Most Protestant pastors in the U.S. see missions as a mandate for all Christians, while their parishioners aren’t as certain, a recent Barna Group report revealed.
A strong majority (85%) of pastors said that “missions is a mandate for all Christians,” while 12% said “missions is a calling for some Christians” and 3% said “missions is neither a calling nor a mandate.”
By comparison, among all U.S. Christian adults, 46% view missions as a mandate for all, 51% as a calling for some and 11% as neither calling nor mission.
Divergences were also found when respondents were asked about emphases in mission work.
Given the prompt, “It is more important that missions …” pastors and parishioners were asked to respond to seven sets of emphases. While there were differences between pastors and parishioners on all sets, the divergence in views was most notable for three.
Half of pastors agreed that “it is more important that missions focus on building relationships with communities,” while 17% said “it is more important that missions focus on addressing the needs of communities” and 32% were neutral.
By comparison, 40% of parishioners said addressing community needs was most important, while 33% said relationship-building and 27% were neutral.
Regarding meeting spiritual needs and physical needs, a majority (52%) of pastors said that meeting spiritual needs was most important, while 19% said it was most important to meet physical needs and 28% were neutral.
A plurality of parishioners (39%) said meeting physical needs was more important, while 34% said meeting spiritual needs was most important and 28% were neutral.
On the final set of prompts, a strong majority (77%) of pastors said spreading the gospel was most important, while only 15% said promoting justice and 8% were neutral.
Among parishioners, only 43% said spreading the gospel, while 37% said promoting justice and 20% were neutral.
“Overall, mission values differ considerably between the pulpit and the pew. Notably, Christians are also more likely than pastors to be neutral on many of these points, which could suggest they lack the information or guidance they need on the subject,” the report said.
The full report is available here. The margin of error for U.S. Christian adults is plus or minus two percentage points, while the margin of error for U.S. Protestant pastors is plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.