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Lifeway Research: Pastors Split Over Ministry Return Time Frame for Pastors Who Commit Adultery

Denominationally, Pentecostal pastors are the least likely to advocate for a permanent withdrawal (6%) and most likely to support staying away for at least a year (35%).

Methodists (7%) are more likely to say the pastor does not need to withdraw at all than Baptists (1%), Lutherans (1%), Pentecostals (less than 1%), and pastors in the Restorationist movement (less than 1%).

Pastors with a bachelor’s degree (34%) are more likely to support a permanent withdrawal than those with additional education: master’s (27%) or doctoral degree (22%).

Smaller church pastors, those with churches of attendance between 50 to 99, are also more likely to say pastors who commit adultery should withdraw from ministry permanently than pastors of churches with 100 to 249 in attendance (31% to 23%).

“Pastors’ opinions on the subject are a good barometer for opinions across churches,” said McConnell. “There is widespread disagreement from pastors across denominations, church size, age, race and education levels to quickly restoring pastors who commit adultery to public ministry positions.”


The phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted Aug. 30 – Sept. 24, 2019. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called.

Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.3%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Comparisons are made to a study with the same methodology conducted March 9-24, 2016.

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Aaron Earls is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net where this article originally appeared...