Reading time: 2 minutes.
When did church become a business? Or maybe the right question to ask is, when in history has church not been a business? It seems churches today are being thrust into the ground by leadership that are not qualified to run businesses, and our money (offerings) are going along with them. When we pull back the sheets, we find toxic leaders who have no applicable qualifications in business/financial management. Frankly the “business side” of running a church should not be the business of the Clergy. Billions of dollars each year are poured into the ministry only to be managed by the very people who often have issues managing their own personal finances. Additionally, it seems that the focus of the church has shifted towards appearance and appeal, investing in ways to market/sell God in hopes to increase attendance rather than creating a place reserved for fellowship, worship, and prayer. Why are we allowing this to happen?
We close our eyes to what happens behind the “green curtain,” scared of what we could find. Could it be as shocking as what was revealed to Dorothy? A bumbling man with an inferiority complex?
Frankly, I believe we feel safer and happier having faith that God will take care of the details. But is that enough? Where does our responsibility lie in regards to the church? While our lives pass by who is taking care of the people who have chosen to sacrifice all to serve us (the church’s body) and God unconditionally? Here is what I believe to be the crux of the issue:
Somewhere along the way it become “required” for a Pastor to have a college degree. If a Pastor would like to advance in the “ranks,” it is common for them to be required to have an advanced degree (i.e., a Masters in Theology or PhD in a similar field). Has anyone ever stopped to consider that degrees cost money? Where are Pastors getting the money from? They come out of college with a “Private School” degree, costing $25K per year (on the low end), hoping to score an Associate/Youth Pastor position. These jobs pay on average under $44K per year (http://www.uscongregations.org/survey-associate-pastors.htm), leaving the new pastor with a load of debt, taking upwards of 12-15 years to pay back. Relatively speaking this may be close to the same situation that someone coming out of their undergrad with a business degree is in. That being said, there are some fundamental issues here:
– Managing the burden of personnel debt and leading a church is NOT a good combination; one is now in the service of two masters. Matthew 6:24 states, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (NIV)
– Having to pay for and get a degree to be “credentialed” in something God has called us ALL to, is a lie. Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
Today, many Pastors are finding themselves in a perpetual state of debt/darkness chasing after a piece of paper. When will the congregation stand up and decide to put an end to the glorification of a college degree and put more emphasis on the sanctity of the Clergy which comes through apprenticeship, personal study, and an unyielding devotion to God? We need to realize that we (the church’s body) are fueling all the institutions that are in the business of making money off of Pastors “in training,” leaving the ones in which we look to for spiritual guidance under a load of stress and burden, unable to lead effectively. Also, when will the business leaders in attendance at church chose to stand up to help run the church be diligent in the way in which we apply our offerings and manage/lead the organization? If the church continues down the path it is on, it will continue to lose any of the credibility which it has gained, in turn, doing a disservice to God who was never in the business of “doing business” in the church in the first place.
Matthew 21:12 reveals, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” 13 It is written, he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.”
We can only blame ourselves for the current state of the church. It needs a facelift, and I believe we are wholly responsible for the direction in which it will go in the future. But to get it headed in the right direction we have to first and foremost appropriately prepare and care of those that God has chosen to lead His congregation. They cannot lead effectively while in the service two masters, and while trying to accomplish things in which God has clearly called others in the congregation to help with.