I’m not quite sure what to say to this…
…but, as is my style, I’ll try.
Baptist Press published a recent article about pastors who aren’t Christians. As in, they’re preaching from the Bible, but they don’t believe it. They aren’t just rejecting a few doctrines. They’re outright atheists. But their churches don’t know it.
Being a pastor is different from most professions. You don’t really hear about an astronaut who went into space, despite his hypocritical denial of gravity. Or the bank teller who secretly felt that money is a complex and highly vulnerable illusion shared by the whole of mankind that has no intrinsic value. No one cares what an astronaut or bank teller believes.
The article is anecdotal evidence. There’s not statistics involved. It’s just stories of five unbelieving pastors. There’s the Methodist whose an atheist. But he admits, most of his congregation doesn’t literally believe Jesus was born of a virgin, or was resurrected either, so it’s all good.
Or the Church of Christ pastor whose an atheistic agnostic, but goes to church to “play act” in front of his congregation, because he no longer sees hypocrisy as wrong. Well, at least your conscience is clear.
Or how about the Presbyterian minister who rejects most Christian doctrine, but stays in the ministry for the money. Or the Baptist who would “leave the ministry right away” if someone offered him $200 grand.
I’m speechless about that one…almost.
Since when is the ministry a sound financial strategy?
The Presbyterian blew me away probably the most of all of them. I’d like to know just what kind of cash the guy is raking in that makes the ministry so flipping attractive that he just can’t pull himself away. This isn’t the first time a pastor has somehow made me think of the fat little suckling piglets at the petting zoo. And what’s with the $200,000 figure for the Baptist? We have to assume these guys have a major financial incentive to stay.
I’d sure like to get a piece of that action. Instead, I (and thousands of other pastors) labor as “bi-vocational” ministers, thank you very much. That means we worked hard enough to make ourselves qualified for more than one career to support the ministries we love, because they offer us few financial rewards. And as of now, I’m still working to claw my way into a viable educational career that makes a decent salary. I work two jobs and still make a fraction of what most fat-cat pastors make. Being bi-vocational has absolutely changed my heart, and a lot more pastors should try it. There’s nothing like working alongside your people during the week to give yourself some extra credibility.
And just for you pastors who don’t think you’d ever find the time to pursue a second productive career, just cut a few of the useless, unproductive business meetings you have every week. Most of you, even in the mid-size churches would find the time to pursue at least part-time employment outside of your church bubble. Trust your people to get stuff done without you, if it’s important to them. But I promise, your church will not collapse without another frivolous meeting to discuss how to waste more money.
Who’s to blame?
That’s usually the best question to ask when something bad happens. Actually, I think a lot of people are to blame.
The pastors themselves are to blame for abusing the ministry. They should go into politics or something. A couple of these guys sounded like they entered the ministry without even being believers. But the rest of them let their faith deteriorate over time. That’s probably years of neglect.
The denominations are to blame too. Who is ministering to their ministers? I’ll be making my second trip to a monastery for a few days this summer. I do this to rest, study and meditate. The monks don’t let me chant with them. I saw a lot of priests up there last time. Why? To go to confession. Not to hear confessions – to give them. These guys spend hours, weeks, months listening to people air their dirty laundry and talk about their messed up lives, and no one is there to listen to them at the end of the day, not even a wife! Pastors need therapy as much as anyone else…probably more.
I also blame the pastors’ church members. Most pastors don’t go into the ministry because they were drama majors in college. They aren’t great actors. If your pastor is a thespian, I’d be suspicious. It should be pretty tough to fake being a good pastor and a genuine Christian. If a few hundred people can listen to a guy every week and have no suspicions that he’s a phony who hates his job and doesn’t believe a word he’s saying, then they’re probably all phonies too…which would make sense for a phony pastor to lead a phony church full of phonies. J.D. Salinger would have a field day with these guys.
How many pastors hate their job?
Just a question I wonder about. Even among the vast majority of pastors who have faith, how many of them don’t like the ministry? Or better question: what percent of the time does any given pastor not like his job? I’d imagine every pastor has his days. Mondays usually aren’t very good. What would it take to get them to leave?
I bet if you offered $200,000 to a bunch of Christians for them to never go to church again, a bunch of them would take you up on it, since a lot of people are just in church so Jesus will make them rich anyway. Just cut the middleman.
What do you think of this? It can’t be a new thing, but it’s disheartening. Do you think you’d know if your pastor was a faker? If you’re a pastor, do you have someone to mentor you? How much of the time do you not like your job? If you could take a second career, what would it be? Or, what would your price be to leave the ministry?