Pastors are concerned about the political views of the members of their congregation and believe it to be "problematic."
More than one third of America's Protestant pastors think that the political views of their church members are concerning, as per a new survey. These same pastors believe that members too often have "strong opinions about nonessentials."
According to Christian Headlines, a new Lifeway Research survey on 1,000 Protestant pastors revealed that 44% of them said they find "people's political views" challenging to navigate. The same survey found that almost half or 48% of pastors said "people's strong opinions about nonessentials" are also a challenge. Only 35% said that "people's unrealistic expectations of the pastor" were concerning to them.
Pastors are Increasingly Concerned About People's Political Views
The Lifeway Research poll revealed that among pastors aged 18 to 44 years old, 47% were most likely to admit that political views of their church members were a concern. Meanwhile, 48% of pastors in the Midwest and 50% of pastors in the West more more likely to name political views as an area of concern compared to just 40% of pastors in the South.
The survey also revealed that Lutherans who made up 54%, Methodists who made up 48%, Presbyterian/Reformed who made up 51%, and Christian/Church of Christ pastors who made up 51% were more likely to choose "people's political views" than Baptists, who made up 35%, and Pentecostals, who made up 34%. About 49% of pastors of churches with an attendance of 250 people or more were also more likely to select politics than those pastors (38%) with an attendance of up to 49.
Politics are One of the Greatest Concerns of Pastors Today
The Lifeway Research survey also asked pastors which of six possible answers they believed was the "most" challenging when it comes to their ministry. The number one answer of 47% of pastors was "people's apathy or lack of commitment," followed by political views, which 13% of pastors answered. In fourth place was strong opinions about nonessentials, which 8% of pastors answered.
"Congregations are filled with many opinions," Lifeway Research executive director Scott McConnell explained. "It is not easy to bring a congregation's focus to a few things to do together that matter. People's obsession with nonessentials, politics and a dislike for change all hamper a pastor's ability to provide leadership."
Research companies are not the only organizations that are observing a political rift within churches. WBUR reported that it is also being observed by the media. In a story by Tim Alberta for The Atlantic, he compares two pastors in Michigan and how they preach to their congregation. Pastor Bill Bolin, according to the writer, does "harness political and cultural grievance and really weave it into the fabric of the church."
Meanwhile, Pastor Ken Brown is trying to preach to his church members that while it is alright to be politically engaged, one's "duties as a Christian should come first" and that in being politically engaged, one must "be engaged and informed by things that are true."