Sunday, March 29, 2009

Statistics on pastors

The following statistics were posted on a site called Pastoral Care Inc. After looking at the figures, it becomes obvious that pastors and their families are also being victimized by a performance based system of religious obligation. As pastors are pushed, they tend to push back and, as a result, the people in their congregations are also victimized.

Since my experience with spiritual abuse, it's been hard to relate to pastors and accept them as brothers in the Lord. Often, when in conversation with one, I can feel myself shutting down. That's not right and it's not fair. They're not the enemy.

Connecting with former pastors who have left the system like Wayne Jacobsen and Darin Hufford and hearing about their struggles while in the system has helped me to see that pastors may be some of the biggest victims of this system. Caught in the middle of a system that requires more and more performance from them and a people who have never been allowed to mature, the pressures on pastors can become unbearable as these statistics show.

My hope is that I can grow to the place where I see pastors as fellow strugglers on this journey who need to know that God's love for them isn't based on their performance. He just loves them because they're his.

24 comments:

rob horton said...

aida,

i have come to think of the shepherds-and-flocks-systems as a lose:lose:lose. i think those who take on the role of "pastor" lose, i think those who take on the role of "flock" lose, and i think the families of the "pastor" lose. just my opinion of course ;)


grace and peace,
rob

Aida said...

Rob! You've been keeping a low profile lately. It's great hearing from you.

I agree. In my opinion, no one wins and the statistics seem to agree.

rob horton said...

true - but i have still been ready and enjoying the content you have been posting.

Aida said...

I'm glad you're still around. I know the endurance running must be keeping you busy. I get tired just even thinking about it.

rob horton said...

it for sure has kept on a very regular schedule when it comes to sleeping and rising :)

Aida said...

Sounds good. I'm glad you've found something that you enjoy doing and that has also been beneficial for you.

Jim Robbins said...

I used to be one of those pastors. It was one of the most painful periods in my life - for both me and my brand new marriage. I can have a bit more patience for church leaders who are open to seeing beyond institutional mindsets. What I really can't stand are leaders who willfully remain entrenched in damaging mindsets -- unwilling to take risks that lead to freedom. Particularly so, because they are taking others with them. (O.K. I'm done venting.)

Aida said...

That’s okay, Jim. Vent all you need to. It’s okay to be angry. That type of leader does much hurt and damage.

I have a lot of respect for former pastors like you. Giving up the security of a paycheck when you have a family to support must have been very difficult. I know you’re still working through a lot of issues but I really appreciate that you were willing to take a stand for what you knew to be true.

Unfortunately, many pastors see the truth but like you said they’re not willing to sacrifice the security of a paycheck and a position of power in order set people free and to be free themselves. It really is a shame but until they’re willing, they'll keep the church in bondage.

Thanks for commenting. I always appreciate what you have to share.

John Fincher said...

Aida and all,

Wow, the pendulum is surely swinging furiously with me.

RIGHT NOW, I'm with you, but TRYING to(er..probably not the right word), like you, not shut down when talking to or about pastors.

Perhaps if I hadn't been so hurt by the institution itself, I would have better perspective.

Posted these excerpts from Pagan Christianity on my blog:

How the Pastor Damages Himself

How the Pastoral Role Damages Body Life

Grace and peace to all - especially pastors.

Aida said...

John, I definitely can understand where you're coming from. I guess the bottom line for me is a trust issue. I'm really not sure how much I can trust them.

I feel they're loyalty is really to the system and the needs of the people are secondary. I'm sure there are some who are different but the only way to know is to get close to them and right now I don't want to take a chance.

I guess both of us just have to give it time and let God work in us whatever he wants to do in the right time.

I've read Pagan Christianity but I'll check out those posts as soon as I can.

Faithful said...

I have a couple of pastor friends in AZ who have a church that is unlike just about any church you will find. That is because they recognize that church is not a building or organization. It is the body of Yeshua/Jesus. It is also not what you do when you get together. It is the people who are together.

