Clergy and Retirement: An Exploratory Study on Housing and Financial Preparedness

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Members or Leaders > Other > Summary


This study explored the financial and housing options that will be available to clergy members of a nondenominational fellowship when they reach the age of retirement. The Church of Christ is a Protestant fellowship that emphasizes the autonomy of the local congregation and does not have a regional or national body to organize a church-sponsored retirement plan. Thus, each minister is primarily responsible for his own retirement, which may or may not include assistance from the local congregation.

Data File
Cases: 214
Variables: 25
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: 2008
Funded By
Faculty Research Grant from Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Collection Procedures
Data for the study was gathered using a sample of Church of Christ congregations in the state of Texas. A cover letter and one-page survey were sent to the pulpit minister of every church with a Sunday morning worship attendance of 100 or more. Though somewhat arbitrary, this attendance marker was selected because of the relationship that exists between the size of a congregation and the likelihood that a minister is employed on a full-time basis. Since the Church of Christ does not have an organizing body that assigns members of the clergy to various churches, it is the responsibility of the local congregation to select and financially support its preacher. Smaller churches have greater difficulty generating sufficient resources to employ a full-time preacher so they often rely on volunteers or part-time clergy who support themselves through other means.

Of the 718 surveys that were mailed, 214 were returned for a response rate of 30 percent. Although a higher response rate was desired, the survey consisted of a single mailing rather than multiple mailings and was designed primarily to explore an area that is underdeveloped in the empirical literature. Thus, the results provide a baseline of information that can serve as the point of departure for subsequent studies in this area.
Sampling Procedures
The sampling frame was the 2003 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States (Lynn 2003).
Principal Investigators
James L. Knapp
Related Publications
Knapp, James L., Charles D. Pruett, and Jennifer L. Hicks. 2009. "Clergy and Retirement: An Exploratory Study on Housing and Financial Preparedness." Journal of Religion, Spiritually & Aging 21:159-171.

Lynn, Mac. 2003. Churches of Christ in the United States. Nashville, TN: 21st Century Christian.