Monday, March 20, 2006

Pastors' Personalities and Congregations' Expectations

Remember a while back when I asked y'all to help me pilot test a measure of traits desired in a pastor? Well, we finished the paper and presented it at the annual International Conference for the Christian Association for psychological Studies as a poster presentation (all the work, a fraction of the glory). It went pretty well actually. There was a lot of presentations on clinical work and some research on clinical themes, but not a great deal of science. Anyway, here's a short synopsis of what we did.
  • We had the pastors of two churches fill out personality, vocational interest, job satisfaction and burnout measures.
  • We had individuals in the congregation tell us about their ideal for a pastor (using the questionnaire that I had y'all fill out) and rate their satisfaction with the pastor by putting a mark on a line somewhere between "My pastor is the best I've ever had" and "My pastor could improve some things"
  • I crunched the data

It turns out that the church whose pastor better matched the congregation's expectation on vocational interests (averaged across all congregants) experienced less burnout. That congregation also had higher satisfaction scores. Our study gives some preliminary evidence that a congregant's idea of a perfect pastor predicts his or her satisfaction with the actual pastor who stands in front of them every week. So, if I expect my pastor to have Investigative interests and know his Book of Concord like the back of his hand and exegete scripture like a true theologian, I will be more satisfied if that is what I see in the pulpit on Sunday morning. Also, if I expect my pastor to love the arts and to incorporate interpretive dance into the service and he spends his time explaining Greek and Hebrew, I will not be too pleased. Not earth shattering stuff here, but never been researched. Of course, this result was extremely preliminary because of the sample size (respectable in terms of congregants, but there were only two pastors, which is very limited).

One person that we were talking to about the paper suggested that we could offer a service to screen individuals and tell them which church/pastor they would be most happy with. I'm pretty sure I lost a kidney from that comment. It haunts my mind that I may be enamored of Lutheran theology not becuase therein lies the most clear and beautiful presentation of the faith once delivered to the saints, but because of my own personality - namely that I like a bit more formality and mystery on a Sunday morning.

I can send the paper itself to interested parties.

2 Comments:

Blogger Devona said...

"It haunts my mind that I may be enamored of Lutheran theology not becuase therein lies the most clear and beautiful presentation of the faith once delivered to the saints, but because of my own personality - namely that I like a bit more formality and mystery on a Sunday morning."

Amen.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Kletos,

As a pastors wife working on her masters in marriage and family therapy, I have been really interested in your blog. Thank you for sharing your insights.
I really would love to look at your paper.

lora.horn@gmail.com

6:52 PM  

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