Churchgoers Stay for the Theology, Not the Music or the Pastor

The results of a new survey from Lifeway Research may come as a surprise to pastors and worship leaders.

The study found that most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher, but they will choose to leave a church if the foundational beliefs are tampered with.

These findings can serve as a wake-up call, says the American Pastors Network to pastors who may be trying to reach people through music, programs, or style rather than the substance of the Gospel.

“It is crucial that American churches return to the core of the Gospel—the true focus of who and what the church should be,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “Today’s pastors can get caught up in the style of music, programs offered, the environment, and even how leaders dress. While these things may deserve some attention, they should not be the focus. The foundation of the church must be its theological position and how strongly it is rooted in the Word of God. Rightfully so, the people in the pews realize this.”

According to the survey, most churchgoers are committed to staying at their current church for the long haul, but more than half of respondents (54 percent) said they would strongly consider leaving if the church’s core beliefs or doctrine changed.

Perhaps the reasoning for staying at a current church is that, for the most part, churchgoers say they agree with their church’s teaching. About half (52 percent) say their beliefs are completely aligned with those of the church; 42 percent say their beliefs are mostly aligned.

“We see many churches today wrestling with what should be foundational beliefs for any church, such as God’s definition of marriage, his design for sexuality and gender, and many other cultural and societal issues,” Rohrer added. “While churches must maintain biblical positions on these matters and address them from the pulpit, it is a grave mistake for them to change their foundational beliefs in order to welcome more people, appease more members, or otherwise engage the culture.”

Of the 1,000-plus surveyed, 35 percent have been at their church between 10 and 24 years, and 27 percent have been there for 25 years or more—meaning that most church members have been at their church longer than the pastor. Just under 40 percent have been at their current church for nine years or fewer. Overall, 15 percent of churchgoers say they have thought about going to another church in the past six months. Eighty-five percent say they have not.

Besides a change in church doctrine, churchgoers say several other reasons might cause them to switch:

  • 48 percent would change churches if they moved to a new home
  • 19 percent if the preaching style changed
  • 12 percent if the pastor left
  • 10 percent if a family member wanted a new church
  • 9 percent would leave over politics
  • 6 percent would leave if they didn’t feel needed
  • 5 percent if the music style changed
  • 4 percent if they had a conflict
  • 3 percent if a friend stopped attending

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

Are You “Christian” or “A Christian”?

Perhaps more than ever before, “church” is making headlines, whether it is about denominational division, pastor scandal or how religion plays into politics. But regardless, says the American Pastors Network, the core focus of the American church has strayed.

“Why are we talking about denominations?” asks APN President Sam Rohrer. “How does it affect both believers and nonbelievers? What responsibility do denominational leaders have? For one, there is a branding problem within denominations—older churchgoers want it, while the younger do not. But the question remains: Is Christianity any longer a brand? Church is now a social gathering of like-minded people. Can any of these people identify—or do they want to identify—with the things that are genuinely Christian, or with what the Bible says about the most pressing issues of our day? The answer is no.”

It is crucial, Rohrer added, that American churches return to the core of the Gospel. The foundations of denominations are being lost because of salacious headlines, which take away from the true focus of who and what the church should be.

“Christianity is becoming a way of worship that allows us to lead a moral life and be a good person, but we are pushing out the power of God and His Word,” Rohrer said. “Research shows that true Bible-believing Christians are becoming less and less. ‘Christian’ can mean: ‘I believe the Bible but never open it, I believe in the flag, I believe in the Constitution.’ But being a true Christ-follower is much different. It’s ‘being a Christian’ versus ‘being Christian.’”

APN recently debuted its new television program, “Stand in the Gap,” which considers transcending cultural issues, seemingly difficult to navigate, from a biblical worldview perspective. “Stand in the Gap” TV also seeks to bring clarity to cultural confusion and makes sense of the nonsense around us, focusing on the root problems of our nation and applies biblical principles so God’s people can know the truth.

“Stand in the Gap” TV airs weekly on WBPH-TV60, a station in the Philadelphia market that reaches a potential of 7 million viewers by cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, off-air antenna, and online. Programs air at 3pm ET Sundays and will be rebroadcast Tuesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 7:30pm Check the WBPH listings for more information on how to watch. here or view a promo for the show Learn more about the program.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Are Today’s Churches “Of the Culture” or “In the Culture”?

