Wednesday, November 7, 2012

post-pro-pastor pt.3

I used to be paid to be a pastor - but now I'm not


this leads to some interesting and often amusing conversations (at least for me)

they usually go something like this:

"oh, so what are you doing now since you left the church?" - polite congregant

                   "I actually didn't leave the church, I'm just not paid anymore." - post-pro-pastor

(confused look)...."hmmmm, so what are you doing now that you're not a pastor?"

                   "I actually think I'm still a pastor, but I work a couple jobs to pay the bills."

"Well, good for you ever think you'll get back into the ministry again?"

                   "If you mean professional pastoring, I doubt it, but I've been wrong before."

"Ok, we just miss having you around."

                   (now laughing) "I'm right here."


during this post-pro-pastor journey, many assumptions and paradigms have been brought to light

do pastors have to be paid to fulfill the office of pastor?

should pastors consider their role as an office at all?

is there legitimacy to the role of tent-making?

and so forth


returning to the picture of the body of Christ, my desire is to see every body part function wholly in concert together with no part being held as more or less integral

but my concern is that if we attach significance and importance to specific parts through monetary compensation, then we are indeed perpetuating an unnecessary hierarchy and creating a potentially unhealthy body - separating 'clergy' from 'layity'


it becomes a seemingly natural expectation that those who are paid to do a 'job' should do the bulk of the work (after all, that's what they're paid for) and all too often other body parts are mistakenly disempowered to fulfill their own crucial roles in the body

instead, the non-clergy are encouraged to play support roles: teaching sunday school, singing on 'worship teams' and other un-paid duties that have become engrained in what church should look like

*disclaimer: I am not belittling sunday school teachers and worship teams in any way, but calling into question the dichotomy that seems to exists 

what if every member, gifted by the Holy Spirit served alongside other parts in unity?
what if each one saw their gift(s) as being just as integral as the next's?

it's difficult to rectify this when one class of Christians is being paid to use their gifts and the other class is expected to use their gifts for free


so the result are many:
- there are pastors who earnestly desire the people of their church to serve wholeheartedly, yet find it difficult to connect them into fulfilling ministry

- there are many people who sacrificially serve day in and day out, yet do not see what they do as integral to the body of Christ

- we, the Church, are not fully being who we are called to be because the vast majority of us are only expected to bring people to the building the church owns (as long as it's not too embarrassing) and volunteer an hour or two at the same building and hopefully give some money (more about that later)


it's time to change


Curtis Slater said...

This is good food for thought Tyson. Well written, and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on tithing (that seems to be where you're going next). Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

There are several church groups that operate with minimal or no paid staff. However, the hierarchy usually remains (often with women at the bottom).

Is whether or not people in the church are paid a salary the root issue here? Or are there deeper issues not being acknowledged?

Tyson Liske said...

@curtis - I'm pretty sure it'll start moving in the that direction

@anon - very astute observations.

no, I don't believe payment to be the sole root issue here, but I find it a tangible aspect to work with

beneath decisions and directions, attitudes, principles and priorities lie

yes, I agree that hierarchy concern is not with leadership (which I believe is a necessity) but with creating unnecessary hierarchy - which the exclusion of women in leadership is completely unnecessary

...between you and me, I have to pick my battles...can only have so many fronts at any given time

Anonymous said...

Speaking in the context of Galatians, I've heard Gordon Fee say that as soon as you start to elevate certain persons above any others the whole Gospel starts to unravel.

It amazes me, the paradigm, "engrained in what church should look like", is so established that it's hard for me to even imagine it being like anything else! But, I hear people like Richard Stern at WorldVision saying in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel, that the North American church, if it tithed 10%, could end global poverty in under 5 years. I hear Bjorn Lomborg in his documentary CoolIt say that for $250 billion per year (a number lower than that cited by Richard Stern) we could tackle most major social problems in the world, such as malaria, HIV, global warming, etc. I find myself asking not, "how can we make this happen?", so much as "how is it possible that this hasn't already happened?"

I'm reminded of Paul Tillich's belief that any belief system that isn't intimately engaged with its culture at its particular historical moment is irrelevant. This is what he called "taking time seriously". I want to be a person who (and be part of a community that) tries to give his life serving others, tries to love somebody, tries to be right on the war question, tries to feed the hungry, tries to clothe those who are naked, tries to visit those in prison, tries to love and serve humanity.

Tyson Liske said...

@anon - thank you very much for your comment!

I think we should/would be friends if we are not so already

you are inspiring

Unknown said...

You continue to amaze me, Tyson. I had forgotten how enjoyable your blog is - even for those of us who no longer pretend to be believers. It is wonderful to hear a voice of hope ringing, even if only for an instant, a bit louder, brighter, and clearer, than the noise of exhaustion and loneliness.

Tyson Liske said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyson Liske said...

don't worry about the deleted comment - just my amateur blog skills at work...

@unknown - my pleasure. quite honestly, it's therapeutic for my soul and the fact that anyone else reads/ enjoys is all gravy

my friend - may you still be able to say one of the most sincere prayers I know - "Jesus, help me overcome my unbelief."