It's Scary to be a Pastor in 2022
For the last several years, the world has watched as celebrities and influencers have become part of the "cancel culture". Some are paying significant consequences for what they said 20 years prior when they were part of a different world and time. Maturity, growth, and learning have not been considered when someone has to answer for who they were many years ago. Some celebrities deserve to be canceled and even jailed and we all wonder why it took so long. But many of them are just like us. Humans who mess up.
The Church world can be much the same. I believe in high accountability. In fact, my husband told me about a pastor we both know who has a board of directors that is made up of friends who live all over the country. When asked about who keeps him accountable, he stated "I don't want accountability". I lost my breath when I heard that one. If you don't want accountability as a pastor then you have no chance in ministry. I believe in guardrails, that pastors are called to a higher standard, and that abuse and NDA's (or separation agreements as some churches call them) need to be called out. If you have to hide something, then sin grows there.
So what I am about to say next surprises me. It is scary to be a pastor in the year 2022. I used to think that if you live "above reproach" and to the highest standards of your calling, then there was nothing to worry about. The abusers and toxic pastors would be the ones to get called out, investigated, and removed. That is not always the case. The church has caught up to the cancel culture of the celebrity world and they are canceled for big and small things alike.
Above reproach. That is quite a saying. And it is impossible. Maybe we are the ones who are setting up our pastors for failure. We are putting up standards that they can't live up to. And when they fall even the slightest bit short - we blast them. Instead of equipping and caring for our pastors on a regular basis, we sit back, wait, and watch as they go about life. A misstep - and it is shouted from the rooftops. They need tools, teams, accountability, and support.
Tonight my husband told me that a prominent local Christian College has an enrollment in their pastoral program of only 40 people this fall. This used to be a thriving major. The lack of students that want to be pastors is gripping. I can't say that I am surprised. It is scary to be a pastor in 2022. Ministry is to serve and give of your life to answer the call of God. What people are learning is that it can be so messy and you can pay dearly for your humanness. Perfection is the standard, and no one lives up to it.
My husband also told me about Matt Chandler pastor of The Village Church and president of the Acts 29 church planting network. I obviously don't know the whole story. But if a pastor has to be put on leave for the sole reason that his text to a woman was “frequent” and “familiar” while his wife and her husband knew about it, I would say this is a scary time to be a pastor.