HT: Tim Brister
Found this humorous, but true:
Churches must not look for people who are never jerks, but for the people who admit that they are jerks and are willing to fight it. Kind of like me. Maybe like you?
Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership, p. 90.
Carl Trueman has some excellent thoughts on the gospel and the church. As much as I have a concern and love for the local church, he reminds me why the gospel must remain central. Below is an excerpt of what he writes. Read the whole thing here.
Now, Paul certainly thought ecclesiology was important: it is why he spends so much time talking about it in his Pastoral Epistles. He also had very little to say about arts pastors. He never seems to have identified the Christian mind with being taken seriously by secular academics, intellectuals, and people who throw paint at blank canvases. But he did spend rather a lot of time talking about Christ. Indeed, his primary focus was always on the gospel and – crucially – he never conflated the gospel with the doctrine of the church or with opinions about the Christians relationship to secular society. Ecclesiology is necessary to Paul in this end-time tribulation for the preservation and transmission of the gospel. For Paul, an understanding of believers as sojourners and pilgrims arises out of a correct understanding of what the gospel means; but neither of these are to be identified in itself with the gospel or to occupy more discussion space than the gospel.
In case you aren’t familiar with the Elephant Room you can check it out here. If you are familiar with it, then you know the recent swirl that has taken place with the invitation of T.D. Jakes. Below are three helpful reflections that I benefited from.
Grace and Truth Beyond the Elephant Room, by Trevin Wax
Truth, Debate, Unity, and The Elephant Room, by Joe Thorn
The Elephant in the Room, by Voddie Baucham
Seven Thoughts on the Elephant Room and T.D. Jakes, by Kevin DeYoung
11 Things I’m Thinking in the Wake of Recent Events, by Thabiti Anyabwile
Carson and Keller on Jakes and the Elephant Room, by Don Carson & Tim Keller
I really appreciate the 9Marks ministry. Where I have really benefited from them is how to put “flesh on the bones” so to speak. Scripture clearly gives us the theology and direction for ministry, but at times pastors need encouragement in connecting the dots and thinking practically about certain situations. Recently I found two posts by 9Marks that were especially applicable.
Probably most are familiar with this article from Bridges’ book, The Bookends of the Christian Life, but it is well worth reading again.
How a Mega-Church is Rediscovering the Gospel, by Joe Coffey.
A couple of interesting posts have recently come up regarding the challenges of pastoral ministry. The first is by Thabiti Anyabwile. Here are some of the statisitics he shares (read the rest here):
Hours and Pay
- 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
- 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
Training and Preparedness
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they
thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
Health and Well-Being
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if
they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Marriage and Family
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
The other post is from Jared Moore (read here). His post is more about the way you will be treated in pastoral ministry, rather than statistics about it. Here’s what he writes:
If you enter pastoral ministry…
10. Not everyone will like you.
9. You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.
8. You will feel like a failure often; and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase. Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.
7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition.
6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).
5. You will be criticized, rarely to your face, and frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that appear to love you, those that obviously do not like you, and pastors and Christians that barely know you.
4. You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.
3. You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews.
2. You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trust-worthy peers are few and far in-between. Because of the “super-Christian” myth accredited to pastors literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.
1. You will probably pastor a church that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen pastors come and go, doesn’t respect the position as biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a pastor’s or a church’s jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).
After understanding these realities, do you still want to be a pastor? If so, then God has probably called you to the ministry!
I can certainly agree and relate to much of what both of these men have written. With that said, there is nothing else I would ever want to do than be a pastor. Despite the many hardships, I can easily list the fruit and blessings that God has bestowed in ministry. Yes, it is good to be reminded of the challenges with pastoral ministry, but let us also give thanks that God has called us to such a noble task and makes us fit for it according to his grace.