(OPINION) Scripture is full of promises for those who follow Christ — both for the present and the future. Yet nearly a quarter way through the 21st century, the Church is facing some of its most dire challenges yet. Recent poll findings suggest it’s not just unbelievers who are cool towards the Bible and its teachings but also those who already identify as Christians.
A newly released study from the Nashville-based Lifeway Research has found apathy inside the Church was cited as the most common “people dynamic” challenge facing pastors today.
Lifeway’s “Greatest Needs Of Pastors” study asked 1,000 Protestant pastors to identify the primary people dynamic challenges they face in their churches. The pastors were surveyed between March 30 and April 22, 2021.
Their overwhelming response? Apathy or lack of commitment. The survey found that three-quarters of pastors surveyed (75%) listed “People’s apathy or lack of commitment” when asked to identify the “people dynamics” they find challenging in their ministry. That was the only challenge that more than half of pastors identified.
These appear to be self-identified followers of Jesus Christ apathetic to Christ’s Church. Coming in a long second, third and fourth place in the survey were responses like “People’s strong opinions about nonessentials” (48%), “Resistance to change in the church” (46%), and “People’s political views” (44%).
“It can be easy for a church member to check the box and say, ‘I’m doing some activities, I’m coming to church’ … and feel like they’re doing enough. And yet, if they are not participating, they’re really missing out on some pretty big parts,” Lifeway Research Executive Director Scott McConnell told The Christian Post.
“We see all throughout Scripture that God cares a lot about us caring for our neighbors and actually doing things to show love to our neighbors, and when He called us to follow Him, He called us to do that together in a local body of believers, and He gave that body of believers a specific mission — to share the Gospel with those who have not heard it.”
The findings come as Christian apologist and author J. Warner Wallace has argued that apathetic views on spirituality — particularly among millennials and Generation Z — pose a greater threat to Christianity than atheism.
These are views that aren’t specifically anti-Christian or anti-religion, but rather ambivalent towards Christianity or religion in general. Meanwhile, a Barna Group survey from 2018 suggests that more people in “Generation Z” — traditionally defined as those born between 1999 and 2015 — identify themselves as agnostic, atheist, or not religiously affiliated than any other generation.
Barna found that 35% of Generation Z teens considered themselves atheist, agnostic, or not affiliated with any religion compared to 30% of millennials, 30% of Generation X, and 26% of Baby Boomers. FULL REPORT