Church of God Chancellor Responds to Pew Research Article

Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

On November 4, 2016, the Pew Research Center released an article entitled, “The Most and Least Educated U.S. Religious Groups.” The article articulates the percentage of adults in each religious group who completed the following: college degree; some college; high school degree; and less than high school. The report states, “These groups are among the top of a list of 30 U.S. religious groups ranked by educational attainment based on data from our 2014 Religious Landscape Study.”

Following the release of the article, a thorough review demonstrates the listing of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) as the 30th religious group with 11% completing a college degree, 25% some college, 47% high school degree and 17% less than high school. Comparatively, among the total list of religious groups, those completing a college degree ranged from 11% to 77% with an average of 34.1%. Additional comparisons of all groups reveal the following averages: some college 30.6% (COG 25%); high school degree 27.9% (COG 47%); and less than high school 7.9% (COG 17%).

The research was predicated on the 2014 Religious Landscape Study National Telephone Survey conducted June4-September 30, 2014. The sample size was 35,071 adults, including a minimum of 300 interviews in each state and the District of Columbia. Interviews were via telephone, cellphones and landlines in both English and Spanish. Survey topics included the following: religious identity, religious upbringing, religious intermarriage, religious beliefs and practices, social and political values, and demographics. Because of the unusually large national sample size of the survey, it was possible to estimate the religious composition of the U.S. with a high degree of precision demonstrating the margin of error for results at +/-0.6 percentage points. Anyone can review the entire study, results and methodology at www.pewresearch.org.

After a quick review of the presented chart, there may be questions from Church of God constituents asking what does this mean. This is an authentic question and should direct our attention to the value and importance of education in our denomination. First, be sure to place some variables in perspective. While the Church of God appears to be at the bottom of the list with 11% completing a college degree, the Church of God is on the list. The survey addressed many organizations and Pew reported their top thirty religious groups. Compared to the wide spectrum of surveyed religious groups including protestant, evangelicals, liturgical, non-Christian, and atheists, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) is identified as a significant religious group in the U.S. Second, statistically, the Church of God is within five percentage points reporting some college.

One of the key Commitments of the Church of God is education, “We commit ourselves to education as a vital part of all phases of the Spirit-filled Christian life. Education is to be nurtured by the church: locally in rural areas, towns, and cities; regionally in counties, states, and geographical regions; internationally in every country with a Church of God presence; and globally in every continent of the world.” At the recent 76th Church of God International General Assembly convening in Nashville, TN, a significant comprehensive Contemporary Ministerial Development Committee Report was adopted. The report “focuses on the development of a culture of learning to prepare every minister for the challenges and opportunities of ministry by mobilizing every agency and all available resources to invest in perpetual ministerial training.”

Further, at the recent General Assembly, the Executive Committee took a historic step with the inauguration of the Global Education Initiative with the purpose to assimilate Church of God educational assets for an integrated, comprehensive, and cooperative global education system. The goal of the Initiative is networking educational institutions and leaders, leveraging our educational resources and creating a comprehensive global team of educational leaders. It will enhance our educational endeavors globally for the next generation of ministers, leaders and laity.
The Pew Research Center article simply affirms the need for greater educational opportunities in the Church of God and commitment to engage our own perpetual research component accentuating significant decision making to see the realization of the FINISH Commitment.

(Source: Michael L. Baker, Chancellor of Education, Church of God)

15 Comments

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Varnel Watson

    All right then new topic Ricky Grimsley Tony Conger you and the other CoG boys here and Charles Page pls do tell us how to understand this constant explaining away? Was the stats wrong Karen Lucas What exactly is going on in this picture here?

    The study emerges after a vivid discussion on mandatory education becoming an overwhelming prerequisite for ordination in mainline Pentecostal denominations http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/mandatory-college-degree-for-all-pentecostal-ministers/

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Ricky Grimsley

    I cant deny the stats but it depends on so many factors. People can learn and learn but not come to the knowledge of the truth sometimes. We cant even agree that God changes his mind when he does it several times in scripture. What education would i need to convince me otherwise. John 2:3-4 KJVS
    [3] And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. [4] Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Varnel Watson

    So are you saying cog is Jesus and the article is the mother saying cog’s hour has not come up yet? What are you saying with all this?

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Ricky Grimsley

    Im saying all the education in the world won’t remove the scales from peoples eyes.

