Financially Unstable Churches

I came across this old post from Mark Horne today. He discusses the financial instability of many churches and the toll that takes on a pastor’s family and future. He writes:

Churches that should have long ago been closed down because they are financially incapable of supporting a pastor go on and on and on, and because there are more graduates from Reformed seminaries than there are churches, these congregations will have a regular supply of over-optimistic cattle with their young wives and children to drive through their slaughterhouse. More often than not congregations get tense with their pastor in these situations and lower their expectations so that they are even less likely to want to pay one more.

In America, this is mostly hidden. Most people going to seminary come from healthy suburban settings where they see the pastor provided for (usually) in a way commensurate with grad school education. They think they know their own country and they think they can minister anywhere and they assume that finances will work out. They are, in short, totally deluded. What they think is normal is actually a major success story that requires beating odds and leaving other pastors in the other situations. Some, realizing the true situation and having the ambition to match it will do all right. Others will not realize what it really takes. They will expect as a natural outcome to pastor the sort of church in which they came to feel called to the ministry.

Pray that such people have an extended network of friends and family who are financially well-off. 

I have never yet seen a presbytery refuse a call because the finances were pathetic. This is America. Buyer beware. After all, the guy has been through seminary so what else can he do but pastor? We’re keeping him unemployed if we prevent him from his call. He wants it. The church wants it. And we all know it is “Liberal” to close down churches. We have to let them limp along and damage as many families as possible.

“Ministry should be sacrifice.” First Corinthians 9 makes it clear that Paul believed that–and thus remained single and childless. That has nothing to do with calling husbands and fathers to pastor churches. A lot of these gifted men would be a ton better off if they found other work, got to the point where they were skilled and self-sustaining, and then tried to plant churches themselves. Yes, that is really hard to do, but the stakes are lower than what is going on now.

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