Few issues polarize our culture as much as issues of marriage and origins. But, sadly, those who think biblically on these issues are getting fewer and fewer, even within the church. Part of the reason is that most pastors are neglecting to disciple their congregations on these vital issues.
According to recent research by the Barna Group, “a vast majority of theologically conservative pastors believe the Bible speaks to societal issues, but fewer than 10 percent of these pastors are teaching people what the Bible says on these topics.” These are issues like homosexuality, abortion, politics, pornography, and adultery. Though not specifically mentioned in the research, topics relating to Genesis should certainly be added to this list. Less than 10% of pastors are speaking on these issues! And yet what do people in our churches—especially young people—need most to have answers to? Issues like these!
Secularists are becoming increasingly aggressive in pushing their worldview of atheism, humanism, evolution, and relative morality on young people. Sadly, young people, even those within the church, are buying into this anti-biblical worldview. Recently Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has published a startling new book called Ready To Return. This books looks at the beliefs of the 20-somethings (millennials) who remain in our churches. According to the research in this book (conducted by Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group), 45% of these millennials think homosexual behavior isn’t a sin or they don’t know if it is and 40% agree with the SCOTUS decision to legalize gay “marriage.” 65% think that good people get to heaven and 40% say they aren’t born again. 35% think the Bible has errors and 20% think that books other than the Bible are equally inspired by God. These are deplorable beliefs that run completely contrary to Scripture. These beliefs show the influence of our cultures’ thinking in the minds of church youth. Tolerance (a false definition of tolerance, really) is praised and Christianity is simply modified to meet this new definition and ideal.
Sadly, based on the Barna Group’s research, it doesn’t appear that pastors are actively equipping their congregations to think biblically about hot-button issues. So young people are being left adrift in a culture that demands that they think like them. Instead of having a solid foundation on which to base their thinking—God’s Word—they are being lied to by the culture and are buying into it. And the result is a church full of young people (the future leaders of the church and parents of the next generation!) who think no differently from the world.
The American Pastors Network gives several reasons why pastors are avoiding these controversial issues and they basically boil down to a fear of man, rather than a fear of God. They write, “controversy keeps people from being in the seats, controversy keeps people from giving money, from attending programs.” It’s also worth noting that many young pastors are graduating from liberal seminaries where God’s Word is not taught as the absolute authority and so they are probably struggling to relate to the culture in a biblical way because they haven’t been taught to think biblically themselves.
Now, pastors have a difficult job shepherding the people of God. It is a huge responsibility and teaching on controversial issues can be challenging, especially if doing so can decrease attendance or giving. But, pastors, you are on the fronts lines of discipleship and training. You have a responsibility to teach the next generation to think and act biblically. And this responsibility cannot be neglected. The result is rampant compromise and a generation that is morally adrift.
So how do you teach on these topics? Well, one way is to begin in Genesis. This first book lays the foundation for the rest of Scripture’s teachings and doctrines. Show your congregation that God is the Creator and therefore only He has the right to set the rules. Show how marriage is grounded in God’s created order so no government or Supreme Court has the authority to redefine what God has made. Demonstrate how we are all sinners because of Adam and Eve but Christ came to pay our penalty of death—that is why we must be born again and why being “good enough” will never get you into Heaven. Starting with Genesis, it’s much easier to see how God’s Word makes sense of the world.