George Barna is the foremost researcher of modern Christianity in the country.
He recently spoke about a two-year research project studying why modern-day pastors and churches are so silent regarding political issues. The result of his research only confirms what I have been trying to tell people for years. But there was one thing his research uncovered that did somewhat surprise me. OneNewsNow.com covered the story:
“On Thursday, George Barna–research expert and founder of The Barna Group–shared with American Family Radio’s ‘Today’s Issues’ about new information he’s compiling at American Culture and Faith Institute over the last two years, gauging where theologically conservative pastors are at politically.
“‘What we’re finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues. Then we ask them: Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?–and the numbers drop…to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.’
“When researchers ask those pastors what else they are willing to do to get their people active in the political process, Barna said ‘it’s almost nothing.’
“‘So the thing that struck me has been that when we talk about the separation of church and state, it’s that churches have separated themselves from the activities of the state–and that’s to the detriment of the state and its people,’ stated the researcher.”
That 90% of America’s pastors are not addressing any of the salient issues affecting Christian people’s political or societal lives should surprise no one–especially the readers of this column. It has been decades since even a sizeable minority of pastors have bothered to educate and inform their congregations as to the Biblical principles relating to America’s political, cultural, and societal lives. But the part of the research that did somewhat surprise me was this statement by Barna: “What we’re finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues. Then we ask them: Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?–and the numbers drop…to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”
Did you get that? Ninety-percent of America’s pastors say they KNOW that the Bible speaks to all of these issues, but they are deliberately determined to NOT teach these Biblical principles. That is an amazing admission!
It would have been one thing if the pastors had said that these political issues were not relevant to scripture, and, therefore, they didn’t feel called to address them. But the pastors are admitting that, yes, they KNOW that the scriptures DO relate to our current political issues, but they are deliberately choosing to NOT teach those scriptural principles. Holy heads-in-the-sand, Batman!
I confess: this statistic caught me off-guard. So, we can forever dismiss ignorance as justification for pastors remaining silent.
Now, all of the church members out there who have been forgiving of their ministers for not speaking out on the issues by saying things like, “He really doesn’t understand what’s going on,” need to reevaluate their leniency–if they are intellectually honest, that is–and if they truly care about the future of their country.
Church member, admit it: that pastor of yours who refuses to speak out on the issues KNOWS the Bible speaks to these issues, and he is DELIBERATELY refusing to teach those Biblical principles to you and your family.
So, we are not dealing with IGNORANT pastors; we are dealing with DELIBERATELY DISOBEDIENT pastors. They are PURPOSELY CHOOSING to remain silent. Will that make any difference to the Christians in the pews who say they want their pastor to take a stand but are willing to overlook his “ignorance?” Probably not. But, at least, we now know what the real issue is, don’t we?
The report goes on: “Why the disconnect? According to Barna, the answer is simple. He suggests asking pastors how someone would know if their church is ‘successful’–which he did.”
“‘There are five factors that the vast majority of pastors turn to [when asked that question],’ he explained. ‘Attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff, and square footage.’”
There you have it: pastors are more concerned about being “successful” than they are being truthful. They believe if they tell their congregations the truth, their churches will not be “successful.” And it is so refreshing to see Barna directly ask pastors what “success” means to them. So, now we know (as if we didn’t know before; but, at least now there is definitive research to back it up). The vast majority of pastors believe church success lies in:
*Number of programs
*Number of staff
*Square footage (of facilities)
Shazam! Where did pastors come up with this definition of “success?” You know where: from men such as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, et al.
The megachurch phenomenon of the last several decades transformed how pastors think and behave. Pastors read the “successful church” books and publications; they attend the “successful church” conferences; they watch the “successful church” videos, etc. They, then, try to mimic the tactics and strategies they have been taught. And if there is one constant theme promulgated by the likes of Osteen, Warren, and Hybels, it is pastors must avoid controversy like the plague. Again, one must realize that the goal is NOT being faithful to Biblical principles; the goal is building a “successful” church as noted above.
It is time for Christians to acknowledge that these ministers are not pastors; they are CEOs. They are not Bible teachers; they are performers. They are not shepherds; they are hirelings. It is also time for Christians to be honest with themselves: do they want a pastor who desires to be faithful to the scriptures, or do they want a pastor who is simply trying to be “successful?” BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF, CHRISTIAN FRIEND.
Barna’s research blows the “ignorance” excuse out of the water. Again, it is not ignorance; it is deliberate disobedience.
Barna goes on to say, “Now all of those things [the five points of success listed above] are good measures, except for one tiny fact: Jesus didn’t die for any of them.” Wow! You nailed it, George!
See the report here:
Where do you find anything in the New Testament that measures a pastor’s success by the number of people attending his church? Or by how large his offerings are? Or by how many programs his church has? Or by how many staff members he has? Or by how large his facilities are? In fact, the early New Testament church didn’t even own property or buildings.
When the Apostle Paul listed his ministerial pedigree, here is what it looked like (II Cor. 11):
*Stripes above measure
*In prisons frequently
*In deaths often
*Beaten with rods
*Hunger and thirst
*Cold and nakedness
I don’t see attendance, offerings, programs, staff, or square footage in that list at all, do you?
When Paul wrote his own epitaph, it read, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:7). He didn’t say, “I had a large congregation, we had big offerings, we had a lot of programs, I had a large staff, and we had large facilities.”
In the world of Osteen, Warren, and Hybels (and 90% of America’s pastors), the Apostle Paul’s ministry must have been a dismal failure. And how many church pulpit committees would even consider the pastoral résumé such as the Apostle Paul wrote above?
Please understand this: America’s malaise is directly due to the deliberate disobedience of America’s pastors–and the willingness of the Christians in the pews to tolerate the disobedience of their pastor. Nothing more! Nothing less!
Oh, and get this: according to the survey conducted by Barna, guess what the number one reason is why pastors choose to be “successful” and not “controversial?” You guessed it: fear of the IRS 501c3 tax-exempt status. Who would have thought it? (Yes, that question is deliberately facetious.)
The release of this research by George Barna could not have come at a more opportune time. I announced just last week that we have officially launched the Liberty Church Project, whereby we will be helping people around the country to establish non-501c3 churches. I invite folks (pastors or laymen) who are serious about starting new non-501c3 churches–or helping to resurrect patriot pulpits within existing churches–to fill out our online application. We already have several groups that we intend to help and are looking for others. If you are someone who is serious about such an endeavor, and seeks our assistance, please fill out the online application here:
And, in case you missed it, here is my column announcing the launch of the Liberty Church Project:
I want to commend George Barna for his research. I suspect that the vast majority of pastors and churches will ignore it, but, at least now we know the painful truth of the matter: by in large, pastors are deliberately choosing to not teach Biblical truth to their congregations for the selfish goal of being “successful.” But as we come to grips with this reality, we must also acknowledge that pastors are simply (and shamelessly) putting their fingers to the wind and finding that the people in the pews are more interested in their churches being “successful” than faithful to the teaching of Holy Scripture. As Barna noted, it is the churches, themselves, that have chosen to separate from the political affairs of their country.
In the end, it always comes down to We the People, doesn’t it? If you want a church where the pastor is willing to teach the Biblical principles that relate to our everyday lives–including our political lives–you might have to vote with your feet and go find one. That is, if that kind of thing is truly important to you.
This article originally appeared at Chuck Baldwin Live.