According to the latest survey by LifeWay Research, U.S. Protestant Pastors are apparently more unwilling to address issues of race to their congregation than they were four years ago.
The findings showed that in 2020, 74 percent of pastors agreed that their church would welcome a sermon on racial reconciliation, with 32 percent saying they strongly agree that their congregations would welcome the sermon and 42 percent saying they somewhat agreed. This is a decline from 2016, when 90 percent of pastors said their congregants would welcome a sermon on racial reconciliation, with 57 percent saying they strongly agree and 33 percent saying they somewhat agree.
LifeWay also found that 17 percent of pastors said that their congregants would not be open to hearing sermons on racial reconciliation as opposed to 7 percent in 2016.
Scott McConnel, executive director of LifeWay Research, explained that most pastors are attuned to what sermon topics their congregation wants 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,” McConnell said. “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.”
The study revealed that 93 percent of African pastors were more eager than white pastors (73 percent) or pastors of other ethnicities (74 percent) to say that their church would want to hear a sermon on racial reconciliation.
When it comes to church size, 83 percent of pastors with congregations of 250 or more said their churches would be receptive to a sermon on the topic.
Amongst denominations, Methodists (83 percent), Presbyterian/Reformed (79 percent), Pentecostals (78 percent) and Baptists (74 percent) are more likely to say their churches would welcome racial reconciliation sermons from the pulpit as opposed to pastors of Lutheran churches (59 percent).
LifeWay Research surveyed 1,007 American Protestant pastors between Sept. 2 - Oct. 1, 2020, using both online and phone interviews on their views on racial reconciliation.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.