Thursday, May 13, 2010

If Someone Would Offer me $200,000, I’d leave the Ministry Right Away.

Hmmm... That's an interesting quote. Take a moment to read this: a recent study by Tufts University is telling stories about pastors who do NOT believe what they preach. In fact, some are true atheists...

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.
Since the churches have become the task master hiring hirelings they set the agenda and expectation to the point that pastoral burnout is inevitable: 

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)

11 comments:

WELCOME TO MY WORLD OF POETRY: said...

By and large I have found Men Of The Cloth to be just as you would expect them to be with the exception of one.

It was a few days before my husband's funeral and I realised I
forgotten to ask him to thank my 2 future daughters in law for their kind help.He refused saying as they were "Living In Sin" he could not do my request, on the day of the funeral he didn't even shake my hand or anyone eles's and as soon as the service was over he was literally running across the cemetary as fast as he could..
I changed my place of worship after that, My husband deserved better.

Have a lovely day
Yvonne.

Lloyd said...

Gregg, you have written a very inspiring and truthful message about the calling of God's shepherds. We as believers must always pray for our pastors, elders, and teachers who are always getting bombarded by the devil. I have seen and witnessed pastors, deacons, and teachers who had lost their "first love" and just go through the motions of their office. God's blessings to you. Lloyd

Lisa said...

I don't know how they do it - just don't understand it. And I don't want to understand it!

I guess the final scripture of your post explains it. I think about that scripture pretty frequently and know that if I continue looking upward, He will keep me grounded and where I need to be.

Great post!

AL said...

Wow, no wonder the churches in America are so watered down - it's hard to find a good one these days. I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

But these "pastors" should remember the Scripture that says teachers will be judged more harshly.

As for Yvonne's comment - that is so sad. I hope you've found a good Church for worship.

Some places get caught up in grace to the exclusion of the law, and others become legalistic and uncaring - there are ditches on both sides.

God bless,

arlee bird said...

You really caught my attention with your lead statement. This is a very good post and sadly it does seem to be the case so often

It's disturbing to think that the man in the pulpit might just be playing a role and does not really believe what he's preaching. But I guess it's equally disturbing that a good many of the folks in the pews are playing a similar role on Sunday mornings. I guess it all goes hand in hand.

Excellent, though sad, observations.

Lee

John said...

That's sad, but shouldn't be a surprise. If someone were to offer me $20,000 today, I would gladly go to seminary and enter the ministry! (Not for the money, but because I can't afford seminary without it.)

Gregg said...

Yvonne - I read your "exception" on another site during the A-Z challenge and was appalled by it. I think his behavior was dispicable. I am sorry for your experience. Even though it is long ago, it still reflects badly on men who truly desire to serve with a servant's heart.

Lloyd - thank you for your kind words. I would be interested to know how or in what way you were inspired. I believe I could grow, improve, or use your words as a checklist in my own life. Yes, we need to pray frequently, fervently, and fastidously for our Elders and Deacons. By the way that is the biblical terminology and that is what we should use to avoid any confusion.

Lisa - I sense your bewilderment. It is hard to understand, but then it really isn't. Men are always attracted to that which they think they can make money, make women, or acaquire power. There are a lot of unbelieving men in the pulpit.

Yes, we need to stay grounded. A good way to look at many things including the vice, greed, avarice, and hypocrisy of people is, "Except for the grace of God, there go I." We are no different than they are - we have been restrained by the grace of God from acting in the same manner by the same sin nature.

Al- good to see you back, I have missed you! No we shouldn't be surprised. Paul warned us and stated things will grow worse and worse. It grieves us but shouldn't surprise us. You are right, teachers will be judged more harshly. Not to mention elders will give an account to God for their "shepherding."

Beware the ditches that run side by side us.

Lee - I wish I could claim originality for the lead statement. But obviously, at least in your case it did what is was designed to do. I caught your attention. Thank your for your compliment, I don't take it lightly and I am honored. It is sad, the truth often is sad.

Many men in the pulpit are playing a roll. Makes my "job" or ministry harder. You are right, there are unfortunately more tares in the pew than wheat I fear.

Thank you for dropping by.

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I've often said that the most difficult job in the world is that of a pastor. I once served as a deacon under a wise old pastor. Our church was going through some difficult people problems at that time and I asked him how he handled the criticism.

He said, "I just go home and turn them over to God before I go to bed. After all they are His kids and this is His church, not mine"

He served the Lord for over 50 years and is enjoying the fruit of his labor in heaven now.

I can't wait to see him someday.

Gregg said...

John - I know what you mean. Would love to go for higher education if the money were there.

Ron - being a pastor is a difficult job, thank God He gives the strength. What a wise old guy, they are God's kids and it is God's church! What a day that will be!

JD Curtis said...

we need to pray frequently, fervently, and fastidously for our Elders and Deacons

Youre right. Thanks for reminding me of this. Sometimes prayers are concentrated on the pastor and others get forgotten. They are such an important part of a church..

Kansas Bob said...

Good thoughts Gregg. Thanks for sharing your pastoral insights.

As a one time elder and a retired pastor I have seen the good, bad and ugly sides of ministry. My heart has been broken more times than I want to admit as I have seen ungodly behaviors by religious leaders who should have known better. The absence of accountability often took me by surprise in those situations.

I sometimes wonder if men and women see the call to pastoral ministry as something eternal and not temporal. Sometimes we are called by the Spirit to a different (maybe lesser) ministry.. and sometime the healthy thing to do is recognize the season of ministry that we are in. It is difficult to recognize though because it requires a deep level of humility.