Much has been made recently about America’s mainline church denominations—the changes, division and uncertainty within.

But the American Pastors Network’s says the focus should be on something else—getting back on the basics of Christianity.

“Christians must unite around the core of the gospel, not divide because of man-made denominations,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “Above all, the focus must be on how to communicate the Gospel. Churches can change their music, change the way the pastor dresses, or change the public statements, but many of today’s churches are walking away from the authority of Scripture and the necessity of protecting the authority of God’s Word. That never grows old, and no one can change that without directly attacking the Word of God. Bit by bit, we are collectively retreating from a hard, fast, and firm commitment to Scripture, and searching for ways to make it more palatable to the next generation—whatever that might look like.”

Another damaging matter, Rohrer added, is churches desiring to or giving into the allure of being of the culture rather than in the culture, ultimately straying from the Gospel to meet cultural needs.

“Many churches are trying to change to become like the culture, but the long-term effects of leaving the Gospel will be damaging beyond belief,” he said. “Many elements have pervaded our country’s denominations, such as transgenderism, same-sex marriage, sexual assault, and social justice, just to name a few. The Left loves to see the divide of some of the largest of these denominations, which are doing much self-promotion, inviting media to be part of the ‘experience’ and by moving away from traditional church business and opening the doors of today’s critiques of Christianity, either through the mainstream media or social media. And all the discord is playing out in public, which is not helping the spread of the Gospel one bit.”

APN recently debuted its new television program, “Stand in the Gap,” which considers transcending cultural issues, seemingly difficult to navigate, from a biblical worldview perspective. “Stand in the Gap” TV also seeks to bring clarity to cultural confusion and makes sense of the nonsense around us, focusing on the root problems of our nation and applies biblical principles so God’s people can know the truth.

“Stand in the Gap” TV airs weekly on WBPH-TV60, a station in the Philadelphia market that reaches a potential of 7 million viewers by cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, off-air antenna, and online. Programs air at 3pm ET Sundays and will be rebroadcast Tuesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 7:30pm Check the WBPH listings for more information on how to watch. here or view a promo for the show Learn more about the program.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Sharing Faith Increasingly “Optional” for Christians

What is “optional” for Christians? Church attendance, going to Bible studies, tithing, giving to charity? As it turns out, many Christians say it’s becoming increasingly “optional” to share their faith in Christ with others.

This is the finding of a new survey from social science researcher George Barna, who is a friend of the American Pastors Network, and frequent guest on its popular daily radio program “Stand in the Gap Today.”

“Our world has changed,” said APN President and “Stand in the Gap” radio and TV host Sam Rohrer. “Decades ago, sitting with our friends, family members, neighbors, and fellow believers, often talking about our faith in God, was commonplace. Today, with how technology has drastically changed the way we interact, those conversations don’t happen nearly as much. How does this impact our faith—and the potential saving faith for others? Our good friend George Barna explores this question and gives insight on Christians feels about sharing our belief in and reliance upon Jesus.”

In 1993, Barna partnered with Lutheran Hour Ministries to research reasons why people did and did not engage in intentional outreach. Much has changed since that initial study, so 25 years later researchers asked follow-up questions to see if talk of faith has become labored in a culture that is more digital, secular, and contested than ever. The results are contained in Barna’s new report Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age.

“When was the last time you had a conversation about God?” Barna wrote to introduce the follow-up study. “For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”

Barna’s research found that a growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the Good News as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual. Today, nearly three in 10 Christians (29 percent) say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility—a threefold increase. This jump could be the result of many factors, Barna reported, including poor ecclesiology (believing “the local church” is somehow separate from the people who are a part of it) or personal and cultural barriers to sharing faith.

An even more dramatic divergence occurred on this statement: “Every Christian has a responsibility to share their faith.” In 1993, nine out of 10 Christians (89 percent) agreed, but today, just two-thirds say the same (64 percent)—a 25-point drop.

Barna will be the featured guest again on “Stand in the Gap Today” on June 7, when he will discuss the newest research.

APN’s Voting Checklist Helps Equip Christians Before Heading to Polls

As 20 States Hold Primaries Over Next Six Weeks, APN President Sam Rohrer Offers Five Questions to Guide Voters at the Ballot Box

Millions of registered voters will head to the polls over the next six weeks, with 25 states planning primaries from May 15 to June 26.

