Baptist Press recently did a story on this. Check out this quote:
"Ambiguity regarding who is a believer in Jesus and who is a nonbeliever, the report said, is a result of the pluralism that has been fostered by many religious leaders for at least a century."
Here's a bit more from the article:
One pastor, a Methodist, said he no longer believes that God exists, but his church members do not know that he is an atheist. Most of them, he said, don't even believe Jesus literally rose from the dead or literally was born of a virgin.
Another pastor, from the United Church of Christ, said he didn't even believe in the doctrinal content of the Christian faith at the beginning of his ministry, but he continues to preach as if he believes because it's the way of life he knows.
A Presbyterian pastor in the study said he remains in ministry largely for financial reasons and acknowledged that if he were to make known that he rejects most tenets of the Christian faith he would obliterate his "ability to earn a living this way."
A Church of Christ pastor explained how he continues to lead his church despite losing all theological confidence.
"Here's how I'm handling my job on Sunday mornings: I see it as play acting. I see myself as taking on the role of a believer in a worship service, and performing," the pastor said.
He describes himself as an atheistic agnostic and said he still needs the ministerial job and no longer believes hypocrisy is wrong.
A Southern Baptist pastor included in the study said he was attracted to Christianity as a religion of love and now has become an atheist. If someone would offer him $200,000, he said, he'd leave the ministry right away.
When I come across this article I was flabbergasted. Then after I began thinking about it, I wasn’t surprised anymore. Three things came to my mind as I began to digest what I was reading:
- The first was – as we continue to change, alter, dilute, convolute, and otherwise emasculate the gospel it is no wonder that we have so many men in the pulpit and serving as pastors who are not true or real believers. It is no wonder that if you do not have the Holy Spirit as your resident guide and supernatural link with God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ you will have no confidence in the Word of God or Ways of God.
- The second was – since the majority of churches have turned themselves upside down and have become the ruling body of the church, Jesus Christ no longer mediates His rule in the body of which He supposedly is the head of by the Elders or Shepherds of the flock. It is the Elders, subjected to the Chief Shepherd who rules the body in love and humility.
Pastors are expected to be on call 24 hours a day for anything from a widow needing a ride to the doctor, to hospital emergencies, or counseling needs
Pastors are expected to visit the congregation around the clock while still needing time to prepare messages and lessons that instruct, edify, and encourage
Pastors (real godly pastors – not health and wealth, Hair-channel, or TV pastors) are rarely paid enough to adequately live in their community and meet the needs of their family.
Pastors are now expected to do all of the work of the ministry, instead of being able to be obedient to Eph 4 where the Holy Spirit determined that pastors would equip the saints (members of the church) to do the work of the ministry.
- Third – someone once said every man has his price. Apparently one of the pastors in the study concluded his price was $200,000.
Let me say three things about this if I may:
First of all, it grieves me tremendously that the unique and sacred office of the Elder is so demeaned and depreciated today. If you are not inwardly called and compelled to fulfill the complete role and duty of an Elder, then resign. Do it now - immediately, do not further demean this sacred office. If you cannot articulate a deep compelling desire to shepherd the people of God get out. Please find something else to do!
Second, I consider being an Elder (Shepherd) charged with the task of overseeing (bishop) and pastoring (shepherding) by means of teaching, feeding, being an example, in love, patience, humility, and gentleness to be the highest privilege a man could ever aspire to. Becoming President of the United States would be a step down in stature compared to being an Elder in God’s church. I would rather be an Elder in the smallest and most obscure body of Christ than President of this country.
Third, churches, need to stop thinking of your pastor as someone you hired to fulfill a job description. He is not an employee or a hireling. You are not his supervisor setting his agenda. You are the body for whom Christ died and shed His blood for, is presently filling the ranks by calling out those whom God gave to Christ, who is presently purifying by His blood, and for whom He is returning for.
God gave you shepherds (Elders) and Teachers to perfect you, equip you, and mature you – please read I Thessalonians chapter two carefully and Hebrews chapter thirteen, I Peter chapter five, and Ephesians chapter 4 carefully and submit to the mediating rule of Jesus Christ through the Elders whom Christ has selected and whom you have recognized by their desire, qualifications, testing, proving, and giftedness.
As for me, may I be preserved by the good grace of God to never desire wealth, health, possessions, pleassures or any desires of my sinful flesh rather than desiring to shepherd the precious lambs and sheep of God. I don't know what my price is, I trust that I don't have one, but may I never come to find out what it is.
"...let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." (I Corinthians 10:12, ESV)