success stories

Interesting Statistics on Lay Preaching

From a study conducted for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings
from The CARA Report

To help the challenge of fewer priests, and pastors, in the late 1990s Bishop Anthony Milone engaged Partners in Preaching of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, for specialized training in lay preaching. A total of 80 lay persons completed a two-year course called "Empowering a New Voice" and were commissioned in 1999. Of these, 81 percent are presently involved in the ministry of preaching within the diocese. Thirty-four percent have graduate or professional degrees and 88 percent are college students. Eight-two percent are also currently serving as paid or volunteer lay ministers at the parish level.

CARA recently evaluated this lay preaching ministry for the diocese and Partners in Preaching. The study had three components: a survey of certified lay preachers, a survey of priests and other pastoral ministers, and a survey of parishioners from parishes that have experienced lay preaching. The program appears to be successful, as evidenced by the following findings:

— Six in ten responding parishioners, "strongly agree" that lay preaching is a good alternative to closing churches because of a shortage of ordained priests. Nearly eight in ten parishioners "strongly agree" that they support the ministry of lay preaching. Only about three in ten responding parishioners think lay preachers are not sufficiently prepared to effectively exercise their ministry.

— Seven in ten other pastoral ministers (such as deacons and pastoral administrators) agree at least ‘somewhat' that lay preaching is better than closing parishes. Moreover, two-thirds of these other pastoral ministers ‘strongly agree' that they are supported in their own ministry by the lay preachers.

— Lay preachers themselves believe they are sufficiently prepared, although most would like more training in preaching. Nine in ten agree that all lay preachers would benefit from mentoring after initial training. Most lay preachers say they feel accepted as lay preachers by both parishioners and their own pastor or pastoral administrator. But they are less sure that other priests and deacons accept them as lay preachers.