Pastors and addiction

This post is from the defunct blog “Dying Church”

An important article from Sally Morgenthaler:

For over two decades, the entrepreneurial, multi-programmed church has been altering what people expect out of a church. The music they hear when they settle into their auditorium seats must  compete with what's on their iPod. High-end visual technology during the worship service is, for many attendees, a given. In short, churchgoers expect a Sunday morning worship service to match their aesthetic experiences in the broader culture.
It doesn't stop at worship. It extends to the quality of childcare, children's and teen's programs, and adult education. The consumer-driven, felt needs-based ministry has redefined what church is and does. The concept of the church leader has also changed.
Entrepreneurial church wisdom is that pastors must be visionaries, risk-takers, and innovators, as well as spiritual guides. They are expected to be top-of-the-heap speakers as well, their stage skills honed to the highest cultural standards.
Realistically, very few pastors are cut out for this kind of leadership.
The average pastor may be at his best as teacher, coach, or theological guide. He might shine as a catalyst: a convener of collaborative vision and process; a facilitator of deep community. If he tends toward the empathetic and intuitive, he may excel as a nurturer, counselor, wound-dresser, or heart-holder.
But he is not megachurch material.
Still, he makes the trek each year to the mecca-church of his choice. He takes copious notes in workshops, hoping to find the secret passage to  "church success." He leaves these multi-million-dollar facilities with eyes big as saucers, telling himself that he, too, if he tries hard enough, can take his church of 90 or 200 and make it a 2,000-attendee destination point.
And what if he doesn't have the assertive, sole-visionary style? He'll learn it. He'll even fake it. He'll become someone else, invalidate and dismiss his own gifts, his own unique, God-given leadership style and strengths and passions, all in order to emulate the large church pastor he's admired from afar.
The profound irony is that, in the past decade, the wider culture has been steadily moving away from its love affair with power and authoritarian leadership personas. The toppling of Dan Rather by a rag-tag group of bloggers was not an anomaly. In the same spirit of organizational deconstruction, corporate America is accelerating its shift out of 1980s, hierarchical systems toward collaborative, webbed approaches to decision-making.
As the trend toward flattened hierarchies escalates, pastors who now consider themselves misfits in the world of entrepreneurial ministry may be dumping the very skills and personality bents most needed in the new landscape of engagement and empowerment.
Tragically, some of these so-called misfits will turn to an addiction, an escape out of what they see as a no-win proposition: become someone else, fit the mold, or fail. Instead of pushing back on leadership stereotypes that have long deserved questioning; instead of focusing on their strengths and becoming who God crafted them to be, they cave in.


Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada