Addressing difficult cultural issues from the pulpit can be daunting for pastors. But bringing these matters to congregations is more important than ever. “One of the goals of the American Pastors Network is to continually encourage pastors to be effective ‘salt and light’ in this dark world and preach the ‘whole counsel of God’. There is no greater calling for a ‘Minister of God’ and no greater responsibility to God’s people.”-Sam Rohrer, PPN President
Why do pastors shy away from addressing such pressing matters like same-sex marriage, politics, homosexuality, abortion, adultery, pornography and other hot-button issues?
Here’s six reasons:
- Fear of controversy or pushback from those in the pews if biblical principles are applied to the issues of the day.
- Negative theological training regarding talking about impacting the culture or discussion of anything regarding civil government or politics.
- Unjustified fear of losing their 501(c)(3) status.
- Being unaware of the historical role of pastors in the history of America.
- Believing that the primary purpose for preaching is limited to “preaching the Gospel” rather than training and “making disciples.”
- Having more of a fear of man rather than a fear of God.
Research has shown that pastors are purposefully skirting some controversial topics when preparing their messages for the pulpit, but churches and pastors must address these issues, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
Last summer, George Barna, founder of the Barna Group, shared research that found that a vast majority of theologically conservative pastors believe the Bible speaks to societal issues, but fewer than 10 percent of these pastors are teaching people what the Bible says on these topics.
The research, conducted through the American Culture and Faith Institute, asked pastors across the country about their beliefs regarding the relevancy of scripture to societal, moral and political issues, and the content of their sermons in light of their beliefs. Barna stated that many pastors are afraid to get involved in political issues because of the controversy it might create. And, he added, “Controversy keeps people from being in the seats, controversy keeps people from giving money, from attending programs.”
Content like this is just a part of APN’s “U-Turn” conferences for pastors and church leaders, where Barna will be a featured speaker. The next event, “U-Turn: A Roadmap for Renewal: A Conversation with Pastors on Society, Culture and Leadership,” is planned for 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Des Moines, Iowa, area, at the Berean Assembly of God Church at 5299 E. University Ave., in Pleasant, Iowa. This “U-Turn” event will enable pastors to stand up for truth, no longer silent to the changes, dynamics and agendas overtaking both the culture and the church.
Headlining the Dec. 1 event with Barna will be WallBuilders leader David Barton. Both were also featured speakers at the initial “U-Turn” conference in Lancaster, Pa., in March.
Barna founded The Barna Group, a leading research firm focused on faith and culture, in 1984 and sold it in 2009. Since then, he has continued to be involved in political research and strategy. He is the author or co-author of more than 50 books, including various best sellers and award-winning volumes such as “Growing True Disciples,” “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions,” “Revolution,” “Revolutionary Parenting,” “ Pagan Christianity?,” “The Frog in the Kettle” and “The Power of Vision.” Barna has served as a pastor and has taught at several universities and seminaries.
Barton heads WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on America’s moral, religious and constitutional heritage. He is the author of numerous best-selling books, with the subjects drawn largely from his massive library-museum of tens of thousands of original writings, documents and artifacts from early America. He also addresses well over 400 groups each year. His exhaustive research has rendered him an expert in historical and constitutional issues.
Additional “U-Turn” speakers in Iowa will include:
- Jeff Mateer of the Liberty Institute, who has argued significant religious liberties and marriage cases
- Former NFL star and pastor Paul Blair, President of Reclaiming America for Christ
- Pastor, pilot and author Steve Scheibner, who tells his gripping story from 9/11
- Sammy Tippit of Sammy Tippit Ministries
- Bryan Smith of BJU Press