In September 2010, four gay children died from bullying. Children are
being bullied, tormented and abused for many different reasons, and
there is a distinct upswing on bullying in our schools. Please take
this to prayer with me.
Their stories are too little told—the stories of U.S. servicemen and women of devout religious faith who, often at great cost, stood up to protest the use of torture in the American open-ended war on terror.
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.
Construction of religious buildings is at its lowest level since record keeping began in 1967. Declining participation and financial funding and a shift away from megachurches are cited as reasons for the decline. Congregations are also deciding to put more money into ministry rather than structures. The building of religious structures peaked in 2002 and has been decreasing ever since, though there are signs that it may have bottomed out in 2013. Mormons and Muslims, both with growing populations, are exceptions to this trend (Wall Street Journal, December 4).