Meet the podcast team from Lifeway Research:
- Scott McConnell, executive director
- Lizette Beard, qualitative director
- Casey Oliver, statistician
Rant of the Day: Misuse of Convenience Sampling (02:10)
Too many times a survey is done with people who were the most convenient to ask.
Your friends aren’t representative of a wider group, so sometimes when we see stats out there we want to know hey, who did you ask? How did you ask them? Where did those come from? A lot of times the answer to that is: they asked the people who were convenient to ask. And we call that convenience sampling. Sometimes that’s through their social media account or sometimes it’s through, their audience, maybe it’s through a newsletter.
It’s bad methodology when a person (or group) surveys their newsletter subscribers, website visitors, or conference attendees and then reports the results as if they represent “all Americans” or “all pastors.”
Because a convenience sample is not the setting you actually want to describe. It’s the people you can get easily. If you’re at an event and you ask the people at that event to answer some questions, that can be helpful for the conversation you have in that room. As soon as you go to another setting, which would be a conversation where you’re talking about churches across the nation or you’re talking about adults or men in America, those conversations are completely different. It’s a different setting.
We’ve seen a lot of statistics. Honestly, a lot of times it’s somebody quoting somebody else who quoted somebody else who quoted somebody else. It’s hard to get back to the original statistics. We actually had Dr. Richard Dawkins and the North American Mission Board approach Lifeway Research saying, we’re having trouble getting to the real statistics that keep being quoted. From what we found, they don’t appear to be very reliable. So as we dug into it, the research that most people were quoting said that many pastors were:
- leaving the ministry every year
- struggling with pornography
- struggling in their marriage
- ready to quit
We found that those were incredibly inflated because [the survey] took place at a conference and it happened to be a bunch of pastors who were needing help.
If you’re always worried about your own finances, you’re going to be making decisions a little more defensively in that church setting
There were several warning signs that the research identified that can really signal when a pastor might be in trouble. We began with qualitative research where experts kind of guided us toward the topics we needed to cover in the research. Some of the warning signs that surfaced:
- conflict in the church,
- issues in their own family,
- moral lapses,
- lack of preparation or a poor fit in their church.
Over half of pastors indicate that they’re concerned about the financial security of their family.
Honestly, that doesn’t land in the family category. It lands in the conflict category. So when a little bit of conflict comes up, you’re going to be looking to get out of that conflict because you don’t want to risk your job and your family’s welfare because you really need that job.
We’re definitely reminded that pastoral ministry is a people business.
I think a lot of times in a seminary setting, you’re needing to learn a lot of facts and how those facts work together. Any time those courses can put those in the context of people’s lives, that’s going to help pastors apply it in their ministry later on because it’s all about people.
6 Thoughts for Pastors on Personal Finances (by Eric Geiger)
(See the full transcript for the episode –with links–on next page)