A recent study reveals that pastors are now more hesitant to cover topics on racial reconciliation than in 2016.
The Christian Headlines reported that the latest survey by LifeWay Research revealed that more pastors, especially Protestant preachers, are unwilling and hesitant to address issues regarding race when four years ago in 2016, pastors are more open to addressing racial reconciliation.
In the latest findings, 74 percent of pastors agreed sermons discussing racial reconciliation would be welcome in their church. While the number is still highly significant, it presented a massive decline of 16 percent four years ago when 90 percent of pastors agreed on discussing the same issues.
The ones who said that they strongly agree that racial topics are welcome as topics in their congregations also dwindled to just 32 percent when it was at a rate of 57 percent in 2016, losing a total of 25 percent within four years.
The rate of those who somewhat agreed to hearing sermons on racial issues rose by 42 percent when it was down by 11 points at 33 percent in the last survey.
Aside from the agreement of the congregation, LifeWay also revealed that there is a higher percentage of church people who are opposed to hearing sermons from their pastors that tackle racial reconciliation. From a mere seven percent in 2016, the numbers went up to 17 percent.
The executive director of LifeWay Research, Scott McConnel explained that while pastors are not bound to creating sermons that their congregations just want to hear, it would be helpful to know about sermon topics that the congregation do want to hear.
"While most pastors' teaching is not limited to things their congregation wants to hear, it is helpful to know the reaction pastors anticipate from their congregation. Instead of a majority strongly agreeing, now only a third of pastors have no hesitation that their congregation would welcome a sermon on racial reconciliation," McConnel explained.
The survey also revealed that churches with a congregation of 250 members or more are more likely to be receptive with receiving sermons on racial reconciliations with 83 percent of pastors agreeing on the matter.
African pastors are also more eager to share sermons on the topic with 93 percent compared to white pastors with just 73 percent. About 74 percent of pastors from other ethnicities are open to doing a sermon on racial issues and said that their church would be open to hear such a sermon.
Church Leaders pointed out that one of the reasons why pastors might be more hesitant to share on topics that addresses racial issues is the negative feedback of the congregation.
According to McConnel, "The typical pastor is addressing racial reconciliation from the pulpit and without pushback from their congregation. However, the noticeable increase in pastors avoiding the topic and receiving criticism could signal there are new dynamics emerging."
On the other hand, 21 percent of the total respondents from 1,007 pastors admitted that they still have church leaders asking for sermons that tackle racial reconciliation, though the number has been down from 25 percent in 2016.