The survey was a personal project and not connected with the UPCI in any official way. The survey was an attempt to discern belief trends in various demographic sets among licensed ministers of United Pentecostal Church in North America (including missionaries but excluding those licensed outside North America).
The survey admittedly was incomplete. I wanted to ask more questions on ministerial authority and ecclesiology, and I also wanted to pursue social and cultural issues more. These are areas in which we need to do some serious theological reflection. Differences of beliefs in these areas can be significant hurdles between generations. However, I felt it was more important to focus mostly on doctrinal issues as outlined in the UPCI Manual.
The survey was anonymous, which was a concern for many people. This is understandable to a degree. However, it was interesting that some were fearful that their views would get out or that they would be confronted by authority figures for holding their views. This sense of mistrust and fear could be indicative of many things: (1) Some are wrestling with some of the traditional beliefs of the UPCI including position papers and traditions not contained within the Articles of Faith. (2) Some in positions of authority may be (or are perceived to be) policing beliefs including those which are not part of the Articles of Faith. (3) Some who still hold ministerial credentials may not agree with the UPCI Manual. (4) Some who disagree with or who are struggling with the UPCI Manual are fearful of having their views discovered and do not feel they can talk freely about their opinions with their organizational leaders. But without more information, nothing more can be concluded in this regard.
Several people also raised the issue of integrity: How do we know the survey was not skewed by non-UPCI ministers? Since the survey was anonymous, it cannot be proved scientifically, but I have a great deal of confidence that the survey reflects the opinions of UPCI ministers who took the survey for the following reasons: (1) The answers are in line with what was expected. (2) In the free-text fields, there was nothing that indicated non-UPCI participation. (3) The distribution of the survey was primarily to UPCI ministers, although it was available to non-UPCI people. Some non-UPCI Oneness believers took the survey, and I have confidence that they were honest and did not skew the results. To take the survey the typical user had to affirm their honesty three times. I am confident that our non-UPCI Oneness friends are honest. Others are probably not interested in such a lengthy survey on UPCI beliefs. Accordingly, it is doubtful that a random respondent would make the effort to take the survey. Even so, there may have been a few insincere responses, but they are not discernable in the data.
On a practical level, there was no easy way to make the survey more secure. I could have provided a password, but the password could have been distributed. I could have asked people to provide their UPCI ministerial ID, but this would have raised further questions about the anonymity of the survey and likely have discouraged some from taking the survey.
Respondents were asked to agree to the following terms at least once, and in most cases twice, depending on how they accessed the survey.
“This anonymous survey is intended for United Pentecostal Church ministers licensed in North America, including those who are serving abroad. Others are welcome to participate, but the survey is written for this audience. A working knowledge of the UPCI Manual is required to take this survey, so participants may want to have their Manual available before starting the survey.
The survey is not meant to be inflammatory or divisive; it merely seeks to identify beliefs within particular demographic sets. The rules for participating in this survey are as follows: (1) Participants should be honest and not attempt to skew the data. (2) Sarcasm, humor, and dishonesty are not permissible. (3) Participants should only take the survey once. (4) By proceeding to the survey you agree to these terms.
The survey consists of 70 questions and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete depending on your familiarity with the Manual.”
Only responses from ministers were preserved for analysis. Of 631 respondents, 452 survived the filters above and are being analyzed in the data set. This represents approximately 5% of the ministerial constituency of the UPCI in North America.
This survey was promoted on my blog and by e-mail to friends. Admittedly, the survey appealed to those who are computer literate and comfortable with navigating the Internet. However, this probably represents the mainstream of the target audience.
The survey results are available as follows:
I will be doing specific analysis on the survey results, but I wanted to post the overall results and see if this generates any questions which may influence my analysis. Initially, I found these statistics to be interesting:
The respondents represent the mainstream of ministers in the UPCI: senior pastors (52.4%); assistant and associate pastors (19.5%); and evangelists, prophets, and other itinerant ministers (10.6%).
96.2% agree with the Fundamental Doctrine of the UPCI.
There is a strong consensus on the new birth. Concerning the Articles of Faith, 96.1% fully agree with the “The One True God”, 98.2% fully agree with “Repentance”, 94.8% fully agree with “Water Baptism”, and 95.1% fully agree with “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
There was less agreement on “Holiness”: 60.5% fully agree with “Holiness”, 34.5% felt that “Holiness” needs to be reworded or clarified, and 5% fully disagree with the article “Holiness.” This means 95% are in some agreement about the article on holiness, although one-third want the article to be clarified or reworded. This includes those who want more stringent statements as well as those who want less stringent statements.
“Public School Activities” is the article with the least agreement: 41.8% fully agree with the article, 46.4% want the article clarified or reworded, and 11.9% fully disagree with the article.
There was less agreement on the Position Papers. Concerning “Sports (organized)”, 30.4% fully agree, 41.3% want the paper reworded or clarified, and 28.3% fully disagree with the paper. Concerning “Video (restriction)”, 28.5% fully agree, 46.3% want the paper reworded or clarified, and 25.2% fully disagree with the paper.
I will be doing additional analysis in the near future. Please stay posted.
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