Is There a Disconnect Between Church-goers and Their Pastors?

Pastors have seemed to back away from teaching biblical worldviews from the pulpit, primarily because of their perception that their congregants don’t want to hear it. This has resulted in a growing disconnect between Christian conservatives and their pastors.  

Interestingly enough, a new survey titled “What God’s People Want to Know,” commissioned by WallBuilders and the American Culture & Faith Institute, shows conservative Christians actually want to hear more about political issue-related teaching from the pulpit. The fascinating survey asked moderate and conservative Christians about the types of issue-related teaching they wanted to hear from their pastors during the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Contrary to the notion of many pastors that religion has no place in the public square, the findings demonstrate that Christians who hold politically conservative views believe that churches should be more involved in the political process—the opposite message we hear from progressives and the media. church interior

Two out of three respondents said they want more information from their church about what the Bible teaches in relation to current social and political issues. At least 80% of the respondents indicated their greatest need for information related to the following six issues of “high importance”: Abortion (91%); Religious persecution/liberty (86%); Poverty (85%); Cultural restoration (83%); Sexual identity (82%); and Israel (80%).

Sadly, the survey also found that one out of every five conservative pastors did not even encourage their congregants to vote in November 2014. It is also alarming that one-quarter of conservative pastors did not teach their congregants biblical principles about important social and political issues during the six months preceding the election.

The results also underscored just how tone deaf the media and political candidates are when it comes to the issues most important to conservative Christians. Topics frequently pushed by the media, such as healthcare, foreign policy, immigration reform, jobs/unemployment, taxes, gun rights, military spending, and campaign finance reform, did not make the list of issues that mattered.

What does all this mean and why is it important? The survey reinforces what we have already seen: there is a correlation between the declining spiritual and social health of America and the lack of engagement of our pastors. In the words of the survey summary, “The nation has been demonstrably worse off ever since pastors chose to disconnect faith from politics and governance. America urgently needs cultural direction from those whom God has placed in positions of spiritual leadership. One way of providing such leadership is by shaping the thinking of Christians by teaching them foundational biblical principles related to pressing social and political issues of the day.” To that, we say Amen!

So, what can congregants do to encourage their pastors to preach on what the Bible says about social and cultural matters?  Try telling your pastor the following:

  • You’re interested in learning what the Bible teaches on the topics and would consider them appropriate subjects for the pastor to teach from the pulpit.

  • You have appreciated the times when the pastor has addressed current issues from a biblical perspective, and you hope to experience more of that kind of teaching on a broader range of issues.

  •  You believe learning about what the Bible says in relation to current issues of importance – beyond abortion and same-sex marriage—would be a significant contribution to the body of Christ.

Pastors have more than an opportunity to teach on these matters; they have a responsibility and calling to do so. While pushback from some congregants is likely, especially those who are more theologically moderate, addressing these issues may serve as an impetus to developing a more biblically centered worldview among many people in the congregation. 

Originally published in the Advocates for Faith & Freedom’s “Voices for Freedom” newsletter.

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