How Can Families, Pastors and People in the Pews Redefine ‘Success’ in 2017?

As many look ahead to the changes they want to make in 2017, the Pennsylvania Pastors Network  is analyzing what success means for Christians, especially when it comes to the definition of success—both in the world and from God’s Word.

PPN President Sam Rohrer recently talked with renowned social science researcher George Barna, who is a regular guest on APN’s (American Pastors Network) nationally syndicated “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program. The two discussed both the secular definition of success—the fulfillment of popularity and the attainment of wealth—and the biblical definition of success, referencing Joshua 1:8 and the Hebrew meaning of “success,” which is actually “wisdom.”

“As we begin a new year,” Rohrer said, “it’s appropriate to look back and take stock of where we are, then look ahead and say, ‘What can we do to succeed or to improve?’ This world pushes the concept of success, but almost always defines it deceptively. With the election of Donald Trump and his promise to make America great again, it’s a perfect time to talk about greatness and what that means in terms of success.”

Rohrer said there are three areas that Christians and pastors especially can think about in terms of success: family, the pulpit and the pews. {Listen to the full radio program on this topic here.}

The Family

Barna shared that at the end of each year, the American Culture & Faith Institute examines seven dimensions of the culture, and one is the family. Barna added that the family, in general, was not “successful” in America over the past year, citing a declining number of marriages, cohabitation on the rise, a high divorce rate among first-world nations and a rising number of children born outside of marriage.

“We look at faith indicators, whether families are spending time worshiping together, studying the Bible together, praying together—all of those indicators are down,” Barna said on “Stand in the Gap Today.” “We look at the amount of time that families are spending together—that’s down. We look at the morals and values that families have embraced and that they’re teaching to their children (as well as) the kinds of situations they’re putting them (to) learn morals, values, ethics—that’s on the decline.”

Rohrer and Barna also discussed four areas that should be re-prioritized for families:

  1. That families would work together to establish their priorities in terms of faith, family, a God-given purpose or mission, and civic duty.
  2. That families would be committed to the things that matter to God, such as marriage, parenting or a faith-based worldview.
  3. That families would work to share their faith better with each other, study the Bible together, worship together and share the Gospel with others.
  4. That families would be consistent in these crucial areas.

The Pulpit

Regarding leadership at the pulpit, Rohrer and Barna also discussed that success for both the nation and for the family must be led by pastors and churches.

“That’s why the American Pastors Network is committed to building up, praying for and being a resource for pastors,” Rohrer said. “All that we do helps communicate these kinds of principles that will help us all to live more wisely and live by a biblical definition of success so that God can bless our families and bless our nation. But it doesn’t happen accidentally.”

In regards to pastors reprioritizing their purpose, Barna added that a key focus for the American Culture & Faith Institute is analyzing faith and church issues, including urging pastors to teach about practical and applicable ideas from the pulpit, such as matters that made news in this most recent election.

“Being able to relate God’s truth principles to the very kinds of things that we face day-to-day in the trenches of life would be useful,” Barna said, “having that kind of information and giving us some kind of metrics or measurable approaches to how to figure out are we on track—of course, all of this leading to us increasingly developing a biblical worldview. That’s really where the rubber meets the road, and that’s one of the things that demonstrably through the research is lacking in America.”

Barna also called for stronger, clearer, focused and forceful leadership in churches, as well as a willingness for the church to take ministry outside the church walls and a commitment to redefine success in ways other than the numbers of people in the pews, square footage, programs or the amount of money given.

“Jesus didn’t die on the cross for any of that,” Barna added, “so we’ve got to go back and identify what are the things that really, really matter.”

The Pews

Lastly, Rohrer and Barna discussed how the people in the pews can reprioritize and redefine success.

“Ultimately, it’s the individual—all of us in the pews of America—that must change in order for there to be national blessing—for God’s blessing and for greatness or success ever to be realized,” Rohrer said. “Whether we realize it or not, none of us as individuals will ever be able to stand before God and say, ‘My pastor didn’t teach me’ or ‘The media led me astray.’ None of that will matter when we stand before God, because we all make our own decisions. Ultimately it comes down to us in the pews, the parents in the homes in how they raised their children, and the pastors in the pulpit and the church leaders in how they led their people.”

3 thoughts on “How Can Families, Pastors and People in the Pews Redefine ‘Success’ in 2017?

  1. We agree with the pulpit being the source for change. we have not sat in a pew for years because we see no need. People seldom influence the leadership although we have tried in the past. It is the leadership who must invoke change in the pews. This is one of the ultimate reasons for the country’s downfall. Knowledge and wisdom is in dire shortage. Thanks for your hard work.

  2. Paul told Timothy, the pastor at Ephesus, to do the work of an evangelist. As an evangelist for over 35 yrs., I know of very few pastors or evangelists doing open-air preaching in their communities as our Lord Jesus Christ did as an example for all of us. The gospel of our dear Saviour is being hidden behind closed doors on Sundays while the sinners on the outside are going to hell without hearing the good news through street preaching. Our political leaders need to know that there is a man of God in their city who will preach the truth with boldness, having a fear of God and not of man. May God help us!

  3. I enjoy your” news in the news” on 88.5 fm in Crossville, Tn. I worked at 5 Christian stations ,from N. Carolina to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. , and I’m always listening for pertinent content. Blessings, Lee Stevens

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