or maybe I should have called this We’re All to Blame. You can look at it either way. Either we’re all implicated in this mess that is called church, or you can’t really blame anyone.
I’m going to say something that may sound a bit surprising: I don’t think pastors are evil. I know, I told you it would be surprising. Let me clarify. I do think that pastors are given a dangerous amount of authority over the spiritual and emotional growth of the people they “serve.” I also think that pastors profit from “serving” others. I think that a system is in place that keeps pastors above and, most detremental, seperated from the congregation, forcing the congregation to need the pastor, and therefore forcing them to pay him. Sounds pretty evil, and it would be if pastors actually went into pastoring for the above reasons. I don’t think many do. I think lots of pastors want to serve Christ and the Church and all that, they just have been so immersed in the church system that they don’t know any other way. They feel like it is important to do stuff for God. I believe for many it is because they genuinely love Him. They think that pastoring is the way to do that. They’re wrong, but not evil.
Then there is the poor helpless congregation. These people don’t know their left from right, and they are being misguided into some crazy religious pyramid scheme by their pastor. Well, I don’t think that is exactly accurate either. Honestly, I think that it is quite possible that if anyone is to blame, the congregation might be at the top of the list. Following Jesus is hard. It requires sacrifice. It takes time. It might make you volnurable. It might get you hurt. It would be a lot easier to just throw money at someone else to do all that hard stuff for you. I can’t grow vegetables, so I pay someone else to do it for me and I buy their product at the grocery store. What if I could make my spiritual experience the same way? What if I could say that I’ve done my share because I have paid someone else to do the studying, and the visiting, and the encouraging, and the counciling in my place? That would make my life much easier and I could still feel good about serving God. I have created a need for a pastor.
It’s like whenever a dictator takes over an empire or a nation. The people are willing to give up their freedom for security. There will always be someone there to provide that security (at least temporarily) in exchange for power over those people (permanently). The dude who wants to take the power is kind of a jerk, but the people willing to give up their own responsibility are kind of the jerks at the same time.
Add to this, the fact that this crap has been going on for thousands of years (just speaking within the context of Christianity) and now you have a system in place built on the laziness of the many and the powerhunger of the few, that has been so engrained that we don’t know any other way to function. I don’t think that most pastors today have a malicious desire for power. I also think that there are many congregants who truly desire to serve others and serve Christ. It’s just hard. It’s confusing. It’s all muddy and convoluted and many people don’t even know there is a problem. Many do, and they just can’t put their finger on it. The bottom line is that I think that this misunderstanding that the system is the Church is simply that, a misunderstanding, one that is deeply rooted and culturally important and difficult to let go of, but a misunderstanding none the less.