Pastors Identify Comfort as the Primary Idol That Has Influence on Their Congregations

NASHVILLE (BP) – Idols don’t always come in the form of carved statues or reside in places of worship. Many pastors believe modern-day idols can be benign-looking desires with significant influence on people in their congregations.

According to a study from Lifeway Research, more than half of U.S. Protestant pastors believe comfort (67 percent), control or security (56 percent), money (55 percent) and approval (51 percent) are idols that have significant influence on their congregations. When asked to choose the potential idol with the most sway over people in their churches, pastors again point to comfort (30 percent) and control or security (20 percent) above the others.

“It’s easy to think that those in Christian churches have chosen their God and are faithful to Him,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “However, pastors quickly acknowledge how divided their congregations’ allegiances can be. These gods don’t have a physical shrine, but they compete for the hearts of Christians.”

Significant influence of idols

While most pastors point to comfort, security, money and approval as potential idols, fewer say success (49 percent) and social influence (46 percent) are idols in their congregations. Nearly 2 in 5 say political power (39 percent) is an idol their congregants face, and nearly 1 in 3 say sex or romantic love (32 percent). Another 14 percent of pastors say none of these are idols with influence in their churches, and 2 percent say they’re not sure.

Younger pastors are more likely than older pastors to identify several of these modern-day idols in their churches – particularly political power, money and control or security. Pastors ages 18-44 are the most likely to say political power (55 percent) and control or security (72 percent) are idols they see in their congregations.

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Source: Baptist Press