September 18, 2010

clergy burn-out, congregation demands, culture negativity

Posted in better disciples, culture at 11:06 PM by alexlozada

The NY Times printed an op-ed by clergyman Jeffrey MacDonald “Congregations Gone Wild” which was a response to a recent study on increasing burnout among American clergy. At the MCC pastoral staff meeting I blogged about earlier, our senior Pastor Ben Cachiaras also observed that for a large chunk of America’s history, clergy had a respected standing in the community – “the home team” – but the last several decades have seen a culture shift. Pastors, and Christians in general, are viewed with increasing skepticism.

Speaking from experience, we who are in vocational ministry sometimes do have a tendency to “superhero” overwork. As Jeffrey MacDonald notes, some congregations do view ministers from a consumer mindset, “what can this church (and pastor) do for me?” I think another factor in clergy burn-out could be the discouragement that comes from being bombarded by so many negative cultural depictions of Christians ministers. Think about how often Christian pastors in movies, TV, and the news are comic buffoons, hypocrites, or close-minded bigots. While tragically there are real-life examples of all those behaviors in the ministry. How often do we see or hear about the majority of pastors who are genuine, compassionate servants?

We shouldn’t be surprised at our culture’s negativity. After all, Jesus told us the world would hate us because it hated him.

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