24 April, 2008

Pastor or Friend for hire?

The issue comes up fairly frequently as to what the "duty" of the pastor is. There was a generation that thought the pastor should spend the bulk of his time going from one member's house to another visiting with them. I've always thought this was quite a waste of time and a far cry from what Jesus or the early Christians would do. Over the years I have seen so many people get upset and leave a church because the pastor did not visit them enough. What kind of garbage is that?
I've stressed to the people that I pastor that I generally am not going to be coming to their homes unless they invite me. That is pretty simple; isn't it?
But still the silliness goes on. You know, it seems to me that if one of these people wanted a friend to come over, they would call and invite them to come over. Why not the pastor? I really think that some people think that since they support the church, (read pastor) then the pastor owes it to them to come over on a regular basis... I mean, after all, they do pay his salary. Right?

There are many things that can be said about the foolishness of that thinking, but lets just look at it from a very practical standpoint. In a small church like the one where I pastor, where we typically have around 70-80 people on any given Sunday, there are also another 20-30 absent on that same Sunday. Let's just round it off to say there are 100 people affiliated with the church. Statistically, every person who comes to the church has another 3-5 (or more) family members or friends that the pastor also gets called to help out when someone is sick, dying or going through crisis. Let's take a low number and say 2 for each person. That means in a church the size of the one where I pastor, that means I become "pastor" at some point to around 300 people. Now just for the sake of keeping this simple, lets say that only 1 of every 5 people calls on the pastor each week, either to visit, talk on the phone, deal with a crisis or what ever and each one takes an average of 30 minutes of his time. That would average out to about 30 hours a week to deal with these situations. That is 30 hours, before the pastor takes any time to study for his messages, pray or deal with any of the other church business. This may sound far fetched, but I can assure you that for most pastors, these numbers are far less than what they actually spend. Consider that for the average person that I visit, it is usually at least an hour, maybe longer. The number of phone calls can be maddening. They are not just members, but folks in the community, business needs, companies trying to get you to try their products in the church. And then there is time spent working on the church building, cutting grass, cleaning the church... and before you know it, pastors are spending 70 or more hours dealing with the church issues... and this is not including the time we are actually teaching and preaching! Now if you notice, there are two key things missing here... one, there has been no time allotted to meet un-churched, un-saved people, and secondly (and most importantly) there has been NO time to spend with our own family!

By now you are wondering what brought this on with me today. Well, once again, I got ripped on today by a "dear" church attender because they felt like I had been negligent of my duty because I have not been by to visit with them in a few weeks and that they have been hearing from people in town that I have been spending too much of my time with "heathen folks" and my reputation was being ruined. (I have to admit, I consider that a compliment.) I really don't get it. Do people like this really think that God put the pastor in the church to be their "friend" that they don't even have to be nice too; someone they can gossip about, chew out and call names without fear of losing this friend? Is that what they think a pastor is?

If you can't tell, I'm more than a little ticked off right now, and I have to confess that I'd like to tell some folks exactly what I think of their version of Christianity right now. I'd like to, but I won't.

1 comment:

L A Brannen said...

Amen, brother! I can relate to that. Unfortunately some officials in the higher ranks have no idea what you are talking about.