They have a ministry that reaches out to pastors whose congregations won't allow them to be real and transparent...and whose congregations lock them into roles they should not be in.

In fact, Glen runs from the title "pastor", although he is, in reality, the head pastor. They do things as a group. There is no one man at the top.

The church is at: http://www.thevictoriouschurch.com/index.htm

and the ministry, which helped to start the "church" is at: http://www.saltriverministries.com/radio/index.htm

Jim and Glen are awesome guys who really love the Lord!

rob horton said...

faithful,

that is cool that they are trying to do something different - but the reality is that people will continue to want to look to them as shepherds instead of looking to jesus. that is a reality that flock-shepherd(s) system cannot escape regardless of all the cool things they attempt to do to escape that.

here is a test - ask the people who participate in that congregation who their pastor is - if they respond with anything other than jesus than there is a problem.

cheers,
rob

Faithful said...

interesting question. With this group...I bet they would respond with Jesus. Glen makes it very clear who is really the head of the body. They also have a VERY high involvement ratio...something like 75% I think was the last number I got.

They don't even have their own building. They rent a school auditorium and about half the church actually meets in homes. So, there are actually many shepherds in the body...as it should be.

They all come together for ministry. If you check out their website, you will see the different ways they minister to one another and to the community around them.

The reality is that Yeshua does have people who are gifted as shepherds. That is their calling. The difference is...are people looking at shepherds as being someone who tells them what to think...or who runs their lives? Or are they looking at their shepherds as people who are just like them, who work alongside them, and who happen to have the gift of supporting them through hard things? Big difference.

There is nothing wrong with shepherds. What is wrong is when there is only one shepherd...or just a few. What is wrong is when shepherds are being asked to do things that Yeshua is not calling them to do.

There are many who are called to be shepherds...whether it is just over your own family or whether it expands out to a small group you might meet with (and the shepherd is not necessarily the leader, either) or even just other believers who you support and help walk the walk.

Yahweh's gifts can be expressed in many ways.

rob horton said...

faithful, if that is true regarding "75%" - that would be impressive.

i concur regarding many shepards amongst the jesus-following-community. what i do believe is that god does not intend for us to identify any of these as OUR shepherd - that belongs to jesus alone.

grace and peace,
rob

Aida said...

Faithful, thanks for sharing. I believe there are probably some pastors who really do understand that the role of the pastor in the church is more supportive than controlling. I think it’s great that your to see more of that in the future.

Rob, I agree with you. Since I still go on Sunday mornings, I bristle when people call the leader of the group my pastor. Like you, Jesus is my pastor and not a man but it’s tough trying to explain that to people. I’ve had them tell me they understand but I know they don’t.

I’ve also heard pastors talk about “their sheep” and that’s another thing that I can’t stand hearing. When they have that mentally, they’ll fight to keep “their sheep” in their pen and they’ll feel threatened if the sheep display any inclination of wanting to go somewhere else.

rob horton said...

amenskis aida :)

Aida said...

Thanks, Rob.

Faithful said...

I totally agree that Yeshua is the Shepherd.

Heb 13:20 refers to Yeshua as that "great" Shepherd. He holds a place that no man can take.

1Pet 5:4 refers to Yeshua as the "Chief" Shepherd.

However, that does not mean that He cannot have undershepherds.

There is Eph 4:11 where the Greek word translated as either pastor or shepherd literally means a "herdsman"?

In Jude 1:12 it mentions shepherds again...and the indictment is not the fact that there are shepherds, but it has to do with what these shepherds are doing.

There is also Acts 20:28 where you see the Greek word that literally means "overseer". It is translated into many different terms, but the word that describes what that overseer does is a shepherding term. It literally means to fee, to tend a flock, keep sheep.

The same word is used by Yeshua Himself when He tells Peter "Shepherd My sheep."

Clearly, you cannot have a greater authority on the subject than Yeshua Himself.

Where I see the bigger problem is that one person is expected to function in all of the gifts, regardless of calling. The body of Yeshua has many people...each of whom have spiritual gifts. It makes no sense...and is, in fact, downright dangerous...to expect one person to do the work of the whole body.

