To be called of God to the Pastorate may be perhaps the highest calling. It is an honor, a privilege, a leading, a CALL for a lifetime of very special service to Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of Glory. It is a call from which anyone, having put the hand to the plow, should never turn back:
SHOULD NEVER QUIT.
But then came a disturbing survey conducted by the respected Barna Group and its President David Kinnaman which found through its survey that:
HALF OF U.S. PROTESTANT CLERICS CONSIDER LEAVING PULPIT
If that survey is accurate, 1 out of 2 Protestant Pastors in the United States, 1 OUT OF 2 are considering resigning from the pulpit. Not the church, but the pulpit itself, the calling to be a Pastor. That is a startingly and disturbing fact, is it not, again assuming it is accurate. 8.7 million Americans resigned their jobs in August and September. If 1 out of 2 Protestant Pastors do in fact actually resign, that would indeed be:
THE GREAT SPIRITUAL RESIGNATION.
The survey says that a major contributor is the PANDEMIC. That says President Kinnaman of THE BARNA GROUP became for Pastors a game changer. Congregations wore masks. They were required to comply with Social Distancing requirements and remain six feet apart. Congregations were subject to testing people. In some states, in–person church services were prohibited. Many churches and Pastors were, according to their leaders, persecuted and unfairly treated, such has occurred so often in California, New York, New Jersey and other states. The COVID scare caused many parishioners to avoid church, not to go in–person and be content with things on–line or with other in–person substitutes. It was indeed a dark day for that institution, that place where those who sought to worship Jesus Christ once gathered. As a result, so many Pastors, drawn to personal ministry, experienced a deep and disturbing sense of ISOLATION. The spirit of the live church could never be replicated on–line, never. There was no live singing, no praise. No choirs to thrill the hearts of those in the pews. There were no spiritual hugs. No personal sharing. The internet, said so many Pastors, conveyed mechanical words and pictures only without sensory experiences. It was for them a dark and sterile day for the church.
Pastors, who formerly felt the working of the Holy Spirit now found themselves unavoidably becoming ON–LINE CONTENT CREATORS and in addition, VIDEO PRODUCERS for which many were not trained nor motivated by. The content so often was missing spiritual dynamic. The spirit, the soul, the sensory experiences of the live church at work was missing and could never, ever be replicated virtually and on–line. Even as much of the spirituality of the institutional church was missing, so it was in the hearts and souls of so many Pastors. It was not, they felt, the ministry to which they were originally called. That gave rise to this newfound SENSE OF ISOLATION, even in adequacy and led to very tangible feelings of deep desire for resignation. They began to lose the commitment which the original twelve disciples of Jesus Christ had. They began to lose the NEVER QUIT spirit of the DAMASCUS ROAD ENCOUNTER OF APOSTLE PAUL. The virtual world of ministry, according to the Barna survey was not acceptable to as many as 1 out of 2 Protestant Pastors. They were called, they said, to live pulpit ministry and not to become TV–stars and actors.
There was also the ever–rising financial requirements of the institutional church. Many Pastors had little business experience and no aptitude FUNDRAISING. But church budgets increased, and did so dramatically. The costs of running the ministries and maintaining the facilities of the institutional church continued to grow to the point where the demand for finances, for fundraising became a major priority of a Pastor’s job description. More demand was made on regular timing. In addition, fundraising occurred for the expansion of church ministries and special projects, especially missionary endeavors. As the church grew, so did the demand for larger and better facilities, current and state of the art. Those financial demands dulled the spiritual vitality of the Pastors. Big was better. Size mattered. The financial changes were radical and in the minds and hearts of so many Pastors, made ministry that much more difficult.
There began to develop what the Barna Group surveyed called the:
CHURCH CONSUMER CULTURE.
Even as in the economic world the consumer ruled, and what the consumer wanted or demanded was the way things work, so it began to be the same with the church. So many congregants came to church to GET MORE THAN GIVE. That parishioner became demanding, requiring catering to wants and needs, much more theologically critical, running the church with proactive Boards of Directors making decisions which so often conflicted with the CALLING of the Pastor. CATERING became more prevalent than CONVICTING. And:
ME BECAME MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIM!
Divisions came so often. Congregations split. New churches were found and the former church suffered. The leadership of the Pastor, the respect for the Pastor’s credibility, for the Pastor’s CALLING, for the once dynamic SPIRITUAL MINISTRY waned. Many Pastors failed to exercise that leadership or allowed themselves to be subjected to the wishes and whims of an ever–growing demanding congregation. And so began to arise the feeling of frustration and the consideration of:
THE GREAT RESIGNATION.
The pandemic, the virtual world, all things on–line, slowly but surely produced this change, this sometimes radical change and slowly but surely, these major changes affected the sense of CALLING which these Pastors once had. So many did not have the spiritual muscle of the Apostle Paul, or the twelve disciples or so many others of the old and original church and they were ready for THE GREAT RESIGNATION. So many were unable to take THE STAND, stand up for what they believed was right, what they knew was their calling, what they knew God would have them do and succumb to the pressures of the new consumer culture which began affecting the church in so many ways. The institution dominated the leader. So many Pastors lost the ability to say NO. And in time, a pandemic culture two years old and more ever–growing, 1 out of 2 began to seriously consider becoming a part of:
THE GREAT AMERICAN RESIGNATION.
The bright flame of the CALL of Jesus Christ began to BURN OUT.