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Warning: today’s posting is a rant and is a little on the emotional side…

Today I met a group of pastors.  They were all pastors who had been broken apart by churches across the U.S.  We sat in a room and listened to one another’s stories.  Sad stories.  Embarrassing stories – embarrassing not because of something the pastor did, but embarrassing because of the way they were treated by people who claim to follow Christ and then eat their own leaders.

Did you know that, according to the man running the retreat, there are 1,600 forced terminations in protestant churches in the U.S. every month?  Every month.  Do you believe that?  I think I do, and it’s an epidemic that embarrasses me.  I think it should make us all take note.

It makes me think one of two things:

1. Either we somehow produce pastors at an alarming rate who are woefully errant and horrible people. Or…

2. Our churches have become a place where we think it’s OK to treat people (people who have dedicated their lives to serving and equipping the church for acts of service and loving and caring for the body of Christ) like they are disposable.

Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle there.  I guess I’m just sad.  Doesn’t that number make you a little sad?  1,600/month = 19,200/year.  So, basically, we have 19,200 clergy each year who need a year or two to heal up from a horrible parting from a church.  That means almost 40,000 clergy are in the process of healing at any time.  That means (if you figure the average family has at least 3 people in it) 120,000 people in clergy families struggle through the process.  That means 19,200 search committees are formed every year…probably 6 people on each of those: that’s over 115,000 people busy with too many meetings trying to hire a new pastor, who will inevitably come from the ranks of recently terminated pastors (and haven’t had time to heal because they need work to support their 120,000 mouths).  Creating a horrible circle of unhealthy leadership in the church.  Yikes.  I’m going to bed.

Categories: Ranting Tags: ,
  1. Janet Koolhaas
    November 17, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I hear your pain. Been there, too. This is probably not the right time to mention this, but I’ll forget later if I don’t. Just wanted to say that there is a wonderful resource in Langley, BC called “Oasis” which is geared for exactly those wounded (or exhausted) pastors (and their wives) that you mentioned in your “rant”. It is a 5 day retreat with about 4 other wounded/burnt-out ministry/missionary couples and the mentoring staff. Very healing! Very Christ-centered. Very helpful for us when we attended. We also know there are other similar programs across the U.S. Too bad we need them, but they are there for those who do. I believe that the expectations of a pastor in this media-saturated age is totally unrealistic. Only a very elite few can live up to what seems to be expected. And even many of those turn out to be a sham or crack under the intense pressure. Whatever happened to the concept of a dedicated man (or woman) of God who comes and shepherds a reasonably-sized group of people, teaches them the scriptures, models Christ-likeness, holds their hand and prays them through the difficult times in life and guides them through the milestones in life (i.e. weddings, baptisms, confession of faith, etc.) My personal opinion: at least part of the problem is that churches are too big to develop a relationship with the pastor. It’s when people really get to know their pastor as a person that they cut him more slack. However, we have also served a very small church and it’s possible to still get hurt. So, I don’t know the answer . . . God does. May He give us wisdom . . . as I wrote those last 5 words it occured to me that Jesus Himself was “wounded” by the very ones He came to serve (not the world). “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” I guess if it happened to Him, then we shouldn’t be so surprised when it happens to us. I’m rambling. I’ll stop there. Love your BLOG, Jim. God bless you. Jan K.

  2. Angie Mabry-Nauta
    November 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Too much in the middle of being one of those 19,000 to appropriately respond. Just wanted to say thanks for posting this; for sharing your experience with me at the GSC/Commissions meeting; and for the kindness, empathy and compassion you extended to me. It sucks being part of this number, as you well know; but at least those of us who have been there (like you) can be an understanding friend for those of us who are there (like me) and who will be there (like whoever). Peace to you, brother! Angie

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