In recent years, and with a lot of attention paid to the 500th birthday of John Calvin last year, a perception had been created that the number of Reformed or Calvinist congregations was on the rise.
That, however, according to new data complied by The Barna Group, is not the case.
Quoting a recent study of pastors as part of long-term data, Barna reported the number of congregation self-identifying themselves as Calvinist or Reformed is essentially unchanged. Thirty-one percent of Protestant or evangelical churches surveys said they ascribed to at least some Calvinist teachings, the most well-known of which is predestination. This compares to 32 percent identified in 2000, 31 percent in 2002 and 29 percent in 2003.
Churches who alternative termed themselves Wesleyan or Arminian in teaching followed similar percentages and an identical trend.
According to Barna, in terms of the age of pastors, among the youngest generation of pastors (ages 27 to 45), 29% described themselves as Reformed, while 34% identified as Wesleyan. Pastors associated with the Boomer generation (ages 46 to 64) were evenly split between the two theological camps: 34% Reformed, 33% Arminian. Pastors who were 65 or older were the least likely to use either term: 26% and 27%, respectively.
David Kinnaman, Barna Group president and director of this survey, concluded, “there is no discernable evidence from this research that there is a Reformed shift among U.S. congregation leaders over the last decade. Whatever momentum surrounds Reformed churches and the related leaders, events and associations has not gone much outside traditional boundaries or affected the allegiances of most of today's church leaders.”