Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Duane M. Covrig

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Timothy Erdel

Abstract

Problem. The Bible gives significant direction and insight concerning financial stewardship. One of the roles of pastors is to teach biblical principles, including these financial concepts and practices. While there have been a few studies on pastoral preaching and teaching on financial matters, no known studies examine factors related to pastoral preaching on finances in smaller evangelical communities. This study focused on senior pastors in the Missionary Church, and factors that predicted their frequency in preaching and teaching about financial topics. The Missionary Church was selected because its five theological traditions (Anabaptism, pietism, Wesleyan-holiness movement, Keswickian-holiness movement, and evangelicalism) value personal faith commitment including stewardship. This promised to provide insight into the factors that influence pastoral preaching in this important area of Christian living.

Method. Because of the exploratory nature of this study and the desire to see how evangelical pastors compared to previous studies, a survey design was chosen. Senior, preaching pastors from the Missionary Church denomination in the United States and Puerto Rico were sampled. Surveys were personally distributed to pastors at 15 district meetings between October 2011 and June 2012. English or Spanish versions of the surveys and consent forms were used. The survey data were entered into SPSS version 19 and analyzed in three different ways. First, descriptive statistics were used to analyze 14 demographic questions. Second, exploratory factor analysis was performed on the 28 independent variables to determine if there was empirical support for the personal, institutional, and social constructs of the study. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was chosen as the extraction method (observing loadings > .50) using oblique rotation with pattern matrix. Lastly, binary logistic regression was used with Factor 1, Factor 2, and 11 regrouped demographic variables to identify predictors of preaching on financially related topics.

Results. Of the total number of senior, preaching pastors in the Missionary Church denomination in 2012 (N = 464), 67.9% participated in the study (N = 315). Most of the respondents were between the ages of 40 and 64 (71.8%). White/Caucasian (64.1%) and Hispanic/Latino (24.1%) were the two largest ethnic groups. An overwhelming majority of the pastors were married (96.5%) and 67% had at least one child living at home. About half the surveyed pastors had churches with fewer than 100 people (54.3%), while 32.3% had weekly attendance between 100-249. Most pastors (73%) reported a bachelor’s degree or above, with 81% of pastors indicating they attended a college with a Christian emphasis or obtained their degree from either a Christian college or seminary. Most of the participants surveyed had been in ministry in some capacity between 10 and 34 years (66.9%). While there were part-time and bi-vocational pastors in the denomination, most pastors (73.7%) worked full-time in their churches. The data revealed four main findings. First, over 92% of pastors in the Missionary Church preach about financially related topics at least once a year. About 43.5% preach three or more times, 22.2% preach twice annually, and 25.4% preach one time annually. Second, exploratory factor analysis identified two factors that were primary predictors of preaching/teaching on financially related topics. Factor 1 had a theme of financial training and church finance. Factor 2 had a theme of pastoral beliefs on giving and stewardship. Third, when considered together with Factor 1 (financial training/church finance) and Factor 2 (pastoral beliefs on giving and stewardship), pastors who had been in ministry over 10 years were more inclined to preach/teach on financially related topics two or more times compared to pastors who had been in ministry for less than 10 years. Fourth, when considered together with Factor 1 (financial training/church finance) and Factor 2 (pastoral beliefs on giving and stewardship), pastors in congregations of larger churches (250+) were more inclined to preach on financially related topics three or more times a year as compared to those in congregations of smaller size.

Conclusions. While most previous research suggested pastors and congregations did not favor preaching on financially related issues, this study found widespread support and practice for preaching on financial issues by pastors in the Missionary Church. Factors that most predict preaching on financial issues are (a) supportive personal beliefs on giving and stewardship; (b) education and training and a willingness to attend future training on financial issues; (c) personal commitment to giving/tithing; (d) openness of the congregation to address such topics from the pulpit in church; (e) more years of ministry experience; and (f) larger size of congregation. This research also supports prior findings that link commitment to faith traditions and more preaching on financial matters as leading to more generous giving. Several recommendations can be made from this study. First, pastors (a) are encouraged to create a mentoring program for younger pastors; (b) involve church members who have experience in specific financial areas as a part of an overall church plan to teach financial principles a pastor may feel inadequate addressing; and (c) continue to challenge church attendees with messages on financial matters. Second, leadership within the Missionary Church should (a) work with Bethel College to ensure all ministry students take a course or receive training on biblical financial principles and church finance; (b) encourage all churches to engage in offering optional studies for congregational growth in this area; and (c) use the biennial General Conference as a chance to offer training to pastors. Lastly, future research has an opportunity to build on this study. Further study is needed to see (a) if there are links between more regular pastoral preaching and generous giving; (b) if the results of this study would be similar if duplicated in another evangelical denomination; and (c) if pastors preach only on tithing/giving versus another financial topic included in the Bible such as debt, contentment, cosigning, investing, inheritance, etc.

Subject Area

Christian stewardship, Finance, personal--Religious aspects--Christianity, Preaching.

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