Jump to content

Churches Are Only As Successful As Their Pastor


OnceConvinced
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've been to a lot of different churches in my life time and even as a committed Christian, I found they all had one thing in common. They only survived because of the how good the pastor was, not because of how good God was. I challenge anyone to try to convince me that this is not true.

 

If the church has a great pastor and that pastor leaves, people leave in droves. I've seen it happen. Those with the most charismatic, most inspiring, most entertaining pastors grow like wildfire and become huge. However if they pull out of the ministry or leave to go to another town, you can guarantee church numbers will drop off.

 

It is now so obvious to me that we gravitate to a church not because God is in that church, but because the pastor is a good one. And a church will only be as successful as it's pastor. Strange, you'd think that a church would thrive because of Jesus. But that's not the case. I guess that's another reason to believe that God either doesn't exist or has left us to our own devices.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree to a certain extent. However, I wouldn't use the word "Good" to describe a preacher at a prosperous church. Charismatic and manipulative, yes. But "Good"? No.

 

 

I remember a time when we were at a family gathering on a Sunday. My parents were one of the last people to arrive since, of course, they had to go to church beforehand. When they got there, my mother had tears in her eyes. I could tell that she had been crying and was attempting to hold back more tears.

 

When she walked into the garage where everyone else was sitting, my aunt asked her what was wrong. My mom broke out crying saying, :HappyCry: "Our pastor is leaving our church!!!"

 

 

I'm 36 years old, and I've attended several funerals where my mom was there, also. I have yet to see her cry at a single one of them. :mellow:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep....it pays to have a damn fine preacherman to stand in for godalmighty.

 

I've seen some 'believer's' drift towards the most hidious, arseholeness somsofbitches.....as their pastor you could imagine...

 

I guess they like to have some congruency in their lives....a 'father' figure to treat them mean.

 

*chuckles*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My ex mother in law was a classic example of a "pastor" follower. In any church she goes to, she gains an unhealthy obsession with the pastor. It gets to the point where others in the church actually think she has romantic interests.

 

She has a photograph of her current pastor and his wife on the wall of her lounge (and all family photos are in less conspicuous places). She also likes to travel long distance to any place where the pastor happens to be preaching. A little like a groopy. Quite disturbing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't agree to a certain extent. I would say they are not as good as their choir. Choirs bring in people just as good as pastors do. I've seen decent pastors with a great choir that have done well. But on the same note a good pastor will bring in a better choir faster than a decent pastor. Also the usual reason bad pastors have great choirs is because a new pastor took over for one that passed away. So I guess your statement is true once again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an excellent point, and seems to be a uniquely effective strategy to argue against Christianity--unique because it is not part of the typical, atheist contentions (not that those contentions are ineffective, but a fresh approach is always cool). After all, Christianity asserts that the success of a particular church is attributable to God alone, certainly not the pastor who is simply a puppet of God's agenda or a mere conduit of His Spirit. So if one could cogently reduce the success of any given church to human rather then divine factors, then this assertion becomes clearly bogus; and by extention, it casts doubt on the very existence of God. That is to say, insofar as the Bible claims that the church is God's primary "hang-out", God's existence is dubious if God is not responsble for the success of various churches; which has certainly been my personal experience.

 

I graduated from -- arguably -- one of the most strict seminaries on the East Coast and spend over six years as a mega-fundy. Therefore, I've been exposed to 100's of different churches and their respective pastors. Part of my seminary requirements was to preach at a plurality of churches along the East coast -- largely from Maine to S. Carolina. Not only was I required to preach; I was also required to assist a handful of pastors in whatever capacity they deemed necessary for a duration of one/two weeks: this usually invovled evangelical outreaches to the youth and assuming all preaching/teaching duties in order to give the over-worked pastor a much needed break and provide me with much needed experience.

 

In retrospect, out of all the churches I've been exposed to, one key component stands distinct in terms of whether or not these churches were successful (success defined by number of members and amount of monthly converts)--the preaching/teaching competence of the pastor. Whether its churches, cults, get-rich-quick victims, or even whole nations (i.e.Germany), human nature tends to ralley around those that have the gift of gab. And if a pastor has the gift, his church will be one that is considered successful by Christiandom: gives new meaning to the old, atheistic adage that God is man's creation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i can somewhat agree with you on this one. whenever someone tells me about a church, they ussually follow it by how good the pastor is. it makes logicall sense though. people want to go to a church that provides the best. or what they feel is the best for them.

 

but i think there are a varieties of pastors that provides many different ways of preaching the gospel. and there needs to be different ways of preaching. each person will respond to different aspects of the gospell. some people preffer this way, others preffer another way. when you see a large increase in a church population. it is probably just that thier style of preaching appeals to the masses at that time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an excellent point, and seems to be a uniquely effective strategy to argue against Christianity--unique because it is not part of the typical, atheist contentions (not that those contentions are ineffective, but a fresh approach is always cool). After all, Christianity asserts that the success of a particular church is attributable to God alone, certainly not the pastor who is simply a puppet of God's agenda or a mere conduit of His Spirit. So if one could cogently reduce the success of any given church to human rather then divine factors, then this assertion becomes clearly bogus; and by extention, it casts doubt on the very existence of God. That is to say, insofar as the Bible claims that the church is God's primary "hang-out", God's existence is dubious if God is not responsble for the success of various churches; which has certainly been my personal experience.

