Pagan Christianity I

So a friend who dropped out of church (while I was leading it by the way) but remained a good friend (I lead him to Christ some 5 or 6 years ago) handed me Barna’s Pagan Christianity yesterday. By this morning I’d finished it.

I read it with interest. The authors cover basically how the traditional church has ended up in it’s present forms, but with a skewed focus on what happens in the building and the building itself.

They do a reasonable job of debunking the “traditions” we hold so dear in our institutional churches, but I think they get confused with scriptures that relate to the “house to house” meetings with the city-wide church, with the large “temple” style church meetings and that leads them to some extremes and some large holes.

So how does this relate to we of the scrapheap? They spend one chapter on the pastor, and I was drawn to a few statements (without going into the origin of the role as we know it today).

“The contemporary pastor…does damage to himself. The pastoral office has a way of chewing up many who come within its parameters. Depression, burnout, stress, and emotional breakdown occur at abnormally high rates among pastors. At the time of this writing, there are reportedly more than 500,000 paid pastors serving churches in the United States. Among this massive number of religious professionals, consider the following statistics that testify to the lethal danger of the pastoral office:

94% feel pressured to have an ideal family
90% work more than 46 hours per week
81% say they have insufficient time with their spouses
80% believe the pastoral ministry affects their family negatively
70% do not have someone they consider a close friend
70% have lower self-esteem than when they entered the ministry
50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job
80% are discouraged or deal with depression
More than 40% report they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and unrealistic expectations
33% consider pastoral ministry an outright hazard to the family
33% have seriously considered leaving their position in the past year
40% of pastoral resignations are due to burnout
1400 ministers in all denominations across US are fired or forced to resign each month

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