An overwhelming majority of American pastors are familiar with the concept of deconstruction, and one-fourth of those pastors say they know of attendees who have deconstructed, according to a new Lifeway Research survey.
The poll of Protestant pastors found that 73 percent are at least somewhat familiar with the idea of deconstructing one’s faith, which the survey defined as dissecting and “often” rejecting the “Christian beliefs they grew up with.” One-fourth (25 percent) of pastors say they are “very familiar” with the concept, with only 14 percent saying they have never heard of the term.
Among pastors who are familiar with deconstruction, 27 percent say they have had attendees “who have methodically deconstructed their faith,” according to the survey’s wording.
“In recent years, many Americans have stopped associating themselves with Christian churches,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “While surveys have shown that many who don’t attend or claim to belong to a church still maintain many Christian beliefs, for a noticeable minority, the journey away from the Christian church begins with a change in beliefs.”
The poll found that:
- Pastors aged 18-44 are the most likely (36 percent) to say they are “very familiar” with deconstruction.
- Pastors in the Northeast (28 percent) are more likely to select “familiar” than those in the South (19 percent).
- Among pastors who are familiar with the concept, evangelical pastors (72 percent) are more likely than mainline pastors (62 percent) to say their attendees have not deconstructed their faith.
“In Matthew 11, Jesus tells the parable of the sower who sowed seeds to illustrate that people who hear the word about his kingdom react in different ways,” McConnell said. “Some go on to produce fruit, others abandon it immediately, and others embrace it for a time before the seed is scorched or choked out. While the number who react in each way may change over time, each response to the message of Jesus’ kingdom persists today.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.