Pulpit and Pew National Survey of Pastoral Leaders, 2001

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Congregations/Other Organizations > Others > Summary


The purpose of the Pulpit & Pew survey , undertaken for the researchers by the National Opinion Research Center, was to take stock of U.S. pastoral leadership: Who are they? What is their core work? How has it changed over time? How are they faring? The researchers were also concerned with social and cultural trends affecting pastoral leadership, and attempted to ask, normatively, what excellent pastoral leadership entails and how it can be nurtured and supported. The focus was on the universe of senior or solo pastors of congregations from all Christian denominations as well as pastors of independent churches. Non-Christian religious leaders were also sampled. The researchers did not survey associate or assistant pastors, clergy who serve in various non-congregational ministries, and retired clergy who are no longer serving congregations. The survey data were supplemented by focus group interviews in seven sites across the U.S.

Data File
Cases: 883
Variables: 271
Weight Variable: MSHIPWT
Because a substantial percentage of the church-attending population is in large congregations, larger congregations are more likely to be nominated by GSS participants. To correct for this, each congregation is weighted inversely proportional to its size. For example, for clergy in a one thousand member congregation, a weight of 1/1000 is applied, and for those in a one hundred member congregation, a weight of 1/100 is applied, and so on. This corrects for the overrepresentation of pastors of large congregations and makes it possible to treat each pastor, whatever his or her congregation’s size, as one unit in the population.
Data Collection
Date Collected: April 23, 2001 – October 5, 2001
Funded By
The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
Collection Procedures
Participants were surveyed using telephone interviews.
Sampling Procedures
NORC interviewers asked participants in the 2000 General Social Survey if they had attended religious services at least once a year and if so, to indicate the name and address of that place of worship. After eliminating duplicate nominations of congregations, congregations for which no address could be located after exhaustive search, others that had closed since the 2000 survey, and those groups that do not hold regular worship services, 1,292 congregations remained in the sample. NORC callers found that sixty-one of the 1,292 congregations did not have a current pastor, including twelve Jehovah’s Witness groups who would not name one person to be interviewed from their leadership council, or the congregations did or would not answer the telephone or return calls during the nineteen week field period. This left 1,231 eligible congregations for the purposes of the pastor survey. Interviews, lasting approximately forty-five minutes each, were completed with 883 senior or sole pastoral leaders—a completion rate of 72 percent. These included 832 Catholic and Protestant clergy and fifty-one clergy from other religions.

For further details of the sample, see Appendix A Jackson W. Carroll, God’s Potters: Pastoral Leadership and the Shaping of Congregations. Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 2006.
Principal Investigators
Jackson W. Carroll, Williams Professor Emeritus of Religion and Society and Director (Retired) of Pulpit & Pew: Research on Pastoral Leadership, Duke University Divinity School, Principal Investigator

Becky R. McMillan, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, Meinders School of Business, Oklahoma City University, Research Associate

Matthew J. Price, Director of Analytical Research, Episcopal Church Pension Group, New York, Research Associate

John B. James, Pulpit & Pew: The Duke Center for Excellence in Ministry. Duke University Divinity School, Project Coordinator
Related Publications
Jackson W. Carroll. God’s Potters: Pastoral Leadership and the Shaping of Congregations. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006

Jackson W. Carroll, “Pastors’ Picks: What Preachers are Reading". The Christian Century, 23 August 2003, 31-33.

Becky R. McMillan and Matthew J. Price. How Much Should We Pay Our Pastor: A Fresh Look at Clergy Salaries in the 21st Century. Research Report from Pulpit & Pew. Durham: Duke Divinity School, 2003.

Mamiya, Lawrence. River of Struggle, River of Freedom: Trends in Black Churches and Black Pastoral Leadership. Research Report from Pulpit & Pew. Durham: Duke Divinity School, 2006.

Other reports are posted at http://www.pulpitandpew.org under “Publications: National Clergy Survey.”