A few years ago, I’m talking politics, ministry, and theology with the Senior Pastor of my church. We lived right near each other and I was on staff as the worship leader, so we spent a lot of time together discussing church, books we like, etc…
On this particular day, I had an insight into my pastor’s soul. You see, he had a conundrum. His politics had changed from Conservative to Liberal, pro-life to pro-choice, and his theology had gone from a simple Evangelical faith to a more nuanced approach to the scriptures. As we talked, he referred to the Old Testament as myth (something I did not believe at the time), he had adopted a post-modern view of Hell (allegory at best in his view), and he referred to his mostly conservative, Bible believing church members as unable to handle his position on these matters. He was scared to tell the truth to the very people who turned to him weekly to preach the truth. You see, he was dependent on these folks for his living and he was scared of the consequences of telling the truth, so he didn’t.
Sure, sometimes he would hint at this, or refer to that, giving an indicator that there was more beneath the surface. But I could tell by the tone of his voice, that he feared for his living.
I felt sorry for him in that moment, because I realized that he was held hostage to a job, and to a certain appearance of theological correctness, in order to keep his congregation at bay from his true thoughts. I also felt sorry for him, because he also sounded condescending or even loathsome towards our little church. Every day he had to put on his good little Evangelical game face, and try to make his way through a day without outing himself. I could tell, that this is why he seemed tired and cranky around the neighborhood. If you’ve ever had to act in a play, then you know how hard it can be to keep the script on track, and how hard it is to recover from a slip of the tongue. All the world was a stage for him, in a play that he wished he had never tried out for. The script was exacting it’s price and drinking whiskey was his new way to fall asleep. This is not a healthy way for anyone to live, let alone someone claiming to be called to live and teach the scriptures. I did not envy him…I pitied him.
I tried to encourage him to be honest, but he resisted. Not long after this conversation, I resigned from the Worship team and soon left the church. It was the right thing to do….
Not long after, I ran across a survey ( I think from Barna) that found that almost 50% of all clergy /pastors surveyed, said they would leave ministry tomorrow if they had another job lined up. Did you get that…it’s a 50/50 chance that your pastor does not even want to be in ministry anymore! Another survey I ran across said that over 70% of Christians no longer attending any church, had been in full-time ministry or been a full-time volunteer. Again, that’s a huge number of people who have been running the “guts” of the local church, who eventually leave to never return.
What is it about being a leader or pastor in a church, that makes most folks want to leave and never come back?
For me, I just don’t trust the Bible anymore. So I just don’t go to church anymore, why would I? But for someone whose job is to go to church-now that’s not a situation I would wish on anyone.
- Musicman Part 3-The Bitter End of My Years in Sovereign Grace (christianagnostic.wordpress.com)
- Musicman Part 2-The Church Plant Years (christianagnostic.wordpress.com)