New polling has revealed half of American pastors are too concerned they might offend someone to speak out on hot-button social and moral issues, but could that problem have a simple fix?
According to research from the Barna Group, the same issues pastors feel most pressured to preach about are also the ones they feel most uncomfortable addressing.
It should come as no surprise the issues at the top of the heap are homosexuality and abortion.
“The pressure for leaders, and especially faith leaders, to satisfy everyone on all sides and to avoid offense is very real today, especially in the digital era,” said Roxanne Stone, editor-in-chief of Barna. “The public nature of social media only increases the stakes.”
The majority of the push and pull pastors feel is coming from inside the congregations they lead.
Most of the pastors polled — 64 percent — said they feel limited by their own church members in their capacity to speak out on social and moral topics. By contrast, 69 percent feel pressured to address those same issues from the pulpit.
Michael Howard, senior pastor of Seaford Baptist Church in Virginia, explained in an interview with Faithwire that pastors — like everyone else — wrestle with the desire for acceptance.
“I think a lot of guys probably have thought, ‘I don’t wanna hurt my approval rating,’” he said. “It’s the same reason presidents don’t do everything they said they were gonna do.”
Is there a fix?
One of the best ways to ensure ministers don’t skirt difficult topics, such as sexual ethics and the dignity of human life, is for pastors to preach expositorily instead of topically, according to Howard, because Bible-driven preaching “forces preachers to deal with hard things.”
From that perspective, he said, it’s easier to stay true to Scripture and preach the entire Gospel, even if it offends congregants’ sensibilities.
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SOURCE: Faithwire, Tré Goins-Phillips