Marvin L. Weir
The word “pastors” in the above title is an unscriptural denominational term used to refer to people they consider to be “preachers.” This article, however, is concerned with what the research expert, George Barna, has to say. The past two years he has been attempting to gauge where what he calls “theologically conservative pastors” are politically. Chris Woodward writing for OneNewsNow says, “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.”
Barna declares, “What we are finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day 90 percent 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.”
Barna says the answer is very simple as to why such is the case. He says to ask “pastors” how one would know if their church is successful. He did such, and his questioning revealed five factors that pastors use to determine if their church is successful. Barna lists the five factors as: “Attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff, and square footage.”
Barna states that Jesus did not die for the aforementioned things (giving and attendance are commanded, MLW). He concludes his thoughts on “pastors” avoiding controversy by saying, “What I’m suggesting is those pastors probably won’t get involved in politics because it’s very controversial. Controversy keeps people from being in the seats; controversy keeps people from giving money, [and] 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 I feel they should know.’”
There are several lessons to learn from this survey of denominational “pastors.” Let us learn that:
Our Lord and Savior And The One We Are To Follow Was Controversial! Christ cleansed the temple twice during His earthly ministry. The first incident is recorded in John 2:13-17, and the final cleansing is recorded by Matthew. “And Jesus entered into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold the doves; and he saith unto them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer: but ye make it a den of robbers” (21:12-13). Such acts were not well received by the religious racketeers of the Lord’s day!
The Lord healed the blind and the lame and the chief priests and scribes “were moved with indignation” (Matt. 21:15). Christ refused to allow divorce for any reason, and His only exception for putting away a mate (sexual immorality) was and is controversial (Matt. 19:3, 9). Jesus declared Himself to be the Son of God and King of the Jews and they hated Him and demanded He be crucified (John 19:15). The Lord’s message and His claims were controversial.
Controversy is no excuse for abandoning the truth. The Lord’s words to Nicodemus must never be forgotten: “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved” (John 3:19-20).
Truth Determines Success And Not Worldly Ambition! The “pastors” main concerns were large crowds, lots of money, popular programs, large staffs, and a super facility. No Scriptures were given for these essentials for success because there are none. But denominational “pastors” have never been concerned with Bible truths, or they would not be wearing titles and teaching false doctrine! These non-controversialists roll with the flow in order to appease their followers and fill the pews.
Many so-called elders and preachers in the Lord’s church have been giving more attention to denominationalism than the Bible. There are now multi-million dollar congregations that accept anyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ. Entertainment and recreation is in and Bible classes and quoting Scriptures are out! Both men and women are on the “staff” that numbers twice that of the apostles. The Bible is ignored but the programs are impressive! A non-judgmental attitude is demanded and church discipline is a relic of the past. The members demand to live worldly lives and worship as they please. This carnival atmosphere is exciting and pleases those who are willing to trample sacred matters underfoot.
Jeremiah told the hypocrites of his day, “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, are these” (7:4). It seems that these Jews were convinced that since they were God’s people and in God’s house that Jehovah would approve of their ungodly actions. No so! There are those today who think that because they were baptized and assemble once or twice a week that they can live and worship in a way that pleases them. Not so! In that Day, however, Bible truth will determine success and not worldly standards!
The Hireling’s Mission Is Not The Lord’s Mission! Barna said the tendency of denominational “pastors” seemed to be this: “My mission is to bring in more people and to get them to understand certain things I feel they should know.” Now where is the Scripture that says one is to teach others certain things he feels they should know? On the other hand, Paul told Timothy: “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Paul also stressed the wisdom of abiding in God’s Word. He said, “And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).
Jesus came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Truth and error cannot be successfully mixed together. One should “buy the truth, and sell it not” (Prov. 23:23), but that would be controversial, would it not? Many would consider the price to uphold truth to steep. Only Judgment will change their minds—but too late!