    • Reply November 18, 2016

      Karen Lucas

      His put the scales on Paul’s eyes. It was the prayerful obedience of Ananias that removed them…and then he began to teach Paul.

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Robert Borders

    Sounds like another political statement that does not really say much but can be used to create more jobs in Cleveland, TN.

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Varnel Watson

    You are right. Ministry is not for everyone and not all can cut it. But is this some sort of explaining away the facts with describing the survey process. PEW is a respected agency and I doubt the got it wrong. What programs are put in place to secure this mandatory education approach?

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Karen Lucas

    The original post is from February. What study are you referring to?

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Karen Lucas

    Never mind, I see it connected to the article now. Well…I say that it explains a lot.

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Varnel Watson

    November 4, 2016, the Pew Research Center – what did it explain?

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Karen Lucas

    I think it would be more important / interesting to see stats on clergy and others who fill church leadership positions. We have long known that our tradition is comprised of a lot of people who are poor and less educated than others. We like to think that the reason for this is because we are willing to get our hands dirty and connect with “the least of these.” However, I also think that Pentecostals have a tendency to take pride in being uneducated so we can claim that all our wisdom / insight / success comes from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we forget that the scriptures teach us to study to show ourselves approved. We forget about all the study Paul did before ministry. We forget about the “University of Jesus” and the three years of intensive training he provided to the 12 and the other disciples who followed him around. We forget how church fathers like Polycarp studied at the feet of John or how Irenaeus studied at the feet of Polycarp…or how Mark studied at the feet of Peter and Timothy and Luke at the feet of Paul, etc…. What if Jerome or Tyndale, Luther, Wesley, Calvin, George Whitfield, Parham, Evan Roberts or William Seymour had never studied? Roberts and Seymour may not have had formal educations but they put the work in. Either way, I do not think someone saying, “I’m called!” is a sufficient reason to receive ordination papers. I think two of the best benefits of formal training (especially seminary training) is that (1) it provides extensive training in biblical, pastoral and theological studies and (2) it often requires ministers to go through a mentorship / apprentice process. That way, they are better prepared to do a sufficient job of pastoring, teaching and leading a church family instead of just being given permission to stand behind a pulpit and preach. What I meant by my comment above is that I have at times encountered some people through this site that think they know a lot but in their self-righteousness, they often reveal that they are unlearned. Maybe it is an insecurity or inferiority complex or something (due to lack of education) that keeps some of the COG leadership (all male, I understand) from being more open to theological study or scriptural arguments from scholars that are well-grounded in strong, orthodox hermeneutics. Maybe they are afraid of education and sometimes even vilify it because they haven’t received it, themselves. I think Pentecostals need to allow room for Smith Wigglesworth type people to surface (without the education) but that we should realize that they are better suited for evangelistic work – not pastoral work and that when it comes to ordination for pastoral ministry or a specific type of service to the church, we should require as much education as we can and also be busy figuring out ways to help provide scholarships and other incentives to take the financial burden off of people who are seeking formal ministerial training. I think we should applaud them and stand by them and appreciate the effort they are willing to put forth in order to be of better service to God and the church.

  • Reply November 18, 2016

    Karen Lucas

    And then maybe….if more pastors went through rigorous training and preparation to provide good pastoral care and oversight, it might inspire the people in the pews to take their education and their contribution to society a little more seriously.

    • Reply November 19, 2016

      Robert Borders

      Preach it! But even then there is no guarantee that the good old boy system will allow one a chance to pastor a church without having to move one’s family across the country in order to get a tiny church to pastor. There is rarely room made for educated men or women to minister in their home communities where they might have the greatest influence.

  • Reply November 20, 2016

    J. Ellis

    I think I read somewhere about God using the foolish things of the world to confound the wise… I wouldn’t go spending much time worrying about college degrees, I’d spend that time thinking about hearts that desire and pursue God. I’d rather be surrounded by 10 people who love Jesus and want to serve Him than 100 who have college degrees and no desire for Christ. That doesn’t mean you can’t have both, thank God for some of our highly educated believers, but just like rich/poor, or white/black, it’s not a differentiation we should be looking much at.

  • Reply September 14, 2017

    Jim Price

    This calls for a humours paper turned in by a ninth grader in a christian school. As you read this think of all the misinformation lingering in the heads of those in your congregation..

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