Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pastors are Angry with their Congregations

Here is an interesting report from Christianity Today's Mark Galli covering The National Pastor Convention in San Diego.

Yet despite the gorgeous locale and weather, there is, as usual, palpable angst here. The place is full of pastors who are either exhausted, burnt out, frustrated, or missional. They all amount to the same thing: a simmering anger about the church.

wow. Putting exhausted, burnt out, frustrated and missional in the same sentence. Does that mean what I think it mean?

For most pastors that anger is directed at stupid lay people, stubborn church boards, or indifferent church bureaucrats. But "the church," and especially "the Western church" or "the American church," is the object of a myriad of derisive and sarcastic comments.

The anger is understandable. Pastors are an idealistic lot, having entered the ministry because they had the mistaken idea that they could make a difference in the world. And the church is standing in their way. I know. I was once a pastor. It's the way this works. I had great ideas for ministering to the community and the world. And all sorts of church people, from laity to church bureaucrats, got in the way. What I could have done in a church without people!

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9 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

This is a scary report. I can understand anger at individuals' actions (occasionally) or even an individual but anger at the church? That's pretty broad ...

3:35 PM  
Blogger Bob K said...

Perhaps what they really are angry at is that unique subculture called "church" - quite a distinct animal compared to THE church.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

This really speaks to the dysfunctional atmosphere in churches.. to Pastoral Entitlement and maybe why these folks stray.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous journeyman said...

Intriguing opportunity - looks like nobody likes church - neither the congregation(sheep), pastor nor governors!

Why have Church at all in its present form?

Do we need to evolve to a new structure or revert to a Pauline house church of rotating pastor.

The model is broken because there is a need to manage substantial resources(money)and because most pastors are "professionals."

Professionalism eliminates truth morality, conviction with consumablity, value and competence.

It becomes a very structured transaction instead.

You get what you pay for and since markets are imperfect who can be happy (joyful)?

11:18 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Paul,

I guess when you are frustrated, disappointed, and angry enough, you then to think of your whole congregation as the focus of your anger. I pray that this will not happen to you.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Bob K,

You are right. I am sure they are referring to their local congregation as distinct from the church catholic.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Bob,

I agree with you that many of our churches are dysfunctional (dare I say all?). It hurts me to say that. How can Christ's body be dysfunctional? Your posts are relevant to my thoughts. Does the fault lies with the leaders or the congregation or both? Again as I look at the Bible, all families mentioned were dysfunctional.I really appreciate what God has to work with.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Journeyman,

Interesting comments.

I do not know if Pauline churches have "rotating pastors." I am not even sure they have pastors at all. The word pastor is used as a function rather than an office. There were elders and deacons.

Professional pastors came later after the Constantine reforms. I will hesitate to generalise about professional pastors. Mark Galli's report may be a sampling of some pastors attending the convention. I am sure there are professional pastors with integrity, conviction,and competence who are happy in serving their congregations.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous journeyman said...

Remarks are not to be perceived on a micro level but as a macro analysis tool.

Similarly, in the midst of our crumbling financial system and fast evolving economic crisis there will be some great small banker and bankers.

Rotating pastor was my collective for transient aggregator (facilitator) for each meet. My limited understanding was that Pauline experience was to "select" the most appropriately gifted for each of the task that had to be done.

This raises the question if longevity was a requirement for starting a church or was the experience a transient, irregular event on ones christian journey.

Is the christian experience a smooth sequential progressive or a discrete, quantum step/shelf experience?

10:34 AM  

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