For the love of the game

I’ve often thought that our trust issues in United Methodism would be helped with more public thinking by the men and women charged with leading our denomination.

This is why I have always valued Sky McCraken’s blog.

His latest post is a spot on example: A Pastor By Any Other Name — Revisited

The question that emerges for me after reading his post goes something like this: Would I be a pastor if there was no salary, no insurance, and no retirement plan? Would I do it because I was called and for no other reason?

If the answer is yes, then what would that look like?

The answer to my first two questions is “yes.” But I’m not sure what the answer to the third question would could be.

I wonder how you would answer.

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9 thoughts on “For the love of the game

  1. Yes, but I have a family to support. So for me I’d be bi-vocational. I’m not sure what that other vocation would be.

    1. I understand that question and that bind. And I’m aware that most secular employers are not in love with the idea of a person splitting their loyalty and energy the way a bi-vocational pastor does.

      1. Pastors would have to change. Churches would have to adjust their expectations. Conferences would need to think hard(er) about re-appointment. And, yes, employers, if a pastor decided not to be self-employed, would need a certain amount of flexibility.

        I think that the model of ministry we are talking about would require smaller churches, increased laity participation and an entirely different mindset than most of us currently have. If we decided that this was the path we wanted the UMC to take, I don’t think that we could simply throw a switch and get there. It would have to be incrementally done.

  2. This is a very dangerous and appropriate question. As you know, in places where our church is rapidly growing (like Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines) there are many effective pastors who receive little or no salary. These pastors trust God to keep his promise in Matthew 6–that God will provide for those who seek first His kingdom.

    I asked this question in the 3 years before I retired early. I began to wonder about the ethics of being paid for preaching. I concluded that preaching in exchange for money is NOT consistent with scripture. There is a conflict of interest when a preacher depends on his/her congregation for his/her livelihood. We have strayed FAR from Wesley’s ingenious model of appointed circuit riders.

    I ended up answering the question by returning to the pulpit following my sabbatical, and justifying it by thinking that I was not being paid for preaching, rather I was being paid to be the administrator of the church. In time, however, I concluded that I could not in good conscience continue to serve as a pastor in the United Methodist Church; and I retired early.

    God has remained faithful to his Matthew 6 promise, and I have managed to keep a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator for the 11 years before I became eligible for my pension. It hasn’t been easy, but I believe I have been faithful to God as I left the active ministry of the church.

    I miss preaching though. I still feel a “fire in my bones”, but no one is knocking on my door with preaching invitations…maybe someday, in God’s time..

      1. Generally, I think what paid pastors do in the pulpit cannot be termed “preaching”. Congregations prefer to either be entertained, to be taught, or to be given self-help advice from the pulpit.

        Preaching (speaking God’s Word) generally happens outside of the pulpit; it is spontaneous, and it emerges out of an intimate connection to the Holy One. Our congregations definitely need to hear genuine preaching now and then; but I don’t think they really want to.

        1. The distinction you make here is intriguing. Can you point to some examples that would help me understand it better?

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