Among them is Pennsylvania, the headquarters of the American Pastors Network. APN President Sam Rohrer has been involved in politics in the Keystone State for more than 20 years and has used his own “Voting Integrity Checklist” for decades as a legislator. Now he is offering some of the same ideals from the list to voters around the country in advance of these important upcoming primaries.

“Voting truly does have a lifetime of accountability,” Rohrer said. “The faithful cannot simply choose a name on a whim, listen to the headlines of a very biased media, or go along with what the polls are dictating. Rather, voting must be a carefully considered, prayerful, and serious decision. Our prayer is that every Christian will base their voting decisions on biblical principles and wisdom, rather than emotion, news reports, or even social media.”

Decades ago, Rohrer created his “Voting Integrity Checklist,” a series of questions he developed for himself to use during his nearly 20 years in office as a legislator. It helped him ensure votes of integrity, but also to permit his fellow legislators and candidates to have a measuring stick on how to conduct themselves while in office. Ultimately, a number of Rohrer’s fellow lawmakers adopted his simple checklist.

This list, says Rohrer, is easily adaptable for voters as they head to the polls, whether in primaries or general elections:

  1. Is the issue I am voting for biblically moral? Does this candidate live by a set of biblical morals?
  2. Is this issue I am voting for constitutional? Is this candidate committed to upholding constitutional principles?
  3. Will voting for this issue preserve individual freedom and responsibility (versus strengthening government control) and does it preserve and strengthen the traditional family? Is this candidate also committed to these freedoms and ideals?
  4. Is this issue in the best interest of the general public (versus only special interests)? Does this candidate also advocate on behalf of constituents rather than special interest groups?
  5. Will the measure be governed in an efficient, effective and financially sound way? Is this candidate also committed to efficiency and sound fiscal spending?

APN is also partnering with iVoter Guide, a comprehensive, data-driven voter guide that is “grounded in God” and “rooted in research.” The guide provides voters with side-by-side comparisons of candidates for the primary elections, allowing them to identify who most closely shares their values and who has the record to back up campaign promises.

What Is God’s Plan for Israel on Its 70th Anniversary?

American Pastors Network Explores News Surrounding Israel, Iran, and More on “Stand in the Gap Today” Radio Program

It’s been a busy few days for headlines surrounding Israel—from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposing Iran’s lies to the U.S. withdrawal of the Iran nuclear deal to the impending 70th anniversary of Israel becoming a nation on May 14, 1948.

The American Pastors Network has been following all this news on its popular radio program, “Stand in the Gap Today,” heard on 425 stations around the country.

Nearly once a week, “Stand in the Gap Today” host and APN President Sam Rohrer focuses on issues surrounding Israel by welcoming expert guests on the topic, as well as addressing news coming out of the Middle East from a biblical and constitutional perspective.

“Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu called a news-shattering news conference about the lies of Iran regarding its nuclear program and figuratively shook the ground underneath the Iran nuclear deal that was deceptively negotiated between the leaders of Iran and former President Barack Obama,” Rohrer said. “But before this exposé, Israel literally shook the ground in Syria as it inflicted a wound not only against Syrian forces, but as an attack against Iran and its ambitions to destroy Israel and the United States. Although they may think it’s thousands of miles and several time zones away, Christians are directly impacted by news like this, and must be up to speed on all that is happening daily in the Middle East and how it relates back to God’s Word.

“Now more than ever, the faithful must be tuned in to God’s plans for this world, our country and the nation of Israel, which on Monday, will look back on the 70 years since becoming a nation,” he added. “Where has Israel been, where is it headed, and what is God’s plan for this nation? These are questions important to American Christians everywhere.”

“Stand in the Gap Today” will address Israel and Iran again today on the program. The show can be heard live online from noon to 1pm EST at American Pastors Network.com, or find a station.

Listen to clips from a recent “Stand in the Gap Today” program on these topics

Christian Persecution: A Reality Too Close to Ignore

PHILADELPHIA—The subject of Christian persecution has taken on a renewed focus for the American Pastors Network  in 2018, as APN leaders regularly address this global problem through its radio ministry “Stand in the Gap Today.”

APN President and “Stand in the Gap Today” host Sam Rohrer has written a new commentary for The Christian Post titled, “Christian Persecution: A Reality Too Close to Ignore.”

