Useless Clergy

I’ve been mulling over this article and study since I read it about 2 weeks ago.
If you don’t want to click on the links, basically, it says that “just 37% of Americans say clergy contribute ‘a lot’ to the nation.”

It stings.

Mainly because, it’s true.

Take a look at me. At times, I think I’m barely making an impact in my own congregation. Other times, a little more than barely. But, because I’m so focused on my own congregation, I know I’m making zero impact in the community.

Most clergy I know spend all their time in their office. They We hope that the parishioners will be an extension of us and reach out to the greater community. And help pick up a lot of our slack from our day to day work. Because, contrary to popular belief, we do actually work outside of Sundays.

But, a lot of the congregation expects the clergy to do that on their behalf. Maybe to sort of set the pace or example. Or that the pastor should pick up their slack from their day-to-day life.
We live in a world where everyone is busy.
And in a culture where busy is actually glorified.
The busier you are, the more important people think you are.

Anyway, we’re left with a diffusion of responsibility situation. Both the clergy and congregation looking at one another saying, “Wait, why aren’t you reaching out to the neighborhood?”

Sometimes, when we do try to get involved in our community, well, we just don’t know what we’re doing because we’re so out of touch with the world that immediately surrounds us. We’ve become so immersed in Christianese that we think everything we do is normal and find it hard to believe that no one outside of our church circle knows what we’re talking about or trying to do.

It also doesn’t help that many view clergy and Christians through the lens of what they hear and on TV and through other medium and think that we are all intolerant, hateful, and counter-cultural,  and not in the holy Jesus way, because we do want to be counter-cultural. But in the bad way. In the way that we repulse everyone away from Christ instead of drawing them nearer to Christ.

And in that study 52% of those who go to church weekly say that “clergy make ‘a lot’ of positive contributions.” But… only 52% of our weekly congregants? That’s… well that’s pretty low, too. That means that 1 out of 2 of our church members really do believe that we only work once a week and that what we do doesn’t really matter in the big picture of things. 1 out of 2!

What is it that we’re doing wrong?
Well, I can list the many things that we’re  I’m  doing wrong… what exactly, then, is it that I’m doing right? If anything…? Or what should/can I be doing?

What this article really does for me is beg the question, Is the professional clergy necessary?

In the light of only 37% of Americans think that professional clergy are making positive contributions to the nation, are ordained clergy necessary? Is our bureaucracy and the millions of dollars that we spend upholding our broken system, methods of doing “church,” and money spent on ordaining more and more clergy to serve more and more declining churches… are we necessary?

Or is it more effective for the “clergy” to have “real world” jobs, rub elbows with the people of the community s/he serves, meet people where they are at — instead of spending their hours in their office putting out small fires here and there and doing more damage control than equipping? To not have professional clergies but to have part-time pastors?

Or — what is an effective way to get us more and more out of the office and more and more into the community? And in a way that it seems organic and genuine?

I really don’t know. I also really don’t know what I’m talking about.

But, what I do know is that there’s a lot of work I need to do and a lot of things about me and how I approach ministry that I need to change.

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