Pastors Deliberately Choosing Not to Preach on Pressing Issues, New Research Finds

American Pastors Network Says Clergy Must Not Keep Silent on Critical Societal Topics

PHILADELPHIA—New research shows that while 90 percent of pastors believe the Bible has much to say about today’s pressing political and societal issues, less than 10 percent are talking about those issues from the pulpit.

Researcher George Barna spoke recently on American Family Radio’s “Today’s Issues” about his research project over the past two years, in which the Barna Group 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.

What he found was startling.

“…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,’” Barna told American Family Radio. “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.”

Sam Rohrer, President of the American Pastors Network (APN,, says that while it is clear that there is a disconnect between knowing the Truth and preaching it, the real question is why. Avoiding the politically unpopular portions of Scripture is in some respects understandable from a human perspective. From God’s perspective, however, it is sin.

“The reality is that most people, including pastors, wish to be comfortable and to avoid controversy,” Rohrer said. “If the primary goal is to see people leave on Sunday morning feeling good about themselves and feeling comfortable rather than seeing the holiness of God and the ugly reality of sin, then a pastor will answer to God for doing his own will rather than declaring God’s will. The issues of the day that confront our nation must be dealt with from the pulpit if God’s Word is to make a difference in people’s lives and if the culture is to be impacted. This includes the areas of marriage and divorce, life and family, but it also includes the areas of honesty, servant leadership, following the Rule of Law, etc.”

Barna added 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,” Barna said.

He also found that when asked how they measure the success of their churches, most pastors look to five factors: “attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff and square footage.”

“The fact that so many pastors are more concerned with the size of their buildings and church bank accounts than with the condition of the souls they shepherd is without excuse,” Rohrer continued. “By abdicating their responsibility as Ministers of God to ‘preach the Word’ in favor of square footage, many pastors are, in essence, saying God’s Word is not really authoritative. In reality, a pastor—or an person for that matter—who feels they have the right to pick and choose what portions of Scripture they will believe or teach, rather than preach the ‘whole counsel of God’ have in effect made themselves god.  This is why the American Pastors Network is building an infrastructure of pastors across the country who believe in the absolute authority of Scripture and who will boldly proclaim it from the pulpit.”

7 replies
  1. Lil Boysen
    Lil Boysen says:

    from your lips to God’s ears !! Rob and I feel as you do. Our former pastor retired the end of June. He was a wonderful pastor, a loving human and a true American. We enjoyed going to the service especially patriotic services…he showed his love of country. But so many pastors are restrained from speaking as they want to regarding life as it is. Therefore, some leave.

    In the days of our founding fathers, news of country was said from the pulpit. Those days are gone for many. What is the answer?

  2. Michael Parnell
    Michael Parnell says:

    On one hand, this is disheartening. We talk about “career” politicians that need to be removed from Washington, but we have a slew of “career pastors and ministers” who need to be removed from the pulpits if they are not going to preach the truth of the Word!
    On the other hand, we realize that God almost always does His most powerful work with the minority! Gideon, David, Shammah, Jehoshaphat, etc.
    So the 10% may even shrink up before God performs His most awesome move, yet!!! I refuse to be discouraged!!! Hallelujah!!!

  3. Sandra Slater
    Sandra Slater says:

    I will open with this statement that George Washington penned. “If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent like sheep we may be led to the slaughter”. I believe that Michael Voris has called this “The Church of nice”. At what price!

    Pastors have the platform to reach many people. But since this is not happening, lay people need to speak out by getting letters published in the newspapers as many are doing except that we need more people to do this. And perhaps they can contact the TV and Radio stations.

  4. David Crowe
    David Crowe says:

    Sam, et al.,

    A large part of the problem is that way too many of our church boards are dominated by men who are more committed to ensuring the church properties are paid for than they are the proclamation of truth from the Word of God. They are also steeped in the secular notion of the “separation of church and state” that was adopted in the 1947 Everson vs. Board of Education SCOTUS decision that was unprecedented and unfounded and has been used by the ACLU, the democrat party and now the atheists to drive everything Christian out of our schools, public buildings and now speech itself. The only way to reverse this is for Bible Believing Evangelical Christians to be far more engaged in electing Christian World View candidates to public office, starting this November with the US Senate as well as State legislators and Governorships. When over 30 million of us who are eligible to vote, do not vote, we are responsible for the demise of the nation by our absence from the battlefield. We are not only AWOL, we are worse still…deserters.

    Start there, and begin the process of educating your Christian friends and office holders about the Everson Case, the legitimate legal arguments against it, and our need as a nation to return to the foundations our Forefathers won for us with blood and tears and great loss to themselves and their families.

  5. Michael Moysel
    Michael Moysel says:

    Thank you to those who presented the opening commentary and statistics above, and to those who already have offered their responses. All most interesting but also provocative. Please permit me to point out that some hard facts seem unrecognized in your collective commentary. In my frankness I am, in a sense, a teller of truth, similar to the supposedly-fearless pastors you extol as good examples … Mainly, please may I point out that literally dozens of churches nor (Spring 2017) stand empty, continually deserted, on the real estate market, and semi-derelict. I know, because I am hoping to buy one and revitalize and cause it to be re-inhabited. The reason for their closure is, in multiple cases, because they ran out of funds, lost congregation numbers, were unable to survive financially. The bottom line is that bank-balance DOES matter. Of the many definitions of ‘Speaking Truth”, one is that losing donations, losing the revenue from passing-the-contributions-plate (which depends on the size of Sabbath attendances), losing the ability of Bishoprics and, Church HQs to keep a parish alive, spells doom/closure/emptier and emptier pews as the collective spirit wanes. Emptier pews often are the consequence of pastors’ fearless sermonizing. One can be caught between the rock of firm respect for a fearless pastor, on one hand, and, on the other, the hard place of a parish unable to pay its bills. How many of you have an accurate, updated, reliable count of the number of empty churches in your state at this moment. Here where I reside, it is in the dozens, in some cities alone more than a dozen and in many towns more than 3 or 4 and in some villages more than one. Bear in mind that what I refer to here is not merely the empty building … Instead, alas, it is the lost congregation. There are ways to change that dismal situation, i.e., non-polemical ways. But to recognize those ways, and to perceive how it could be offset, requires more than rehashing – as some of you have done in your blog response above – just the usual, already-well-known, debate points.M main reason for wanting to afford, own, and manage the church I now hunt for, is to do things in THAT way, the imaginative way, yet completely the good spiritual way.
    Thank you for reading my response.


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