 

 

I agree that the success of many protestant churches is directly tied to the pastor. I've also read that if a pastor a while, the average age of the congregation will become close to the pastor's age.

 

I don't think that an argument against christianity drawn from these facts will convince fundies, though. It's consistent with their beliefs to say that God raises up His servant in this place or that at a certain time... blah blah.

 

Among "sacerdotal" churches, i.e. where the clergy function as priests offering the sacrifice of the mass (Catholic, Orthodox, high church Anglican), the pastor does affect the parish's success, but less so than among protestants. When there's a fixed liturgy, the personality of the pastor is less a focus than when the pastor makes up the whole service. The Catholic church sometimes shuffles clergy around to avoid the situation where one priest develops too much of a personal following.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ficino,

 

Since when is any one argument sufficient to challenge a fundy's faith? Typically, fundys slowly relinquish their faith after they've been exposed to a whole slew of arguments against Christianity in their own personal study/research. And this fresh perspective seems to make a nice addition to those core arguments albeit in a supplimental fashion.

 

I'm not so sure that this argument, in and of itself, is consistent with a fundy's believe in individual anointing. Even when I was in the hieght of my fanaticism, I remember wondering why certain pastors were successful over others; especially considering the fact that each was equally "sanctified" in terms of their character and committment to the "Lord". I didn't understand why the unsuccessful pastor, who was just as much a bonafide "man of God" and thereby "anointed" as the successful pastor, failed to enjoy the same level of success; it just didn't seem fair in light of the biblical doctrine that God's number one priority was saving souls and strengthening the "body of Christ". In that context, the answer was very evident, although my indoctrinated state of mind resisted acknowledging as such: God wasn't responsible for the success or failure of various churches, man was responsible. After all, the huge, glaring difference between successful and unsuccessful churches was the intellectual, emotional, and charismatic appeal of the respective preacher--PERIOD. The successful churches sported dynamic personalities behind the pulpit and the unsuccessful churches simply did not; which explains why the social hierarchy in seminary was determined by one's oratory talent. Regardless of one's "Christian character" or academic performance, he or she was mainly treated in accordance with their preaching abilities. Those that were good were treated like royalty, and, of course, those that were average/poor were treated like commoners.

 

I said all that to say this: similar to myself at the time, a good deal of perceptive fundys are conscious of the reality that the "anointing", "move of the spirit", and "presence of God" are ultimately reducible to merely human rather than divine influences; one of those primary influences being the magnetism of the particular pastor. In the same way, they are also conscious of the reality that demonic oppression and suppression is reducible to a very natural chemical imbalance, and that the financial stability of a particular church is reducible to the generousity of its attendants, not to supernatural provision. And I'm persuaded that this generalized awareness that the success or failure of comparable churches is rooted in the natural instead of supernatural realm serves as a catalyst to the downward spiral of doubt in many cases, specifically the awareness that the pastor's preaching capabilities act as the cornerstone of a church's success.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even when I was in the hieght of my fanaticism, I remember wondering why certain pastors were successful over others; especially considering the fact that each was equally "sanctified" in terms of their character and committment to the "Lord". I didn't understand why the unsuccessful pastor, who was just as much a bonafide "man of God" and thereby "anointed" as the successful pastor, failed to enjoy the same level of success; it just didn't seem fair in light of the biblical doctrine that God's number one priority was saving souls and strengthening the "body of Christ". In that context, the answer was very evident, although my indoctrinated state of mind resisted acknowledging as such: God wasn't responsible for the success or failure of various churches, man was responsible.

 

hi, Chad, fellow ex-seminarian! I can't really argue against what you say except that I would have replied, in my Calvinist days, that the pastor who was unsuccessful probably did not have a genuine call to the ministry. Or something. I never would have admitted that God was not sovereign!

 

Course actually it's a case of one person being better at a job than another, just as you say.

 

Have you ever read Elmer Gantry? Very illuminating and still much true, I think, about fundy religion as a business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would very much agree that Fundy Chrisitanity is a business. The best Pastor's I've seen put used car salesmen to shame and run their churches like a business. They also encourage their members to put them up on a pedistal, somewhat approachable but yet at arms length, as though they are somewhat removed from the masses.

 

I wonder if these type of pastors are on a head trip from all the adoration and ass kissing they get from their sheep? They do nothing to discourage it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I went to this one church that was having a lot of financial trouble, but the pastor and his wife spent money like it was burning. When the congregation complained about it he said, "You can only go as high as your pastor." Another words there was some spiritual law that no one in the congregation can be as rich or successful as their pastor. WOW :twitch: The guy was eventually found out to be using his church as a base for finding wounded young women to seduce. Yet, he still pastors their today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I've seen churches where the pastors are rolling in dough, driving flash cars and always going for overseas trips. I've always had mixed emotions about this. Sure there is no reason why God shouldn't be blessing them financially for their hard work and sure in many ways it is hard work and you have everyone wanting to establish a relationship with you and bugging you for advice and help, so the job does warrent a decent sized income. But still, it is very easy to be cynical and say they have their great livestyles at the expence of the congregation, and it is hard to argue that is not the case. You can't help but wonder why there isn't more money going into missions and helping the poor than there is going in to huge salaries and fancy church offices and buildings.

 

I agree with Freeday when he points out that there are different styles of preaching suiting different people. But then again, if the Holy Spirit is truly in the pastors, then surely it should have the same effect no matter who is listening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.