When it comes to Christian leaders, in my own lifetime, I’ve seen a staggering loss of influence. My father was a pastor, and back in the 50’s and 60’s it seemed like everyone in Charlotte, North Carolina respected my dad. Even people who would never darken the door of a church would come to him for advice – particular when it came to major life decisions. But today, not so much. We’ve all seen it creep down, but Pew Research just released new data that indicates only 15% of Americans would seek the advice of a religious leader today.
Even more surprising, the research indicates that even among highly religious Americans, only a third say they rely heavily on advice from religious leaders to help make major life decisions. There is some variation in that across denotations and groups, but among even the most highly religious evangelicals, only 40% are interested in their pastor’s advice about major life decisions. With other groups, it’s far less.
What is your reaction? Is it that as social media has made us more public, we’re keeping our private decisions to ourselves? Perhaps when I was young, a local pastor was the only potential counselor most people knew, but today we find “experts” coming out of the woodwork.
The question is – if you were facing a major, life decision, would you go to your pastor for advice? And if not, who would you prefer talking to?