The Pew Research Center has found that just over half of Americans trust religious leaders to do what's in their best interest.
Sam Rohrer, president of the American Pastors Network (APN, americanpastorsnetwork.net), says pastors can increase that trust by preaching truth from the pulpit, especially at a time when parishioners are seeking biblical guidance on a variety of controversial societal issues.
"Why don't more people trust religious leaders?" Rohrer asked. "In my opinion, it's because, in some cases, the truth is not being fully told. A flat-out lie will certainly erode trust, but for many in the pulpit, it's not that they are speaking falsehoods necessarily but may be deceiving their congregations when it comes to the gospel or faith in Jesus Christ as being the only way to heaven. Unfortunately, too many today do not preach the whole counsel of God, as the Bible instructs and as the American Pastors Network encourages."
Rohrer added that those in the pews want their church leaders to speak out on biblical issues and apply these principles to life. A separate study found that although 90 percent of theologically conservative pastors believe the Bible speaks to societal issues, fewer than 10 percent of them are teaching people what the Bible says on these topics. (Read more from the American Culture and Faith Institute.)
"The trust factor, in large part, comes down to this point: If pastors won't speak on these issues, their congregations may wonder what else their pastor is not telling them," Rohrer said. "There's no substitute for the telling the truth all the time, exactly as God has laid it out. After all, that's how He will measure us.
"There's an old phrase that says the church follows the world by 10 steps. The reality is that the failure of the church to lead puts the world about 10 steps behind. The benchmark or standard for everything we do—culturally, in the family, financially or in anything else—is the biblical standard. That's God's standard."
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