Most Protestant Pastors Say ‘Apathy’ Is the Most Challenging ‘People Dynamic’ They Face

Most Protestant Pastors Say ‘Apathy’ Is the Most Challenging ‘People Dynamic’ They Face

Most pastors say the main “people dynamic” challenge they are facing in the church is people’s apathy or lack of commitment to the church.

“Many people can be a member of a church, but not participate in the work of the church,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Pastors see the potential of mobilizing everyone in the church to minister to others in the church and in their community.”

The survey included interviews with 200 American Protestant pastors who identified 44 issues or challenges they face in their role. Pew researchers then surveyed another 1,000 pastors to find which of these needs was most prominent among them. The categories included ministry difficulties, skill development, spiritual needs, personal life, self-care, mental health and people dynamics.

Among these categories, 22 percent of pastors said people dynamics in their congregations are the most challenging or require the most attention today.

“These challenging people dynamics all affect the unity within a local church,” said McConnell. “Unity matters greatly to Christ as seen in his prayer for his followers in John 17. Many things can disrupt that unity, and one of the most common is not outright disagreement but silently abstaining from what the church is doing together.”

About 75 percent of U.S. Protestant pastors said apathy or lack of commitment was a people dynamic they found challenging.

Close to half identified apathy or lack of commitment as the most challenging people dynamic they face.

About 79 percent of Baptist pastors and 78 percent of non-denominational pastors said apathy is the most challenging people dynamic. Forty percent of Lutheran pastors and 38 percent of Methodist pastors said the same.

Pastors also reported that people’s strong opinions can become a challenge for their churches.

“Congregations are filled with many opinions,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “It is not easy to bring a congregation’s focus to a few things to do together that matter. People’s obsession with non-essentials, politics and a dislike for change all hamper a pastor’s ability to provide leadership.”


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/4maksym

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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