Clergy Job Satisfaction Survey, 1996

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Members or Leaders > Other > Summary


This dataset is a 1996 national survey of parish ministers from two Protestant denominations that both have open labor market structures: the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The survey was intended to examine sources of job satisfaction and employee attachment for clergy employed in parish ministry.

Data File
Cases: 2,658
Variables: 198
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: March 13 - August 27, 1996
Funded By
Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation
Louisville Institute
University of Iowa Student Government Research Grant
Collection Procedures
Although the questionnaire was not sent out until March 1996, fieldwork began in August 1995. During this initial stage, the researcher obtained permission from church in leaders in both denominations (United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ) to mail a questionnaire to all of their female pastors and to 50 percent of their male pastors. Along with permission to conduct the survey, both denominations offered to make avaialbe copies of their mailing lists of parish clergy. As a precautionary measure, a pretest of the research questionnaire was undertaken before the actual survey was administered. The pretest was carried out using a nonrandom sample of seven parish ministers representing both denominations and who were serving churches in southeast Iowa. The pretest group included a mix of large and small churches, permanent and interim ministers, and male and female ministers. Each respondent completed the questionnaire and then discussed the questions and her/his responses with the researcher for approximately thirty to forty-five minutes. Before completing the questionnaire, respondents were given a brief explanation about the purpose of the study and the pretest, and they were assured that their responses and comments would be kept confidential. Respondents were also informed that the researcher had obtained permission to conduct the survey from denomination officials. Concerns and criticisms from respondents were used to revise some of the questions and statements as well as the order of items on the questionnaire. A revised questionnaire was then given to three additional ministers for a second round of pretests.

Survey data were collected between March and August of 1996. To reduce coding errors and data entry tasks, the questionnaire was designed to be optically scanned. Before the survey was mailed, news releases were sent to all UCC and DOC regions to be published in local newsletters, informing clergy of the upcoming survey. In order to encourage clergy to complete and return the survey, a letter was enclosed with the survey that explained its purpose, informed survey respondents of the denominational support for the project, and promised to share summary findings with respondents. The letter also told respondents that participation was voluntary and confidential, and that the questionnaire would take about thirty minutes to complete the questionnaire. A stamped, addressed envelope was enclosed for ease of questionnaire return. Telephone, e-mail, and faxed questions from respondents were addressed personally by the researcher. A reminder letter and a second questionnaire mailed to nonrespondents. Of the 4,500 questionnaires sent, 2,782 were returned for a 62% response rate. 124 questionnaries were excluded due to being incomplete or otherwise unusable.
Sampling Procedures
A 50 percent random sample of male parish ministers was drawn in both the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ, while all female parish ministers were surveyed. The oversampling of female clergy was meant to provide data for gender comparisons, because at the time, only 17 percent of UCC clergy and 12 percent of DOC clergy were women.
Principal Investigators
Elaine M. McDuff
Charles W. Mueller
Related Publications
Elaine M. McDuff. 2008. "Organizational Context and the Sexual Harassment of Clergy." Sociology of Religion 69:297-316.

Charles W. Mueller and Elaine M. McDuff. 2004. "Clergy-Congregation Mismatches and Clergy Job Satisfaction." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43:261-273.

Charles W. Mueller and Elaine M. McDuff. 2002. "Good Jobs and Bad Jobs: Differences in Clergy Employment Relationship." Review of Religious Research 44:150-168.

Elaine M. McDuff and Charles W. Mueller. 2002. "Gender Differences in the Professional Orientations of Protestant Clergy." Sociological Forum 17:465-492.

Elaine M. McDuff. 2001. "The Gender Paradox in Work Satisfaction and the Protestant Clergy." Sociology of Religion 62:1-22.

Elaine M. McDuff and Charles W. Mueller. 2000. "The Ministry as an Occupational Labor Market: Intentions to Leave the Local Church vs. Intentions to Leave the Ministry." Work and Occupations 27:89-116.

Charles W. Mueller and Elaine M. McDuff. 2000. "Winners and Losers in the Temporary Clergy Labor Market." Book chapter in Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 8, JAI Press, Inc., edited by Randy Hodson.

Elaine M. McDuff and Charles W. Mueller. 1999. "Social Support and Compensating Differentials in the Ministry: Gender Differences in Two Protestant Denominations." Review of Religious Research 40:307-330.