Four years ago pastors were more confident that their congregations welcomed sermons about racial reconciliation. In 2016, 57 percent of pastors strongly agreed that their congregations would welcome such sermons. That percentage has fallen to 32 percent in 2020. The growing racial divide over the last four years — from the rhetoric of Donald Trump to the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd — has lessened pastors’ confidence that their congregations are interested in exploring the Christian connection to racial reconciliation.
Aaron Earls writes for Lifeway Research:
Pastors seem more reluctant to address issues of race in their congregations today than four years ago.
According to a Lifeway Research study, 74% of pastors agree their congregation would welcome a sermon on racial reconciliation, with 32% strongly agreeing. In 2016, however, 90% of pastors believed their congregation would be open to a sermon on the topic, with 57% strongly agreeing.
Today, 17% of pastors say their church would not want to hear about racial reconciliation, up from 7% in 2016.
“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,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “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.”
African American pastors (93%) are more likely than white pastors (73%) or pastors of other ethnicities (74%) to say their church would be open to a sermon on racial reconciliation.
Pastors of churches with 250 or more in attendance (83%) are the most likely church size to say their congregation would welcome such a sermon.
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