Friday, March 25, 2011

NYT on single would-be-pastors...

Here is a recent article in the New York Times that describes the difficulties single pastors have with finding full-time positions in evangelical churches:

I think what's so frustrating about stories like this is that they simply serve to reinforce what many people outside the Church (by that I mean Christianity as a whole) already think; namely, that churches are not offering a life-view that is really that compelling or different in a positive sense, so why should Christianity be taken seriously?

I understand this is not the whole story, and many churches are not as rigid as those represented in the article, but it makes me wonder: how do we offer Christianity as a meaningful option to people, when they can easily see that we aren't even able to offer a clear indication of what Christianity is supposed to be to ourselves?

Many churches are more concerned about one's marital status than the possibility of actualizing God's call on a person's life through ministry; others of us then come along and essentially say the first group doesn't know what it's talking about. What are people supposed to think?

I suppose this is a much bigger question, really: it has to do with the divisions among the Church as a whole, and what should be done about it. I don't have the answer, but I do think something has to change - something big - if churches, broadly speaking, ever expect to be taken seriously as anything more than just another cultural gathering-place. If that's all Church is, we're screwed.

Of course, many would probably say that's the point - the Church is supposed to be 'rejected' by the world and suffer persecution, etc. But there's a difference between suffering persecution and just being ignored because you've lost all credibility. Unfortunately, I suspect that in many churches, the real problem is the latter, not the former.

I still have hope for the Church as a whole, because I believe there are many churches who are striving to make their congregants into disciples who have faith in Christ and follow his life and teachings. Unfortunately, there are also many who are instead attempting to build ideologies, or just have social gatherings.

And, more frustratingly, these different Christian groups usually all claim to be doing the same thing (following Jesus), and usually, of course, they are doing it better than the other guy. No wonder people are confused, and pay less and less attention to us.

Any thoughts?


pitcher12k said...

This is very interesting...I haven't read the article, but I had a discussion with some friends in a Bible study last night about this topic (divisions in Christianity). We were reading Luke 9, and came upon the part where Jesus says, "Whoever is not against you is for you."

We decided it would be neat to try and go to a church service of a different denomination than what we typically attend, and since we are all Protestant, we will try a Catholic mass on our campus. At least, those of us in college will be, I think. Hmm..I apologize for my rambling :/

I agree with you, if church is just seen as a place to go one day a week and play dress-up, Christianity will die. I also like the distinction you made between being persecuted and being ignored.

As for what has to be is my opinion that any sort of change must start with myself. I think you are suggesting this, but on a bigger scale, that the change should start in the church. (duh, change starting outside of the church would not be much better, would it? [directed towards myself])

Identifying the problem is the first step; without a problem you have no reason to search for a solution. We have our problem, lets find a solution :)

Ok, here is an ending thought: In regards to your last paragraph specifically, what can we do about that? What can you/I/our respective churches/Christian communities do to change that view, or to show that we 'really are' following Christ?
(or is that what you are asking? haha I'm sorry if I am just restating your question..)

Geoff said...

Thanks, I appreciate your comments. I like the idea of visiting different churches and getting a feel for different denominations. But, I also think its important to find a place where you can serve, and even if its not perfect, really get involved. That's often difficult for people to do these days, in our 'live for yourself' kind of culture.

pitcher12k said...

True, that is a good point! It is important to find somewhere that you can get connected and be supportive and supported by your Christian community. And I feel like the 'live for yourself' is not so much a cultural thing, but just a human-pride thing. I am not sure, as I have not lived in any other culture, but it is an idea. Either way, you are right. haha how can we serve each other if we are so focused in on ourselves?