January 18, 2006


A recent survey by the Barna Research Group asked church pastors what members of their congregations are most passionate about. The leaders surveyed responses, averaged out, showed that they felt 70% of the adults in their churches consider their faith in God the top priority in their lives.

If this were a version of the "Family Fued" gameshow, that answer would draw a loud buzzer noise and an X on the tv screen.

Survey says...only about 15% of adults felt God was their top priority. This was the result of a second survey done concurrently by Barna.

That, folks, is a HUGE disconnect.

The president of the survey company, George Barna, feels that pastors guage passion by looking at numbers such as church attendance. That's quite a dispassionate way of measuring passion, isn't it.

It's easy to paint a story like this in broad strokes and I'll resist that temptation, but it does at least raise questions.

Perhaps in some of these situations, the church membership is taking the lead from thier pastor. In churches where politics are preached and resources are spent to influence judicial nominations and public policy, I can understand where members would wonder if God is their pastor's top priority. If it isn't, and ostensibly that's the basis for him receiving a salary from the church, then why should God be that important to everyone else?

There is no more effective style of leadership than leading by example. Unfortunately, a bad example can lead people in the wrong direction.

I encourage readers to ask this question of their church pastor; is winning souls for Chirst his top priority, above ALL other functions he performs? If it is not, then I emplore you to do one of two things, either try to get a new pastor or seek out a new church where the leader is focused on winning souls for Christ.

If pews and collection plates stop filling up, maybe some pastors will get the message and refocus. Hopefully, the ones who don't get the message will just go away and let someone with a true passion for Christ's agenda instead of their own fill the leadership void.

1 comment:

  1. Years ago I had a conflict with an older friar in my community. He came to talk to me about my problems one day (they were, of course, my problems), and in the course of that very candid conversation, he told me that the things I seemed to find important were okay for "people like you who are looking for a deep spiritual life. But don't expect that from everyone in the monastery."

    I was flabbergasted. Why on earth would one come to a monastery, take vows of pverty/chastity/obedience and all the rest of it, if one were not looking for a deep spiritual life?

    As I grew older, I came to realize he was right for a couple of reasons. One: I don't know why other people do what they do, and I should not project myself onto them. Two: I don't know by what path God is leading another person, and that is God's business.

    As a former minister, I think I understand all those pastors who thought that what is so important to them must be the most important thing for so many of their people.

    I also understand how ministers can define what faith in God means purely in terms of their own experience and opinions. Thus they may see their attempts to influence public policy as integral to winning souls for Christ. Sadly, it is so easy to go off on a tangent that way. The lessons of the temptation of Christ in the desert are there for a reason. Those temptations still exist for religion today.

    Fortunately God is above and beyond and beneath and inside all of this. Otherwise, we would be the most abject of people.