“Violent persecution of Christians around the world has risen to all-time highs,” Rohrer writes. “Murders, beheadings, rapes, imprisonments and evil of all types are increasingly befalling Christians. This ugly reality demands a response. While Christian persecution is nothing new, today it comes in various forms and for various reasons.

“How shall American Christians respond when their spiritual brethren are suffering persecution?” he continues. “The choices are only two: ignore it or responsibly respond to it. Ignoring anti-Christian violence is convenient and painless, but it is also anti-biblical. Turning from it may temporarily relieve our uneasiness and numb our sense of moral obligation, but we only fool ourselves. Willful ignorance of evil is fatal because it provides an illusory sense of peace. Ignoring evil cannot stop it, especially when it is aggressively on the march like it is today.”

It’s time for Christians, churches and pastors to wake up, Rohrer added. While persecution of Christians spreads like a virulent global cancer, fellow believers must ask: How far has it metastasized? Where is it happening, and what drives it?

According to trustworthy organizations like Open Doors USA and The Voice of the Martyrs, there is more persecution of Christians today than at any other time in history. On average, 255 Christians are murdered, 104 are abducted, 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage, 66 churches are attacked, and 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned each month without trial because of their faith. These numbers represent only what is known. And according to the U. S. State Department, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or their neighbors because of their personal faith in Jesus Christ.

American Pastors Network Leader Sam Rohrer: As China Pushes Toward Despotic One-Man Rule, World Should Be Shocked Into Reality That Freedom Is Not Default Position in Atheistic and God-Rejecting Nations

The American democratic process, while perhaps imperfect, ultimately gives the people the power to elect their leaders for limited terms, which allows for growth, fresh turnover and the ongoing exchange of ideas.

But in China, the process looks much different, and the American Pastors Network (APN) recently discussed China, the security threat and its position to control the world on a recent “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program, which is a ministry of APN.

On a program last week, titled “The China Security Threat: Positioning to Control the World,” APN President and “Stand in the Gap Today” host Sam Rohrer explored how President Donald Trump andVice President Mike Pence have been directly involved in China’s politics, especially as the president has announced plans for new tariffs that could change the way the U.S. and China do business together.

“While the U.S. elects leaders for two, four or six years,” Rohrer said on the show, “quietly but with enormously scary potential is China, whose parliament voted to give lifetime ruling power to Xi Jinping. May we submit: president for life, king for life or, even more likely, dictator for life? President Trump, in his comments surrounding the need to rebuild the U.S. military and his decision to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, has cited security and China’s global ambitions as some of the biggest threats to America.

“Namely, China, the largest nation in the world, has just pushed itself from moving toward democratic rule to despotic one-man rule,” Rohrer added. “The world should be horrified and shocked back into reality that freedom is not the default position in life and certainly not in atheistic and God-rejecting nations. It is this action, when combined with other major efforts to control the world, that should cause us all to sit up and pay attention to China’s efforts to control the skies and seas in its quest to control the world.”

Listen to these clips from “Stand in the Gap Today” regarding “The China Security Threat: Positioning to Control the World:”

Photo by Arol Viñolas on Unsplash

American Pastors Network’s Four-Step Approach for Knowing Where to Stand on Cultural Issues

Between 24/7 headlines and social media, news travels faster than ever before. Christians are much more aware of cultural and societal issues—even compared to a decade ago—because of the way information flows freely and rapidly.

Today, believers find themselves engaged in debates concerning gun control, religious liberties, abortion, the economy, immigration and threats to America, just to name a few—oftentimes even if they don’t want to be.

The mission of the American Pastors Network’s (APN) radio ministry, “Stand in the Gap Today,” is to equip listeners with how to think about and respond to all these issues both biblically and constitutionally.

Now, APN and “Stand in the Gap” are offering a checklist of sorts so Christians can consider almost any issue of freedom by asking four questions.

“Recently on ‘Stand in the Gap Today,’ we’ve been discussing gun control from this framework, in light of the tragic shooting that took 17 lives at a Florida school,” said APN President and radio host Sam Rohrer. “But in actuality, nearly any issue of freedom can be considered from the basic principles upon which our representative republic sits. If these considerations are not made, we will begin to lose our civil freedom, and it will not return. Decisions regarding freedom and liberty must be linked to eternal moral principles, linked to history and linked to reality.”

