Egyptian-American Pastor Michael Youssef has issued a strong condemnation of “woke” pastors within evangelical churches, warning that spewing far-left ideology from the pulpit is “deadly as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned.”
In an interview with The Christian Post, the 72-year-old pastor of the 3,000-member Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia, recalled how, as an Episcopal priest in the 1980s, he watched with dismay as the mainline Episcopal denomination slowly moved away from biblical principles, eventually voting to approve same-sex marriage in the denomination.
But in recent years, Youssef told CP that he’s seen the same subtle bend toward leftist ideology slowly permeating the wider evangelical church.
“Those same battles that I fought in the mainline denominations are now invading the evangelical churches,” he said. “It’s the same arguments, the same lingo, and the same words repeating themselves with such precision I am deeply, deeply concerned.”
According to Youssef, who also founded the Leading The Way television ministry, more and more pastors are “falling into the trap” of woke culture because it’s “popular and appeals to the flesh.”
“Bowing to woke culture allows you to avoid rejection by culture and society,” he said. “It’s a very, very popular message that is now being preached from many evangelical pulpits; traditionally Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching churches. We have gone so far that it just grieves me to the point that I literally sometimes just weep tears.”
“I’ve always believed, as goes the pulpit, so goes the pew. As goes the pew, so goes the culture,” he continued. “As a pastor, I put the full blame on us, right in our laps, because we want to be liked, loved, and followed on social media by millions of people. Pastors are the culprits. We need to be about Jesus, not about being liked, because that is deadly as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned.”
In his latest book, Hope for This Present Crisis: The Seven-Step Path to Restoring a World Gone Mad, Youssef provides a diagnosis of the insanity of the culture and a concise seven-step prescription for restoring sanity to a world gone mad.
His heart, he told CP, is especially burdened for young pastors and ministry leaders who are tempted to waver from biblical truth amid societal pressure.
“Young pastors must realize that this is a deception. It’s very subtle and very clever, but it’s a deception nonetheless,” he continued. “And that is the burden that God laid on my heart to such a point I just couldn’t sleep. I had to address it. I believe people are in a state of confusion and need a clear word from Scripture.”
Youssef, who was born on the African continent, said that one example of bowing to woke culture is the increased popularity of Critical Race Theory, even in the Church. The theory utilizes race as the lens through which every area of life is examined, categorizing everyone into oppressor and oppressed groups.
“It’s a very Marxist ideology that people are taking very seriously,” he said. “The idea of the oppressed and the oppressors is not that simple. Now we have private Christian schools here in Atlanta where white children are apologizing to black kids. Apologizing for what? They are innocent; they haven’t done anything. It’s crazy; it’s just going insane.”
The pastor identified several “signs” a pastor is abandoning biblical truth, from failing to preach the whole Word of God to bowing toward moral relativism and demonstrating hesitation to “offend” anyone.
“If someone is saying, ‘There are many ways to God, you run out of there as fast as you can,” he said. “If they say, ‘We need to ditch the Old Testament,’ you need to run out of there as fast as you can. Because the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the inspired Word of God.”
A grandfather of 11, the pastor warned that if the Church fails to adhere to biblical truth, the consequences will be devastating for future generations. He compared child-rearing to a “three-legged stool,” stressing the importance of a healthy home, church, and school environment.
“The home is number one, the church is number two and school is number three,” he said. “Even if the school is working against the kids, if they have the strength in the home and in the church, they will make it. But when the church avoids talking about issues or goes along with culture, then kids are confused.”
Satan is “working overtime” to deceive children,” Youssef said, adding: “If these words are terrifying, I’m glad they are because it’s time for us to build the fences around our children and their hearts and seal them with the Holy Spirit.”
“Children must know that there is a Satan and he hates God, he hates God’s children, and he’s conspiring against them every minute of every day. Therefore, they have to galvanize themselves with the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, in order to fight.”
Youssef understands firsthand the pressure to bow to culture. Growing up in Egypt, Christianity was under “severe persecution” from Islamic extremists, he said. As a result, he was “continually trained at home for how to stand up for the faith and not be deceived.”
“I knew that, though they might offer me jobs, money, prestigious scholarships to convert to Islam, I had to stand strong,” he said. “So I grew up with it. And what I’m trying to do is say to the next generation, ‘Expect to be aliens and sojourners. This is not our home. Jesus places us here to be a light to this dark world, not to be part of the darkness.’”
Through his book, Youssef hopes to encourage those who love Jesus to be “encouraged and motivated to stand up and not to be afraid,” and compel those “teetering” to find the strength and courage to stand for the truth of the Gospel.
“We must take charge,” he said. “Christians have abandoned so many areas of society, from media and the classroom. Instead of withdrawing, we need to go and invade these areas and take them for Christ and not be afraid. We are on the right side. We have read the last chapter, and it says we will win.”