Pagan Christianity II

Following on from the shocking stats on the pastorate that Barna and Viola give in their “Pagan Christianity” they follow up with these insightful words about pastors:

“The demands of the pastorate are crushing; they will drain any mortal dry. Imagine for a moment that you were working for a company that paid you on the basis of how good you made your people feel. What if your pay depended on how entertaining you were, how friendly you were, how popular your wife and children were, how well-dressed you were, and how perfect your behavior was?

Can you imagine the unmitigated stress this would cause you? Can you see how such pressure would force you into playing a pretentious role – all to keep your authority, your prestige, and your job security?

The profession dictates how pastors are to dress, speak and act. This is one of the major reasons why many pastors live very artificial lives. Congregants expect their pastor to always be cheerful, completely spiritual, and available at a moment’s call. They also expect that he will have a perfectly disciplined family. Furthermore, he should never appear resentful or bitter. Many pastors take to this role like actors in a Greek Drama.”

I’d have to say they’re right. And it’s not that we want to act or be artificial, it’s just that the church can’t handle us being real. By and large our motives are good. We wish to set a good example and demonstrate our faith rather than being all talk and no action. While this has good motives, it has a huge, cancerous downside.

In the Q&A at the end of the chapter, Barna addresses this.

“Some (pastors late in their careers) have personally confessed to us ‘it didn’t affect me for a number of years, but after a while, it began to change me without my realizing it.’ They explained how they became people-pleasers, trying to play to their ‘audience’ and maintain a particular image. This observation has nothing to do with a pastor’s motives. It has to do with the powerful influence of an unbiblical system.”

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One Response

  1. I can totally relate. It can breed a false sense of self………we all set out trying not to fall into this trap, but the system still manages to trap us and a lot of times we just end up being fake. I tried the vulnerability thing in my church. Some got it and found it freeing, others could not handle it.

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