THE OVERWHELMING ODDS ARE THAT YOUR PASTOR IS KEEPING THE TRUTH FROM YOU INSTEAD OF PREACHING ABOUT IT
Recent research confirms what I have been warning about for years. The majority of the pulpits of American Churches have unfaithful watchmen who won’t fully do their job as God’s spokesmen. (If you are not one of these preachers, or if you don’t have one of these preachers in your pulpit, you are rare indeed.) I’m thankful for the many faithful men of God that serve the Lord and their people with an authentic heart of love for the truth, and the willingness to stanchly proclaim the truth in love. I want to make it very clear that this is not a put down towards preachers, but a clear trumpet blast to wake-up and become alarmed at what we are seeing!
Carolyn and I were riding together a couple of nights ago, listening to a preacher on our local Christian station. This man, who is now gone to be with the Lord, was so powerful and straight with his message. He did not mix words, but laid out the truth, without fear or compromise. When he was finished, I turn to Carolyn and asked, “Now why can’t we find more men of God like that today? Why are pastors so afraid to tell the truth, even when they know it is in the Bible?”
It is so troublesome to me to watch, in over four decades of rubbing shoulders with pastors all across this country, a developing trend among our church leaders to minimize the message at the expense of having a “successful” church. I say this with a broken heart; I fear for the direction our ministers are taking our churches.
George Barna is the foremost researcher of modern Christianity in the country. He recently spoke about a two-year research project studying why modern-day pastors and churches are so silent regarding political issues. The result of his research only confirms what I have been trying to tell people for years. (It is available in a book entitled, “U-Turn: Restoring America to the Strength of its Roots”)
According to Barna’s two-year investigation, about 90% of pastors believe that the Bible speaks to key issues of our day, and yet, disappointedly, less than 10% say that they, as pastors, speak about them from the pulpit.
That 90% of America’s pastors are not addressing any of the most important issues affecting Christian people’s political or societal lives should cause alarms to go off – but that is not going to happen – BECAUSE THE CHURCHES APPEARS TO LOVE IT THAT WAY…
Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and MY PEOPLE LOVE TO HAVE IT SO…”
This is very alarming to me as an evangelist. I have visited churches from one end of our nation to the other, working with both conservative and liberal views, but I can never remember a time like this. When we see our pastors, the leaders, the shepherds of God’s little flock, ignoring the issues that face them day by day, I can’t seem to understand why this is not being openly rebuked and challenged!
Did you get that? 90% of America’s pastors say they KNOW that the Bible speaks to all of these issues, but they are deliberately determined NOT to teach Biblical principles in answer to them! That is an amazing admission! It would be one thing if the pastors would claim that none of these issues have any relevance with the Word of God, but these men are admitting that it does, but they continue to deliberately choose NOT to teach the Scriptural principles from their pulpits!
Does this alarm you? Does this bother you? Understand, we are not talking about IGNORANT pastors who don’t know about these things – we are talking about DISOBEDIENT pastors – who refuse to speak up! They choose to remain silent!
But, according to Barna, the report found that when these pastors were asked how to know if their church was “successful”, Barna found five factors that the vast majority of the pastor turned to:
1) Attendance – how many go on Sunday morning
2) Giving – how much money is coming in
3) Number of programs – how busy they are
4) Number of staff – how many associates serves you
5) Square footage of the facilities – how big is your building
What does all this reveal?? It reveals that the majority of pastors are more concerned about being “successful” than they are being TRUTHFUL. They believe if they tell their congregations the truth, their churches will not be as “successful”! This is how hell is lying to preachers! And it’s working! But where are these men getting these ideas, because they are NOT found in the Bible?
Like it or not, our pastors are trying to “keep up with the Jones’s”! They look around and see all the megachurches on TV, they watch these “big-time” preachers with their “big-time” crowds, making “big-time” money, living in “big-time” houses, driving “big time” cars and having a “big-time” name and their knees buckle under the temptation to follow the latest fad that has taken the church by storm.
ASK ALMOST ANY PASTOR if he has read anything recently on church growth and he’ll look at you like you’re insane, “Well, sure I have – several books!” Ask that same pastor if he has read anything recently on prayer, holiness or revival and he’ll look at you like you’re insane, “Why would I want to read about that?”
I’ve been to hundreds of the pastor’s meetings, the luncheons, the conferences, the conventions, and they’re all the same. I just stand around and listen to these guys talk “preacher talk”…they’re all comparing notes with each other, with the same questions time after time: “How many are you running now?”, or “How big is your sanctuary?”, or “What’s your budget for this year?”, or “How many do you have on your staff now?”
Most of these men are mesmerized by the likes of Joel Osteen, Rick Warren or Bill Hybels – these men are the “heroes” of today’s pulpiteers, or should I say, “puppeteers”. I’M AFRAID WE’VE EXCHANGED PROPHETS FOR PUPPETS IN MOST OF OUR PULPITS!
(I know, some of you are mad because I just named names, but please, keep reading…)
What we have today are men who have exchanged truth for “what works”. The best they can do is the only way they’ve been trained – just mimic the tactics and strategies of other “successful church growth experts” and you too can have a “successful church”. And what one thing is identical in the Osteen, Warren, and Hybels approach? The pastors avoid controversy like the plague!!
Remember, they are taught that one must realize that the goal is NOT being faithful to Biblical principles; the goal is building a “successful” church. Ladies and Gentlemen; the “success bug” has bitten these guys and they can’t stop now.
It is time for Christians to acknowledge that these ministers are not PASTORS of God’s flock; they are CEOs OF A BUSINESS ADVENTURE. They are not BIBLE TEACHERS; they are PERFORMERS. They are not SHEPHERDS, who would lay down their lives; they are HIRELINGS, who run from conflicts!
It is also time for Christians to be honest with themselves: do they want a pastor who desires to be faithful to the scriptures, or do they want a pastor who is simply trying to be “successful?”
BE HONEST, BECAUSE EVERY CHURCH DESERVES ITS PASTOR!
George Barna’s research blows the “ignorance” excuse out of the water. Again, it is not ignorance; it is deliberate disobedience. He goes on to say, “Now all of those things [the five points of success listed above] are good measures, except for one tiny fact: Jesus didn’t die for any of them.” Wow! Somebody better pay attention!
How different the church is today! It looks very little like the original! The preachers don’t look the same either. When John the Baptist preached, he didn’t need to give out “free camel rides” to get a crowd – he preached REPENTANCE – and it got his head cut off. Was that a successful minister by today’s standards? NO! But Jesus thought he was successful! (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28)
When the Apostle Paul listed his ministerial pedigree and credentials in 2 Corinthians 11, it looks nothing like our “big time” preachers today! Here is what Paul’s looked like:
*Stripes above measure
*In prisons frequently
*In deaths often
*Beaten with rods
*Hunger and thirst
*Cold and nakedness
I don’t see attendance, offerings, programs, staff, or square footage in that list at all; do you? Maybe Paul lived by a different standard then today’s hotshot preachers!
When Paul wrote his own epitaph, it read, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:7). He didn’t say, “I had a large congregation, we had big offerings, we had a lot of programs, I had a large staff, and we had large facilities.”
In the world of “Pimping Preachers” and “Life Coaches in the Pulpits”, men in the ministry like John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul must be labeled as a dismal failure! I wonder how many church pulpit committees would even consider the pastoral résumé such as what the Apostle Paul wrote above?
Like it or not, I’m convinced that America’s problems are directly due to the deliberate disobedience of America’s pastors – and the willingness of the Christians in the pews who tolerate the disobedience of their pastors, who are more concerned over their tax-exempt status than they are at proclaiming the truth! God help us!