Barna: Many pastors wary of raising 'controversy'

Friday, August 1, 2014
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Many theologically conservative pastors agree the Bible speaks to key issues of the day, but research indicates only a handful of them say they will speak to it.

On Thursday, George Barna – research expert and founder of The Barna Group – shared with American Family Radio's "Today's Issues" about new information he's compiling at American Culture and Faith Institute over the last two years, gauging where theologically conservative pastors are at politically.

"What we're finding is that 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. 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."

When researchers ask those pastors what else they are willing to do to get their people active in the political process, Barna said "it's almost nothing."

"So the thing that struck me has been that when we talk about the separation of church and state, it's that churches have separated themselves from the activities of the state – and that's to the detriment of the state and its people," stated the researcher.

Why the disconnect? According to Barna, the answer is simple. He suggests asking pastors how someone would know if their church is "successful" – which he did.

Barna

"There are five factors that the vast majority of pastors turn to [when asked that question]," he explained. "Attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff, and square footage.

"Now all of those things are good measures, except for one tiny fact: Jesus didn't die for any of them," Barna continued. "What I'm suggesting is [those pastors] won't probably get involved in politics because it's very controversial. Controversy keeps people from being in the seats, controversy keeps people from giving money, from attending programs.

"As they look at things, their tendency is to say, Well, that's not part of my mission; my mission is to bring in more people and to get them to understand certain things that I feel they should know."

Barna also thinks it has something to do with the training of pastors.

"When you look at what they get in Bible school or in the seminary, they are not taught to get people engaged in these particular issues," he shared. "They are taught just to exegete scriptures; they are taught something about the history of where those scriptures came from – but they are not prepared."

Barna is hoping that through the research they can encourage pastors as well as conservative voters across the country to be better informed and to be more active and more influential in the political process.

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