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."
A statistical projection is not a prediction, but if the number of Christians in Britain continues to decline at the current rate, there will be no more British Christians by 2067. Between 2001 and 2011 the church lost 5.3 million members—about 10,000 each week. The rate of decline in the Church of England is higher than that of other denominations. In one survey the numbers dropped from 40 percent of the population in 1983 to 29 percent in 2004 and just 17 percent last year. The decline in the Catholic Church is not as precipitous because of the influx of Catholic immigrants. Sometime in this century Muslims will outnumber Christians in Britain (Spectator, June 13).