Lifeway Research recently published an article titled “22 Vital Stats for Ministry in 2022.” Within this article are many eye-opening statistics. I want to focus only on two today. Two that left me heartbroken.
39% of Americans see Pastors as honest.
American’s positive opinions on the ethics of Pastors have declined eight of the past ten years.
37% of Americans have confidence in the church.
People have lost confidence in institutions in general, including churches. One would hope that churches would be the exception, but this is not the case.
Jesus called his followers to be the “light of the world” in Matthew 5:14. Unfortunately for a majority of Americans, they see only a faint flicker from Pastors and churches and not the life-saving beacon of light and hope.
One must ask the question, “why are these percentages so low?”
The list is long, but here are a few reasons why confidence is at an all-time low.
- Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals and coverups
- Televangelists scandals
- Legendary Pastors falling from grace
- Celebrity Pastors living in multimillion-dollar mansions and flying in private jets
- Churches moving to an entertainment-based worship experience
- Pastors watering down the Gospel out of fear of offending people
- Inwardly focused churches that fear their communities and world rather than risk loving and embracing them
- Pastors and churches that use their platform for political purposes
Feeling depressed? I know I am! It stands to reason that this downward trend will only continue if something different is not done. So, the next logical question is “what can be done about this?” What can be done to rebuild trust and confidence in the local church and its leadership?
I believe it starts with returning to the prophetic mission of Jesus. Jesus himself declares his mission in Luke chapter 4 when he reads from the prophet Isaiah in his hometown of Nazareth.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me.
He has anointed me
to announce the good news to poor people.
He has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners.
He has sent me so that the blind will see again.
He wants me to set free those who are treated badly.
And he has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free.
(Luke 4:18-19 & Isaiah 61:1-2)
Pay careful attention to who Jesus came for. His target audience is clear and unmistakable.
- The poor
- The oppressed
- The disability community
Pay careful attention to what Jesus intended to do. It too is unmistakable.
- To share the good news
- To bring justice
- To offer healing
The prophetic mission of Jesus that was fulfilled by him 2,000 years ago remains our formula for restoring confidence in the church today. The world takes notice when the poor, the oppressed, and the disabled are cared for. Why? Because we live in dark times where kindness is a rare commodity.
What if Pastors and their churches focused on reaching the poor, the oppressed, and their disability communities? What if Pastors and their churches focused on sharing the good news to these distinct people groups, fought for justice, and facilitated healing for them? Would this not go a long way to undoing the harm that has been done in the court of public opinion? I believe that it would!
Maybe the easiest way for Pastors and churches to make an impact and restore confidence is by reaching out to their disability communities. Many that live with disabilities are both faced with daily oppression and the realities of surviving with low income. This one people group would encompass everything that was the target audience of Jesus’ ministry efforts.
Studies show that between 80 and 85% of churches have no form of disability ministry programming or outreach. This means there is a golden opportunity for nearly every church to do something significant in their community. Something that will help to re-establish trust and confidence where it is sorely lacking.
Jesus was a firm believer in the importance of Disability Ministry.
- He declared it (Luke 4)
- He modeled it (Throughout the Gospels)
- He commanded it (Luke 14)
Disability Ministry programming and outreach do not have to be complicated. It is something that a church of any size in any location is capable of. If you and your church are interested in being obedient to Jesus as you seek to restore confidence in your community, we can help! Ability Ministry offers FREE consultation. Reach out to us today! Together we can restore confidence in the Church.