A study from Lifeway Research found that more than half of U.S. Protestant pastors believe there are modern-day idols that have great influence over church members.
The study found that about 67 percent of pastors believe comfort is an idol, 56 percent believe security is an idol, and 51 percent believe approval is an idol. These idols, pastors said in the survey, are significantly influencing congregations.
Between the choice of comfort and control/security, pastors largely chose comfort (30 percent) over security (20 percent) as the top modern-day idol.
“It’s easy to think that those in Christian churches have chosen their God and are faithful to Him,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “However, pastors quickly acknowledge how divided their congregations’ allegiances can be. These gods don’t have a physical shine, but they compete for the hearts of Christians.”
Other idols listed in the study were success (49 percent), social influence (46 percent), political power (39 percent) and sex or romantic love (32 percent).
Only 14 percent of pastors in the study said none of these were idols in their churches, and 2 percent said they were unsure.
“The large differences we see between younger and older pastors cannot be definitively explained by this study,” McConnell said. “There are signs that younger pastors are of the mindset that idols are rampant today, whereas older pastors may be slower to classify one of these as having significant influence on their people, or they may define idols more narrowly.”
Other findings include:
- White pastors are more likely than African American pastors to identify political power (41 percent v. 29 percent) and approval (53 percent v. 40 percent) as idols in their churches.
- African American pastors are more likely than white pastors to say none of these are idols in their churches (25 percent v. 13 percent).
- Pastors with master’s degrees (64 percent) or doctoral degrees (57 percent) are more likely than those with no college degree (43 percent) to say money is an idol in their churches.
- Pastors with master’s degrees (67 percent) or doctoral degrees (64 percent) are more likely than those with bachelor’s degrees (47 percent) or without college degrees (38 percent) to say control or security.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Marchmeena29
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.