A true "overseer" does just that...oversees. He/she does not do all the work him/herself. When you look at the chapters and verses that talk about spiritual gifts (and I see them described in many different places...not just one or two chapters), you see diversity. You see them spread out over the body.

Sadly, what is called "church" (which is another whole subject of its own) in modern day "Christianity" is nothing like what is described in Acts, on other scriptures or even in historical documents of the early church history.

The church in AZ strives to be that way and, from what I know of them, they come pretty darn close. I have never heard of a church with a setup like theirs before and hubby and I think it is the closest thing we have seen to scripture.

I think, too, that we have to be careful not to get hung on semantics and really look at the heart of the matter.

Aida said...

Faithful, I appreciate the time and effort you took to locate those scriptures and to post them here. Thank you for your comments. However, I think you’ve misunderstood what Rob and I are saying.

I think it’s true that there are believers who function as shepherds in the body of Christ. As a matter of fact, I know some but they don’t necessarily have a title or meet with a group in a building. Although they wouldn’t take that title on themselves, they have a care and a concern for the people of God as would a pastor.

The scriptures you gave make it clear that pastors are universal in function. They’re not just for a small segment of the body of Christ. The Ephesians scripture negates the idea that individuals have their own pastor. If so, then they would also have their own apostle, prophet, evangelist and teacher. Instead, all of these functions including the pastor are available to serve and encourage wherever they are needed in the church.

I’m glad the leadership of the group in Arizona is seeking to encourage the rest of the church to function in its gifting. That’s commendable.

I agree it’s important to not get hung up on semantics but I believe calling a man “my pastor” could indicate a wrong understanding of his role and that’s why I choose to not call any man “my pastor."

rob horton said...

nailed it aida!

Aida said...

Thanks, Rob.

The Lewis Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Lewis Family said...

The Lewis Family said...
So, this is interesting. . . Now let me throw in my 2 cents as a former pastors daughter. Let me add to it by saying a former charismatic Anglican pastors daughter. Having come from such a background I can identify with performance based actions as the daughter of the pastor and also as a spectator. I believe I had an advantage as I knew what pastors were really like (anyone else) and therefore was not so apt to place any pastor on too high a pedastal. However, as a young 'un I also quite enjoyed the 'fame' of being a pastors daughter. Quite the mixture.

I saw the neediness of people, frustrated by by dad's inperfections. I saw my mother at the end of her tether, tired of playing the role of a pastor's wife, yet not able to get past the religion of it all. I saw my dad worn out, yet still under the illusion that people need a shepherd and he was that shepherd. I also experienced deep, intimate times of the Holy Spirit in the midst of these people. Many of who had known me since birth. There was something special with what God had done in our midst even with our stupid ignorant mindsets.

All this to say, I was priveleged in one way and disallusioned in another way. i never experienced spiritual abuse to a huge degree as a result, but I also believed many of the lies that kept me caged until I finally saw Jesus. My dad was a man who was raised with a trouble father who did very odd things throughout his childhood. And when my dad started searching for reality he had a very powerful encounter with God and even had an angel hitchhiker tell him to keep the faith in this city. But he was just a man. And he was strongly encouraged to go to seminary and etc etc. . .

One can only give what they have been given. All we can ask God is to soften the hearts of all those who are so caught up in the system they have lost sight of the their first love. That is both pastors and churchgoers. They are no different. They have bought into the same lie. I love my dad and I love the people who have been part of my life in a church system. What I don't love is the lie and the pride that destroy and divide.

Aida said...

Lewis Family, thanks for sharing from your unique perspective as a pastor’s daughter. I’ve known pastor’s children in the past and the hurt that the system causes in a pastor’s family is tremendous.

I believe God works through this system in spite of its imperfections and much good has come out of it. However, most of the church has been caged up just as you were. It seems to me that the damage that's been done far exceeds any good that's been accomplished.

I’m so thankful that people are beginning to see the truth and I believe my children and my grandchildren will be part of a church that's quite different than the one we see today.