continuing to preach more sermons and teach more Sunday school classes...won't solve the problem since most...don't accept the basis of the principles being taught in those venues."

The report revealed that among all adults, only 22 percent believed in moral absolutes, while 64 percent thought truth was always relative to the person's situation. Among interviewees identified as being born again, just 32 percent believed in moral absolutes.

The picture was bleaker among teens questioned. Just 6 percent believed in absolute truth, while 83 percent of all teens thought moral truth depended on the circumstances.

Only 9 percent of teens identified as being born again accepted the idea of absolute truth, compared with 4 percent of other teens.

Only 26 percent of those interviewed who were born again based their ethical and moral decision-making on the Bible.
Source: Barna Research Group


NRB's New Leader Ousted

The new head of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), a Christian political force in elections and policy-making, was forced to resign because of his desire to depoliticize the organization.

During NRB's annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., in February, its board of directors voted to accept the resignation of president Wayne Pederson, who had offered to leave after he said in an interview he felt that the group had become increasingly characterized with the religious right. His remarks riled the likes of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and conservative preacher Jerry Falwell, who threatened to leave if the organization changed direction.

NRB chairman Glenn Plummer said that some felt Pederson's comments had "illegitimized their ministries." Plummer added that the controversy had been "a painful time, but one in which healing can come." Pederson said he was sad and disappointed to leave, but "would be sadder still if a rift resulted from this situation." At press time, the 1,500-member NRB had not appointed an interim president.
Source: Charisma News Service, The (Nashville) Tennessean


Company Researches Pastor Burnout

Pastoral burnout is a big problem, but often a mystery for American churches.

The pastoral ministries department at Focus on the Family (FotF) receives 400 to 500 calls monthly from troubled ministers. "About 70 [percent] to 80 percent of those pastors are either in burnout or on the very edge of it," FotF pastoral counselor Eldon Fry said.

But help is on the way through the Lilly Endowment, which wants to study and prevent pastor burnout. The major pharmaceutical company is spending $25 million to discover ways to help pastors maintain energy and enthusiasm in their jobs.

"There needs to be some clarity in terms of the issue and what are some of the causes that may be producing the burnout in pastors' lives," Fry said.
Source: Citizen magazine


Minister Shepherds Unusual Flock

Move over Noah, a Pensacola, Fla., minister shepherds his own unusual flock. Ross Knight, 51, is a pastor at New Covenant Christian Ministries, but he and his wife, Sharon, also take care of about 200 animals on their R&S Family Ranch.

Four years ago as their seven children, who range from 12 to 25, began leaving the nest, Knight found 12 acres for an entirely different flock. "I finally decided it was time for daddy to do some of the things he liked, and we started boarding horses," he said. "We dreamed of having a ranch one day. We felt led of God to open up a petting farm for children."

From their first horse, they have been adding common and exotic animals, including ducks, chickens, rabbits, llamas, ostriches, peafowls, emus and swans. In addition to birthday parties, weddings and picnics at the ranch, the Knights take some of the animals to day-care centers, schools, nursing homes and churches, as well as live nativity scenes at Christmastime.
Source: The Pensacola News Journal


'Seminars for Worship' Launched

Pastors have a new tool to help usher their congregations into worship. Integrity Music, a recording label and song publisher, in partnership with pastor Jack Hayford launched Seminars4Worship, a worship education resource for pastors and worship leaders.

"As never before, there is a releasing of the work of God in worship, bringing spiritual reformation and renewal, with a divine grace attending the church at large where worship comes alive--in understanding as well as practice," said Hayford, founder of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif.

"Seminars4Worship is designed to strengthen pastors personally and theologically, while giving them practical tools to lead their congregations in worshiping God," he continued.

Eight seminars are planned this year, featuring Hayford's teaching as well as several worship leaders, including Don Moen. Registration is available either online ( or by calling (800) 239-7000.
Source: Charisma News Service


Nominate an Innovator

It's hard to believe almost two decades have whizzed by since the first issue of Ministries Today hit the presses, but it's true--the January/February 2003 issue will mark the 20th anniversary of our publication for pastors and church leaders. And we plan on celebrating.

Our editorial team is planning some special reports for this issue, including an exclusive forum made up of some of today's most insightful leaders on what the next decade of ministry will require of the church and of pastors, as well as what they see as the top emerging trends that we dare not ignore.

We also will be launching a new, annual feature that will profile and honor innovative ministries that are doing something particularly effective or unique in their communities. We believe it will be a big encouragement to those of us in the pastoral community to read about everyday pastors who have faced unusual ministry challenges and overcome them.

Do you know any ministry innovators? We want to know about them. E-mail the editor of Ministries Today, Bill Shepson, at

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