Reading a book titled "Church Refugees" by Josh Packard, PH. D. In it he shares a story of a pastor who discovered that presenting yourself as a pastor today, actually works against you. It has become a barrier to gaining trust and forming relationships.
He goes on to say, "It is 100 percent the case that my role as a pastor means that people are inclined to distrust me and my intentions. They're inclined from the beginning to think that I'm only interested in their money or telling them what to do."
I can relate to that because I've experienced it myself. Not only that, but starting a traditional 'Church' today from the ground up is increasingly difficult for this same reason.
When I first became a pastor in 2007 the relationships that I had with others begin to disappear. Not only with young people who I loved and cared for, and who grew to love and respect me as their youth minister and Sunday school teacher, but even some of the older ones, both believers and non-believers, co-workers, neighbors and even family.
I needed to know why. So I asked a group of older pastors, their answers were pretty much the same, "It's a lonely walk."
I get that, and I knew this at the time, however one thing I know for sure is that, anyone who has a close relationship with Jesus will experience this, not just 'church' leaders.
In my spirit I knew there was something else going on, and I refused to dismiss it.
Being curious as I am and a teacher of the gospel I felt that the Lord wanted to show me something, and he did. The more I knocked on His door, the wider it opened. (For example: How the Sermon Crippled the 'Church').
I began sharing what I was discovering with other church leaders who were starting a "Church" from the ground up. Until this day they call me and say, "Brother you were right." They are having a "tough go at it," but they are hanging in there. I'll share more on this in another blog post. Stay tuned...
In my blog post Four Things Your Pastor is Afraid to Tell You, I wrote that, If church leaders were honest, they would tell you that today, when a person finds out that you are a pastor, it quickly becomes a barrier. The person no longer sees you as just another person, but in many cases, an enemy.
Here are two reasons I think 'church' leaders are losing influence.
- Lack of Trust
With all of the past and current scandals involving church leadership, it's no wonder our influence has been diminished. People no longer see us as a force for good or admirable for that matter.
As it relates to the "Black Church" they no longer see 'church' leaders responding to the needs of the community. If they are, and when they do, they wonder if it's being done with an honest and censor heart for people, or, as personal kingdom building.
I recently read, that since 1977 Gallup, "Regularly asked Americans to rate the honesty and ethical standards of many professions in the United States. In 2013 the clergy received its lowest score ever. The number of people who believe clergy has very high or high levels of honesty and ethical standards fell below 50 percent for the first time."
Before the 'church' can even begin to talk about how people should live, it instead needs to begin regaining that trust.
- Decreasing Relevance
A growing number of people, across all age groups no longer see the relevance of institutional, church buildings and traditional ministries.
'Church' as it is known and done in America, is no longer seen as, "a relevant force in people's daily lives". I touch on this in one way or another in the following blog posts:
- Seven Reasons Church Leaders Need to Change
- Why Your Outreach Is Not Reaching Young Adults and How You Can Change That
- 3 Reasons Millennials of Color Leave "Church"
- 3 Cultural Trends Influencing Young Adults Church Leaders Shouldn't Ignore
- No One Seems to Want to Solve the Problem
- Six Reasons Millennials are Checking Out of Your Church
- Pastor's...This generation will not accept old generation ministry!
I know there is a lot that plays into this, and it varies based on region, denomination and culture, but any informed church leader has seen or experienced this.
Trust me when I tell you, it is the topic of discussion in meetings with some of the most prominent church leaders of our time.
What has happened over the years, is people have come to view the "Church building" as a business, ran by one person, with an entourage called deacons or administrators, who are not concerned with their "day to day" lives. They are no longer, "doing things" but "proclaiming things".
There is an increasing number of believers who no longer want to be apart of such organizations.
This growing trend is a strong indicator of the decreasing relevance and influence of the institution called "Church" as well as it's leadership.
"If the church continues to run off faithful followers who are, by their nature or religious conviction, conciliatory, compromising, and nonjudgmental, then we will continue to see a church that's increasingly insular, alienating, and irrelevant." Josh Packard, PH. D.