The American Culture & Faith Institute, led by Christian pollster George Barna, did a recent study of conservative Christian congregations about the outcome of the 2016 elections and discovered that pastors believe that they had the most influence on how congregants voted. However, that wasn’t actually true. The pastors were down the list of influence at number 5, after “unions, President Obama, voter guides, and Christian nonprofits.”
How is it that pastors have this inaccurate view of themselves? Barna says that the one major concern he hears from churchgoers is that pastors do not teach on how Christians should (from a Biblical and righteous viewpoint) deal with moral, ethical, and cultural challenges they face that the world promotes every day. So congregants have started looking elsewhere to try to navigate their interactions with the culture.
Barna believes that this situation will not change anytime soon since a majority of pastors are still focused on measuring the success of churches by “attendance, money, number of programs, number of staff, and building size” as opposed to the reasons why Jesus came, died, and was resurrected. Nevertheless, each Christian has their individual responsibility in their relationship with the Lord to educate themselves on what the Bible says and means, with the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Is this a reflection of a mentality in church that clergy are “supposed to” be a priestly class between us and God to tell us what we should believe, as opposed to them being just guides and counselors? Does this highlight the unwillingness of most churchgoers to sit down to read the Bible and pray to God on their own? Overall, what do these results tell us about the spiritual state of conservative congregations? When someone is not honest enough to frankly share the objective truth to help someone else, has godly love been replaced as the main influence in a congregation?
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:14-15
Source: Steve Jordahl, Barna: Pastors need to look beyond numbers, OneNewsNow.com, December 16, 2016.