How Compromised Preaching Is Contributing to Our Cultural Rot by Michael L. Brown for Ask Dr Brown
For many years, I have stated that a major reason America is so messed up is that much of the American Church is also messed up. And a major reason that so much of the American Church is messed up is that so many Christian leaders are also messed up. The domino effect is quite real.
Church leaders greatly influence their followers, for better or for worse. And since Christian believers are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, if we are not fulfilling our moral and spiritual duties, this will have a deleterious effect on the nation.
And how, exactly, do Church leaders influence their followers? They do it by their message and by their example. If they are preaching rightly and living rightly, they will produce healthy congregants. If their preaching is unbiblical and their lifestyle is compromised, they will produce unhealthy congregants.
To be sure, America is not as influenced by the pulpit as it was in 1873, when Charles Finney preached that, “If the public press lacks moral discrimination… If the church is degenerate and worldly… If the world loses its interest in religion… If Satan rules in our halls of legislation… If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.”
Yet with 70 percent of Americans still professing Christianity and with evangelical Christians alone making up roughly 25 percent of the population, the Christian leaders of the nation remain influential, for better or worse.
In that light, a recent Barna survey gives lots of cause for concern, especially when it comes to the message being preached by Christian leaders.
As reported by Decision magazine, “A new study from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University (ACU), guided by popular pollster George Barna, has found that just 37% of Christian pastors in the United States have a Biblical worldview.”
Seriously? Just thirty-seven percent?
It would be bad enough if less than 4 in 10 believers held to a biblical worldview. But less than 4 in 10 pastors? How can this be?
In the words of Barna, “This is another strong piece of evidence that the culture is influencing the American church more than Christian churches are influencing the culture.”
Or, viewed from another angle, rather than Christian leaders equipping their people to swim against the tide of the culture, they too are being carried by the current of the age. And that, in turn, means that the light is not shining and the salt is not being salty.
It is a vicious cycle of moral and spiritual deterioration.
In short, when the doctors are spreading disease rather than curing disease, the populace is in big trouble.
Decision reports that, “The survey looked at eight different categories of belief and behavior, including family and the value of life; God, creation and history; personal faith practices; and sin, salvation and one’s relationship with God.”
Predictably, the heart of the problem can be traced back to beliefs about the Bible: “The survey found that the category with the lowest percentage of pastors holding a Biblical worldview is the one related to beliefs and behaviors about the Bible, truth and morality.”