Pastors and seminary students are encouraged to establish healthy boundaries with the congregation and avoid workaholic tendencies, only to enter into congregations that wish (even expect) the clergy person to function more like ubiquitous über-pastor of yesteryear.
Add to this dynamic, most mainline churches are declining in membership, worship attendance, and financial resources. In many circumstances, the pastor becomes the scape goat for the great shrinkage that is taking place.
"If only my pastor preached more relevant / compelling / understandable sermons..."
"If only my pastor made more house calls..."
"If only my pastor had a more engaging personality..."
"If only my pastor spent more time in the office..."
"If only my pastor spent less time in the office..."
It's no wonder why 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month. [source]
There are many reasons why I don't feel called to serve as a pastor (even though I feel called to serve the church as a lay person)...and one of the biggest reasons is that congregations are becoming increasingly destructive to clergy.
I came across a fascinating Patheos article that addresses these, and other, concerns about the state of the clergy / congregation relationship. It's an excellent read for anyone affiliated with a church at some level. There are a lot of grim stats from various denominations that I found to be particularly intriguing.
It is, in most cases, the job of pastor to care for the institutional needs of the congregation (programming, worship, executive-level decisions, etc.) and the personal needs of its members (counseling, hospital visits, birthday greetings, anniversaries of the death of loved ones, etc.).
I wonder, though, by comparison...
...how many people in a congregation see it as their duty to care for their pastor's personal and professional well-being?
I'm curious what would happen if more church members took it upon themselves to pray for their pastor...offer their time and talents to helping the pastor with tasks...advocate for their pastor when fellow parishoners are being "mean sheep". How might our pastors and our congregations change for the better if more sheep assumed the task of caring for the shepherds?