FIRST-PERSON: A low view of pastors
By Jeff Iorg, posted February 15, 2023
A recent Gallup survey had some very bad news for pastors, and by extension, for the church in America. In the survey, only 34 percent rated the honesty and integrity of pastors as very high. Among respondents under age 30, the rate was a much lower 20 percent. These numbers are the lowest since Gallup has been surveying pastoral integrity as part of a larger study of the trust Americans have in various occupations.
Perhaps more startling, given so many recent negative news stories, more people have a positive view of police integrity—50 percent rated them highly—than pastors. But at least we beat out used car salesmen who came in at a lowly 11 percent.
Pastors must face this hard reality—we have done this to ourselves. Our culture did not spontaneously decide to stop trusting pastors. They lost confidence in us because of clergy sexual abuse, crooked financial dealings, disingenuous political involvement, and other self-inflicted diminishments of our stature.
Beyond these obvious mistakes, we have also hurt ourselves by extending the pastoral title to lesser leadership roles in churches and by redefining the pastoral lifestyle in a misguided attempt to lessen the distinctions between pastors and other believers. From how we act to how we present ourselves; some pastors seem determined to make being a pastor less and less of a unique role, responsibility, and office.