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American Christians Are More Likely to Call Their Pastor a 'Friend,' Barna Survey Finds

  • Amanda Casanova

    Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and…

  • Updated Oct 14, 2019

A new study found that American Christians are more likely to consider the lead pastor of their church to be a “friend” rather than a “mentor.”

The Barna Group report, released earlier this month, was called “Do Christians Consider Their Pastors to Be Friends?”

The study revealed that 20 percent of participants said they spoke or regularly met with their pastor outside of weekly worship services and other church events, the Christian Post reports

That 20 percent was then asked to describe the relationship to the pastor with 50 percent of respondents calling the pastor a “friend.”

Nineteen percent said they called the pastor a “mentor,” while 13 percent called the pastor a “counselor” and 11 percent called the pastor a “teacher.”

“Though most congregants surveyed admitted to not interacting with the lead pastor or other church staff outside of church, there is a small, yet significant number of constituents who do—and even regard their pastor as a friend,” noted Barna.

“Exactly half of Christian respondents and churched adults (50% each) call their pastor ‘friend,’ as do 46% of practicing Christians. The lack of difference in percentages across these groups suggests that, while church attendance or faith practice increases the likelihood of getting to meet and know one’s pastor in the first place, friendship might naturally occur once those interactions come about.”

Barna surveyed more than 800 self-identified Christians living in the U.S. The survey also took into account another report, “The State of Pastors,” which included some 1,000 responses from Christian adults.

Other findings of the study:

-       Protestants (48 percent) are more likely than Catholics (27 percent) to meet with their pastor outside of church

-       28 percent said their pastor often attends community or social events outside of the church

-       64 percent responded that they have a positive view of their pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.

Photo courtesy: Eber Devine/Unsplash