Suppose you wander into a Christian church in a town you're visiting one Sunday – this one happens to be in California – and you hear something like this:
Caleb Lines (senior minister of University Christian Church, San Diego): "God almost never deals in absolutes. Our God is not a God of absolutes. Our God, I think, is a God who appreciates authentic questions, really striving to ask difficult questions and to live with some ambiguity in the answers."
If that's what you're hearing, says George Barna of the Cultural Research Center in Arizona, you've stumbled onto a pastor who doesn't possess a biblical worldview. In fact, Barna finds that among all Christian pastors in the United States, only about one in three have a qualified biblical worldview.
"It's that particular category of beliefs, behaviors, where we find the pastors of Christian churches are least likely to be aligned with God's ways," he tells AFN.
Barna shares that it's particularly tragic that only 12% of children's and youth pastors have a biblical worldview.
"It's children who are the most vulnerable," he laments. "A person develops their worldview between the ages of 15 to 18 months and 13 years – so, it's predominately children's pastors and parents who have that great impact on those children."
The problem, says the Christian researcher, is both cultural and generational – most pastors grew up in American culture and attended churches under pastoral leaders who themselves lacked a biblical worldview. Unfortunately, even when they go for training, the schools fail them: "Seminaries do a miserable job of preparing people for ministry," he states.
Case in point
AFN spoke with a Florida pastor who says it's a "very confusing time" for people today.
"… We've seen the proliferation of what I feel like is a moral revolution and an agenda and even an indoctrination that's taking place in our world to push thoughts and secular ideas," says Pastor Alan Brumback of First Baptist Church Naples, "and sadly, this is taking place in a local congregation in our community."
This weekend the United Church of Christ in Naples, Florida, is hosting a Youth Pride Conference sponsored by a local LGBT activist group. The conference will feature a drag show for children as young as 12. Brumback notes the Bible is very specific in pointing out that God created male and female – and not the mental confusion or depravity of the lifestyle.
"We have compassion for people who are struggling, who are confused, who are really struggling with who they are," he shares. "But we also want to point them to the truth. In confusing days, people need the truth of God's Word – and we believe that when you live the way that God has designed you to live that you will flourish and it will be what's best for you."
He adds that the bigger problem is that the world is broken because of sin and the only one who can fill that brokenness with healing is God. So, the objective of the Church is to lead people, struggling or not, into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.