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Lifeway Research: Apathy in Churches Looms Large for Pastors

In facing strong opinions about non-essentials, Lutherans (58%) and Baptists (50%) are among the most likely to say they deal with this. Lutherans (54%), Presbyterian/Reformed (51%), pastors in the Restorationist movement (51%) and Methodists (48%) are more likely than Baptists (35%) or Pentecostals (34%) to say they find people’s political views to be a challenge in their congregations. Methodists (53%) and Presbyterian/Reformed (50%) are among the most likely to say they see resistance to change in the church as a challenging people dynamic.

Most Challenging People Dynamic

When asked to narrow down all the people dynamics they identified as an issue, close to half of U.S. Protestant pastors (47%) say people’s apathy or lack of commitment is the one they find most challenging.

Around 1 in 9 pastors say the most pressing people dynamic for them is people’s political views (13%) or resistance to change in the church (12%). Fewer than 1 in 10 pastors point to people’s strong opinions about non-essentials (8%), caring too much about approval or criticism (6%) or unrealistic expectations of the pastor (6%). Another 9% say none of these are their most challenging people dynamic or they’re not sure.

“The typical church is not overrun by politics or stuck in the past, but many are,” said McConnell. “A Christ-honoring church keeps its focus on the spiritual mission of bringing people in their community the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for them. When this focus shifts to personal agendas, pastors are burdened to shift it back to the gospel.”

Evangelical pastors (51%) are more likely than mainline pastors (42%) to say their primary people dynamic challenge is people’s apathy. Similarly, pastors 65 and older (51%) are more likely than pastors 18-44 years old (42%) to say apathy is their greatest issue in this area.

At least half of Pentecostal (55%), Baptist (52%) and non-denominational pastors (52%) identify apathy as their top people dynamic concern.

The more the education, the less likely a pastor is to say their greatest people dynamic challenge is people’s lack of commitment: pastors with no college degree (58%), Bachelor’s degree (52%), Master’s degree (43%) and doctoral degree (39%).

African American pastors (22%) are the most likely to say their primary challenge with people dynamics is resistance to change in the church. Pastors at churches with fewer than 50 in attendance (15%) are more likely than pastors at churches with 250 or more (7%) to say resistance to change is their top concern in this area.

Pastors of larger churches (11%) are, however, among the most likely to say caring too much about people’s approval or criticism tops their people dynamic issues.

Pastors in the West (20%) are more likely than those in the Northeast (12%) or South (10%) to say people’s political views create their most challenging people dynamic.

“These challenging people dynamics all affect the unity within a local church,” said McConnell. “Unity matters greatly to Christ as seen in his prayer for his followers in John 17. Many things can disrupt that unity and one of the most common is not outright disagreement but silently abstaining from what the church is doing together.”

For more information, view the complete report or visit LifewayResearch.com/GreatestNeeds.

This article originally appeared here

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Aaron Earls is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net where this article originally appeared...