Study: Pastors avoid controversy to maintain their cashflow and congregations


pulpit-300x199The reason many pastors avoid controversial issues that are surrounding us today is because they are afraid of losing members in their churches and the consequent cash flow that goes along with them, according to a new study by Barna Research.

In an interview with American Family Radio, George Barna, founder of the California-based group, said research shows that 90% of ministers believe the Bible deals with most of today’s issues, but only 10% have to guts to preach as they should. He added that fear of empty seats in their auditoriums and less money for projects keeps them silent on political and social issues.

However, defending the preachers of America, Rev. Angela Dienhart Hancock, assistant professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in East Liberty, said she does not believe Barna’s figures. She adds that her experience is that many pastors deal with social, political or cultural issues from the pulpit and they combine their sermons with Biblical examples.

Hancock went on to say that even if it is only a few pastors that tackle the most difficult topics, it doesn’t mean to say they are taking the cowardly way out to avoid losing money. She adds that maybe the reason most pastors don’t preach long sermons on tougher controversial issues is that they would probably bore their congregations to sleep.

Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, president and dean, Rev. Justyn Terry, tends to agree with Hancock.

According to Terry, preaching long sermons where there is no dialogue between the pastor and his members is not a good idea in churches, especially where the congregation wants to grow in their faith and love for one another. He added that the tougher controversial issues should be tackled in adult forums or ministry groups and not within the general population of the church.

Samuel Rohrer, former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives said that pastors should not be afraid to preach what they believe.

Rohrer went on to say “The reality that so quite a few pastors are extra concerned with the size of their buildings and church bank accounts than with the situation of the souls they shepherd is devoid of excuse.” He continued, “If the main objective is to see people today leave on Sunday morning feeling excellent 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.”