Many of the recent articles about clergy burnout suggested that it's a symptom of cognitive dissonance: pastors think their job ought to be a particular kind of work and are frustrated when it ends up involving something else. None of the media coverage, however, offered a compelling description of the call to ministry itself.
Over the years, I have kept coming back to the
words of Edwin Friedman, “Stress comes less from overwork than from
taking responsibility for the problems of others.” We can adapt these
words for church finance: “Stress comes less from money challenges than
from taking responsibility for the money problems of others.”
As yet another megachurch pastor grabs national headlines for alleged sexual indiscretions, I’m tempted to skip the story entirely. I’d rather pretend that the civil lawsuits accusing Bishop Eddie Long of sexual misconduct don’t concern me.
What must it have been like to encounter the earthly Jesus, to meet him
as he went about his ministry? When the gospels attempt to share
something of this with us, they are no doubt hindered by the
impossibility of rendering such an experience in words. But a common
refrain in the gospels describes Jesus as "speaking with authority."
By one estimate 7,000 churches close down each year in the United States. A 2012 study predicted that 20 percent of the churches in Philadelphia would close within ten years. Many of these churches are architectural gems. Razing these buildings can be very expensive. A more satisfactory solution is to repurpose them, turning them into art and culture centers or housing units. The Mount Airy Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is having 20 condominiums built on its property. The sanctuary will be leased back to the congregation for its continued use (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4).