Even with Critical Cultural Issues to Address, Many Pastors are Basically ‘Motivational Speakers’
Dr. Alex McFarland: Society is Counting on the Church for Hard Truth, Even If It’s Uncomfortable
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—It’s early in the week. How many American Christians are still reflecting on a hard-hitting Sunday sermon their pastors delivered just a couple of days ago?
Probably not many, says author, religion and culture expert, and national radio host Dr. Alex McFarland (www.AlexMcFarland.com). The reason? More and more pastors are resorting to covering the “safe” topics in today’s American churches.
“It’s time to call out many pastors for what they’ve become: B-grade motivational speakers,” said McFarland, who has preached in every state in the nation. “The excuses are many: that people will be offended, that giving will decrease, that leaders will leave the church, and many more. But there should be no excuse for not preaching on the most critical issues of our time in today’s American church. We can’t hear truth in the media or anywhere else in society. Society is counting on the church to explain God’s take on moral issues, political issues and hard truth in an honest, relatable way, even if it is uncomfortable. We ministers must not fail in our duty to proclaim truth at this time!”
Research backs up McFarland’s observations. Last summer, the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) polled 600 Protestant pastors about how often they had preached about the top culturally relevant issues. The results were dismaying. In fact, between the 2014 and 2016 elections, the percentages of pastors who addressed these hard-hitting topics plummeted.
For example, in 2014, 48 percent of pastors preached on the topic of abortion, but two years later, just 26 percent tackled this issue. Numbers were similar for other issues as well: Immigration (17 percent in 2014 vs. 8 percent in 2016); Israel (24 percent in 2014 vs. 11 percent in 2016); religious freedom (63 percent in 2014 vs. 36 percent in 2016); and Islam (38 percent in 2014 vs. 13 percent in 2016). Read more about the study here.
“We are witnessing the unraveling of Western civilization,” McFarland added. “Now is the time for pastors to deliver their most powerful sermons of their lives and to argue on the matters important not only to Christians, but to all people. If ever there was a time to wax eloquent with the best we can muster, this is it. Yet today’s pastors are talking about how to communicate better with spouses. And while that is important, there are life-and-death issues happening right in our culture, and the nation’s churches are turning a blind eye. For this, we deserve to be carted off in shackles for not preaching, praying and evangelizing more fervently than we ever have.”
McFarland recently debuted his newest book, co-authored with apologist and evangelist Jason Jimenez, called “Stand Strong in Your Faith: Live What You Believe with Confidence and Passion.” The guide provides Christians with insight and encouragement to keep the faith during the toughest times of life. “Stand Strong in Your Faith,” released earlier this month, is available from BroadStreet Publishing.
In another of his new books, “Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home,” also co-authored with Jimenez, McFarland explores why millennials are leaving the church, instructs how those who love millennials can bring them back, and offers the hope of Christ to parents, especially as they seek to understand what propels their adult children as they begin to come into their own.