Reader Brian Auten passed along an Out of Ur post (“Will Preach for Food“) that riffs off a Wall Street Journal article (“Joblessness Hits the Pulpit“). I would highly encourage you to read both, but here’s the relevant stats:
Unemployed pastors in 2005: 2,000
Unemployed pastors in 2007: 3,000
Unemployed pastors in 2009: 5,000
Thirty percent of church attendees report reducing their giving since November 2009.
The articles also note that it is megachurches enacting the majority of layoffs.
While the articles are eye-opening, if you truly want to witness a train wreck, read the comments to the Out of Ur post.
This seemingly innocuous Ur comment was the one that most grabbed me and illustrates everything wrong with American Christian thinking:
Nobody goes into ministry for the money, to be sure, but we have families and college tuitions to pay for just like everyone else, plus many of us have debt from seminaries. A worker is worth his wages. We don’t need much, but fair pay shouldn’t even be a question. Posted by: Mike at May 22, 2010.
Anyone other than me note the extreme concession to status quo in that comment?
This is why the Church in America is failing. We are not asking the hard questions. Instead, we simply relent to the system.
A few questions that immediately spring to mind:
Why do Christians burden their families with outrageous education expenses?
Why aren’t Christians developing church-grown alternatives to higher education?
In what ways does the traditional paid pastoral staff hamper the “laity” from doing the mission of the Church? How is that problem magnified in megachurches?
What percentage of these jobless pastors have stayed on as “laity” at their former congregations? How are those congregations meeting the many needs of the pastors they cut loose?
In what ways does our cultural mindset on traditional employment hamper our ability to be a vital Church?
At what point does Acts 4:32-35 enter into this equation?
When did we stop trying? When did we get to the point that we let society/culture dictate the way we Christians live? Where are the genuine leaders? Where is the dialog on alternatives to status quo?
And isn’t anyone else troubled by this?
At the most granular level, the way we live is broken, yet we keep trying desperately to not only prop it up but also fool ourselves into thinking this is the way it has to be.
All I can say is “Maranatha.”