To help Christians consider these issues from the viewpoint of what the Bible says, what the Constitution permits, what freedom requires and what justice demands, APN has created an infographic titled “Knowing Where to Stand on Today’s Toughest Issues: A Dynamic 4-Step Approach to Evaluating Today’s Most Challenging Issues:”

  1. What does the Bible say? If God explicitly says it, we obey (Deuteronomy 30:15-19). If God is not explicit, we apply biblical principles. Example: God made mankind in His image and, therefore, all life is sacred. He mandates: Thou shalt not murder. This is explicit. Human life is sacred; therefore, abortion, euthanasia and other forms of murder violate God’s law. Self-defense and protection of life is a logical extension into the issue of weapons and defense of innocent life.
  2. What does the Constitution permit? The Constitution complements the Bible, not vice versa. Established laws must conform to the Constitution that recognizes God created rights. Example: Self-defense is biblical and a natural right; therefore, the Second Amendment recognizes and guarantees this right.
  3. What does freedom require? The end result of accepting biblical truth is freedom. Freedom is the result but also the goal. The Declaration of Independence recognizes this right and the Constitution guarantees it: our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Government’s duty is to preserve these rights. Example: The Second Amendment, and protection of innocent lives of citizens and their property, is inherent with the immigration reform debate.
  4. What does justice demand? The primary purpose of government is to enact justice—to punish the evil doer and reward those who do good. The administration of justice must conform to biblical principles and constitutional law. Example: Undermining the Second Amendment, or other rights by legislative action or by judicial activism, violates the very concept of enacting justice and fulfilling the primary purpose of government and constitutional law. 

“I believe this framework and roadmap will permit any person, whether in office or a private citizen, to come to the right solution regarding a variety of challenging issues,” Rohrer added, “providing that they, in fact, want to come to a conclusion that protects our Constitution and our freedom—that is the hinge pin.”

Listen to the program on gun control where this four-step approach is discussed: “The Parkland Killings and Gun Control: Essential Considerations to Maintain Freedom.”

 

American Pastors Network Explores Israel’s Elusive Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a warm welcome at the White House yesterday for a meeting with President Donald Trump about the hopes of soon reaching a long-sought Mideast peace agreement.

According to Fox News, “both world leaders try to make international progress amid the strains of domestic investigations into each of their governments.” Trump and Netanyahu have met several times to “discuss a range of issues beyond Israeli-Palestinian peace, with Iran, Syria and now North Korea topping their list.”

The American Pastors Network (APN) has explored the topic of “Israel’s Elusive Peace” through its daily, live radio ministry “Stand in the Gap Today.”

In recent programs, APN President Sam Rohrer, co-hosts and guests have discussed topics such as relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East; economic and natural resources development; and Israel’s internal and external threats.

“The simple reason we must support Israel is because God does,” Rohrer said. “The Jews are His chosen people, and He gave His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He would not only bless them but also bless every nation that blesses them and curse every nation that curses them. It was through the Jews that God brought the Messiah. The entire plan of redemption and all of Scripture came to us through the Jews. Throughout history, God has miraculously protected the Jewish people although the nations around them have sought to annihilate them. For these reasons, news from Israel should be extremely critical to Christians, and the importance of Israel to today’s Christian leaders cannot be overstated.”

Listen to the entire program, “Israel: Imminent Threats, Elusive Peace,” from earlier this month, as well as the following clips:

“Additionally, we cannot ignore the biblical significance of standing with God’s chosen people in Israel,” Rohrer continued. “What America does in relationship to the support of Israel is the difference between experiencing God’s blessing or God’s judgment on our nation. Additionally, Israel has long been America’s strongest ally in the Middle East, continues to be the only truly democratic nation in that region and is the only nation in the Middle East that allows true religious freedom.”

Rohrer added that the entire plan of redemption and all of Scripture came to believers through the Jews. God prophesied that He would bring His people back to the land He gave them—the land of Israel.

“He has done this and He is still doing it,” Rohrer added. “Throughout history, God has miraculously protected the Jewish people despite evil efforts to annihilate them. All Christians should desire for America to send the clear message that we will support the State of Israel, because God supports the State of Israel.”

Fox News also noted that the friendly relationship between Netanyahu and Trump is a far cry from the “frosty” reception the leader often received at the Obama White House, with Trump stating, “We have the best relationship right now with Israel that we’ve ever had.” The U.S. president is popular among many Israelis for his support of the nation, as well as his announcement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the impending relocation of the U.S. Embassy there.