Monday, December 27, 2010

A good example of using statistics in the pulpit

One of the fun things with writing a book is hearing how people respond to it. This week a pastor in St. Joseph, MI posted a thoughtful review of my book here. What impressed me in his review were his own thoughts about how to use statistics in his preaching. He describes well, so I'll just quote the relevant sections:

"One example in which Dr. Wright challenges Barna’s writing is in the off repeated statistic that Christians get divorced as often as non-Christians. I’ve bored my friends and colleagues for years telling them this is simply not true! When I ask, “Is this true among the Christians you know?” they admit it isn’t, but they assume the statistic is true because someone wrote it down. As you can imagine, that does not make it true.


I’m a preacher myself, but I refuse to use statistics unless they both make sense and can be validated—otherwise I make it clear to my hearers that I am aware statistics are only as valid as the research on which they are based."

I appreciate his thoughtfulness in using data in his teaching, and I think it's a good example for other preachers as well.

Thanks Rick!


Jeff said...

I enjoy reading your blog but would like clarification on one point:

Regarding your assertion that Christians do not get divorced at near to the same rate (my rephrasing) as non-Christians - would you mind pointing me towards something that would indicate otherwise as well as the flaws in Barna's overall research? Sure, I know few actual Christians who have gotten divorced but anecdotal evidence is a poor indicator.

Cheers and happy new year.

Brad Wright said...

Hello Jeff,

Here's more information about that statistic that you could possibly want. :-)