Pastors serve their congregations and communities in a variety of ways, but perhaps the most notable and recognizable way—and the part of the job pastors tell Barna they love the most—is through the function of preaching.
This article explores pastors’ confidence and concerns around preaching, while also offering a glimpse into a new channel on Barna Access Plus that was created to help pastors strengthen their preaching skills.
Most Pastors Are Very Confident in Their Preaching, But Concerns Are Still Present
Barna data from a recent pastor survey show that over two in three U.S. Protestant senior pastors (67%) say they feel “very confident” about their preaching right now. One in three (32%) is “somewhat confident” while just one percent is not confident.
Compared to when they first started pastoring, nine in 10 pastors (90%) say they are at least somewhat more confident in their preaching ability, while the remainder (10%) says their confidence is “about the same” or is less than when they first began their tenure in ministry.
While many pastors are confident in their ability to preach, there are still a significant number who recognize room for growth in this area—just half (49%) rate the preaching and teaching at their church as “very strong,” a number that decreases significantly (40%) among pastors who have considered quitting ministry in the past year. Additionally, pastors also list a number of struggles and concerns that they have around preaching, including feeling unsure “if my preaching is helping people grow as disciples of Jesus” (48%) and “that the congregation is receiving and absorbing what I preach” (46%).
Preaching is a manifestation of how pastors lead their congregants and communities—and the desire to have more insights and tools to lead well in this time has been expressed to Barna.
Barna's response, after years of prayerful consideration and thoughtful dreaming, is the Preaching Channel inside Barna Access Plus. This brand-new channel has been launched with one goal in mind—to offer practical knowledge and advice to pastors who want to clarify their message and strengthen their preaching and teaching in complex times.
Here’s what pastors can expect to find in the preaching channel:
- Barna Mini Masterclass: A 10-episode series, published weekly on Tuesdays through July 2022, features lessons from guest pastors including Mark Sayers, Rich Villodas and Heather Thompson Day, among others. Each episode of the Mini Masterclass dives into a specific topic (preaching as a non-anxious presence, preaching deeper sermons, preaching to an online audience, etc.) to offer pastors practical tips and steps to teach well in various areas.
- Practical Resources: Barna reports, studies, field guides, slide decks, articles and video interviews curated through the preaching and teaching lens.
- Weekly Stats for Sermons: Specific data points offered each Friday paired with fresh angles and ideas for how to use the data in your upcoming sermons (launching late summer 2022).
Interested in a sneak peek of the Mini Masterclass series? Check out this short clip, which offers a glimpse into Mark Sayer’s lesson on preaching as a non-anxious presence.
And this is just the beginning! We have exciting plans for the expansion on this channel, so stay tuned as new content continues to roll out on Barna Access Plus.
Becoming a more clear and confident communicator can help pastors lead their congregants well in uncertain times. It is Barna’s hope that the resources offered in the Preaching Channel will continually assist church leaders in refining and strengthening their preaching ability.
About the Research
March 2022 Pastor Survey data: Barna Group conducted this online survey among 510 Protestant Senior Pastors from March 10–16, 2022. Participants are all members of Barna Group’s Church Panel. Minimal weighting has been used to ensure the sample is representative based on denomination, region and church size.
Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.
© Barna Group, 2022