“Expectations, Part 2”
This is a continuation of “The Great Resignation” of pastors.
Some of you may not know that I had been on medical disability from January 2010 to September 2013 due to the stress of ministry. St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Rolling Hills Estates was the perfect congregation for my re-entry. They kept me from exiting the ministry.
Do not get me wrong, there were plenty of difficulties, but their commitment to creating a space for all people to experience the grace of God renewed my belief in the Church. The congregation had gone through difficult changes, but people were still committed to each other. Did I help them return to the glory days of the bygone era? No. By the “mega-church” rubric, we were a struggling small church, but in the kindom of Gaod, we made a difference.
The real gem was the people. We disagreed about ideas, but they were gracious to each other. When decisions had to be made, we had honest exchanges of opinions with openness to each other. When it came time to implement changes, even those who questioned it vigorously worked diligently in implementation.
As my time at St. Luke’s was closing, I considered leaving the ministry. However, I was extremely blessed as the next call brought me to UUC. The renewed energy I found at St. Luke’s enabled me to be a calm influence in the midst of the storm as the church left its historical building and moved into an abandoned storefront. Faithful leadership worked tirelessly and made painful but necessary changes to become agents of Hope on Union Avenue.
The average age of pastors is much younger than the average age of congregations, and generational gaps reveal the stress of mismatched expectations. Pastors leaving ministry are catching up to young people walking out of churches.
The primary mismatch is that many pastors act as if our degree in “Divinity” describes them, not the subject matter we studied, and many parishioners see the church as a business, and they are the “bosses” of pastors because they “pay” for pastor’s salary.
Young people have been leaving churches for decades, citing antiquated methodologies and out-of-touch ideologies. Generations have complained that the Church is looking backward, trying to preserve the cultural ethos of ancient times, while the young people are exploring a faith that can relate to their future realities.
The current transition is the Church adjusting to the post-modern technological world. This is not the first time the Church is declining in numbers, influence, and relevancy. The Church will continue the pruning process of young people leaving churches and pastors leaving ministry until another “Reformation” connects the Church to people’s expectations.