Do you rely on pastors and other church leaders for courage to do what the Lord says? Are you the type of person who needs others around you if you need to take a stand for what’s right in God’s eyes or can you stand on your own knowing God is with you when no one else is available? If the Barna Group is correct on the research they are compiling about a good number of pastors these days, believers may be faced with these kinds of self-assessments sooner than they think.
The Christian researchers have done a survey of conservative pastors and have discovered that although they are aware the Bible tackles difficult issues concerning sins that have political ramifications, 90% of pastors back away from addressing those socio-political issues with their congregations. About 32% of them are afraid the IRS or ACLU will come after them. 23% think the church should be totally separated from any politics. 16% of them won’t touch those issues because their elders and/or deacons have told them not to.
George Barna has also discovered that these pastors base the success of their churches on “[a]ttendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff, and square footage.” None of which were Jesus’ focus when he started the church, Barna points out. The percentages, when coupled with their idea of success, reveals that 71% of conservative pastors are fearful of controversy because it may drive all of their “successes” down. They fear men more than God. As a result, churches have pastors who would rather tickle ears and directly or indirectly encourage people in their sins, which in turn makes churches weak.
Lack of proper training in Bible school or seminary are other factors Barna believes contribute to this mentality of being unprepared to tackle important issues. He’s right to a certain extent. Ultimately, however, a person called to preach is supposed to rely on the Holy Spirit for themselves to allow him to give them direction based on what the Bible says. If they study the word enough and pray, they will come to that realization on their own. And those who are truly godly in congregations should pray for their leaders to have boldness (Acts 4:29-31). Churches are quickly fulfilling what God through his prophets warned us about in the following scripture:
17 They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. …
22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Jeremiah 23
22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
23 Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 13
14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance… ?
15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up [exalted]; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered [saved]. Malachi 3
Chris Woodward, Barna: Many pastors wary of raising ‘controversy,’ OneNewsNow.com, Friday, August 1, 2014.
Harry A. Gaylord