The Church Today is Facing Some Serious Issues

Increasingly world trends penetrate that traditional safety barrier of the church. Whether it’s the “Me too” movement, marital infidelity, financial scandals, etc.; church staff need to be prepared. In fact, a recent Christianity Today article listed the top 5 reasons people file lawsuits against churches:

  1. Property Disputes – A Minnesota court recently ruled a local congregation could keep its church after leaving (PCUSA)…It was a dispute between liberal and conservative factions.
  2. Sexual Abuse of a Minor – While this has declined recently, for the previous decade this issue made up more than 1 in 9 church lawsuits…
  3. Personal Injury – Church improvements in handicap accessibility and property maintenance have decreased such suits, but pastors still need to be vigilant.
  4. Insurance Coverage Disputes – This covers a whole host of issues, so pastors should be sure that policies are as comprehensive as possible…fire and water damage, abuse allegations, building use, personal injury, liability. HR and more.
  5. Zoning Issues – Church neighbors now sue for noise, Sunday morning traffic, free speech, or just plain bias.

In most cases these issues were not part of the seminary curriculum. Therefore, few pastors know how to deal with all of this. They need advice and help from well-equipped members. There are also other concerns emerging that include but aren’t limited to the following:

  1. A Lack of Planning – On a fairly regular basis churches come to us to help them raise millions of dollars. Often when we begin to ask questions about their planning, they don’t have answers. In fact, a few of them haven’t even discussed what we’re asking. We’ve found that effective fundraising usually comes from a planning process. People who may support a capital campaign, also want to know that you’ve thought about this up front and you’ve done your due diligence.
  2. A Lack of Gospel Centered Preaching on Stewardship – The need for increased church operational funding is growing. Yet we often find that pastors avoid preaching on stewardship, even though it’s part of the full counsel of the Gospel. People need to understand Christ’s call for us to give and to help others, and it’s the pastor’s job to ensure that’s happening.
  3. A Tendency to Allow Politics to Invade the Pulpit – In any given church members have mixed political views. However, when pastors share their views it tends to polarize the church. Sure, some may agree with the pastor, which makes it friendly and inviting to some, but potentially that can extract a huge price. Others, who may disagree with the pastor’s political positions, can find the culture unfriendly and hostile, which defeats the purpose of the church. The church should be a place of respite, where people find spiritual guidance and support while learning to put things in perspective through Gospel teaching and community. The church was never intended to be a political action committee used to mobilize Christian forces. Instead, churches tend to flourish when they keep the Gospel front and center and apolitical. In fact, there is a direct correlation between a pastor’s political pronouncements from the pulpit and their loss of spiritual authority.
  4. Our People View Traditional Christian Morality as Extreme, Antiquated and Hazardous – Rising tides of individualism in the US are clearly affecting the church. It’s all about “looking out for number one,” regardless of what happens to others. Witness the political bickering, pleasure seeking and public confrontations we see daily. Such individualism has now entered the church and challenges Christian morality. How often have people rationalized, “I know the Bible says this, but that was written for another time?”

Can the church survive this? No doubt, but it will take prayer, awareness, insight and vigilance on the part of pastors!