A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years

I am in my thirtieth year of pastoral ministry, and Thom Rainer is spot on in his seven ways pastoring has changed in thirty years:
1. Thirty years ago, most people in the community held the pastor in high esteem. Today most people don't know who the pastor is, nor does the pastor hold any position of prominence in most communities.

2. Thirty years ago, most people in the congregation held the pastor in high esteem. Though I cannot offer precise numbers, there is little doubt that church members as a rule don't view pastors with the same esteem as they did thirty years ago. That is one major reason serving as a pastor is becoming increasingly difficult.

3. Leadership skills are required more today than thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, I could preach sermons well and care for the congregation, and I would be deemed at least an adequate pastor. The demands and the expectations of the pastor are much higher today. Many of those demands can only be met with at least decent leadership skills.

4. Interpersonal skills are required more today than thirty years ago.  Pastors thirty years ago could get away with some personality quirks because they were generally held in such high esteem. No more. Pastors are supposed to relate near perfectly to everyone.

5. Outreach was accomplished by getting people to come to church services thirty years ago. That is not so today.  I remember some of the classic outreach ministries I led thirty years ago. They were all designed to get people to visit church services as a first step. Today, many barriers must be addressed in order for someone to be receptive to come to our churches.

6. Thirty years ago, there were very few "nones." The  2012 Pew Research project that identified 20 percent of all American adults as non-religiously affiliated has become a marker of change. Almost all people claimed some type of religious affiliation thirty years ago whether they were believers or not. It was not culturally accepted to be a "none" thirty years ago; there is no cultural stigma attached today.

7. The Internet and social media have made pastoring much more challenging than it was thirty years ago. In many ways, it has been healthy that the pastors and their ministries are more transparent. For example, sex abuse of children in churches became a national concern when many priests and pastors were named as sexual predators. But there is no rule that someone must speak truthfully on the Internet and, specifically, in social media. Pastors today must deal with issues about them that travel fast on the Internet, even if a church member or someone else tells a complete lie.
Thom's entire post can be read here.

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