Dear church: Don’t ruin the future of Christianity!

We could use more Davids!

One of the many issues facing mainline denominations is the rapidly decreasing base of ministers to carry on the work of the church. Recent studies, such as the one the Barna Group released, share evidences that are similar to this:

“A decade ago the median age of mainline Senior Pastors was 48; today it is 55. That represents a shockingly fast increase, representing a combination of too few young pastors entering the ranks and a large share of older pastors not retiring.” Link to the article here.

I am an anomaly in the church world. I officially began my career as a senior pastor at age 24. I just celebrated my 10th year in pastoral ministry. I think I can offer a few reasons why young people are not entering the ministry as generations before them:

1- Testimony: Congregations that do not honor their pastor.

I understand that ministry is a call from God. However, it is also evident that community helps foster the spiritual gifts with which that call is used. Many churches have created a culture that is antithetical to the biblical premise of uplifting, building, and encouraging to the do the work of Christ.

Hopefully your experience is different than mine, but I can remember several instances where groups of people worked against the pastor than with him. Instead of praying for him they schemed against him. Instead of encouraging him they spoke against his family, ministry, and person. Instead of appreciating the call he had, they treated him more like an employee. Instead of viewing his salary as a blessing, they viewed it as a necessary evil.

It was tantamount to Moses trying to lead the people out of slavery! (See Numbers 16 for an example).

Why would young people want to be a part of a culture like that? Instead of spending so many years in seminary, they could be doctors, lawyers, or some other type of profession that helps people and provides them a lifestyle that can be a blessing to their families.

And yes, the pastor’s families take the hits just as hard as the pastor does, no matter how hard the pastor tries to insulate them. Many pastors’ kids have left the faith because of congregations that show no honor to their leadership.

Church people need to understand the damage they do in this regards to the future of their churches and Christianity in general.

2- The job: Congregations do not understand the role of pastor.

A friend commented to me that you have one of two options as a pastor. Either we can be everyone’s friend or be the leaders that God desires us to be. Many desire to be coddled, affirmed, and treated like a spiritual baby when the role of a minister to is build up an army for the Lord!

In addition, many in church do not understand how difficult pastoral ministry is. All they evaluate is the hour on Sunday that they are in church. However, there is no thought given to the thought, prayer, study, planning, and spiritual warfare that transpires during the week leading up to that Sunday.

As the old adage says: It’s easier to judge what we don’t understand than to try and understand.

People leave their jobs and they enter into the rest of their lives. They get to have weekends and time away. Pastors are pastors twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Pastors take their jobs home with them. They are constantly considering the weight of their jobs.

Generally, if someone messes up at their job, the consequences are limited. If a Pastor messes up, the consequences can mean the difference between someone going to heaven and hell.

3- Finances: The pastor is one of the most underfunded vocations around.

In dealing with one of my earlier points, it surprises me how many people see the pastorate as just another job. Even church people, who trust their pastor with the instruction that will take them to heaven, seem to want to separate the business side of ministry with the spiritual.

Or you have people with a poverty mentality whose philosophy is to try to maintain their pastor humble while they refuse to support the work of the ministry with their tithes and offerings. They believe (with a satanic ideology), that the pastor needs to live with a greater faith than they have to.

The Bible teaches us:

“Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” Galatians 6:6

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. …The laborer is worthy of his wages.”1 Timothy 5:17-18

“In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:14

We need young people in ministry! We need to encourage them, build them up, and allow them to fulfill their calling. If you are a member of a church, do your best to support and encourage the man (or woman) that has been placed in spiritual authority over you. If the church would follow these verses, I believe we will see many more young people desire to be in ministry.

“Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith…Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” Hebrews 13:7,17