I’m sure that pastoring a church has always been difficult. At the same time, though, it seems much harder today than it was 35+ years ago when I started in full-time pastoral ministry. Here’s my assessment about why the task is harder:
- The Internet has influenced church. Church members now face pornography that comes to them. Angry members create websites to attack church leaders. Even pastors may be tempted to claim as their own somebody else’s material found on the Internet—especially when church members now compare our preaching to heroes they listen to on the world-wide web.
- Church was more a part of the rhythm of life years ago. Sure, many people in our community then weren’t church attenders. At the same time, though, many other folks just knew they were going to church because that’s what their family did. They were at least present to hear the Word.
- “The Bible says” no longer means much. I can remember when few people openly questioned the authority of the Word, even if they didn’t always follow it. Now, we often have to first explain why we believe the Word at all.
- The world has come to us via travel and the Internet. That’s a good thing, in the sense that we can now take the gospel to the world by crossing the street or hitting the “send” button. On the other hand, meeting and knowing good people who follow other faiths has caused many church members to question the exclusivity of the gospel.
- In general, church members respected the pastoral position more back then. I was 20 years old when I started pastoring. I had not yet finished my undergraduate degree. I was hardly prepared to be a pastor, but folks respected me simply because of the position I held. I’m not sure that folks hold the position that highly today.
- What culture now accepts is rapidly changing. More than three decades ago, most of us would never have dreamed that we’d face the cultural issues we face today. Few of us would’ve thought that our culture would someday legalize acts that Christians classify as sin.
- We’re reaping the results of decades of poor discipleship. Discipleship wasn’t strong back then, either, but we’ve now laid on top of that weak foundation 30+ more years of poorly grounding believers. That means we’re often pastoring long-term believers who are really still babies in Christ.
What are your thoughts, pastors?