Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Since moving to Florida I have been asked many times whether I am retired or looking for another "church" job. I find myself stammering, at a loss for words. I am not sure, obviously, I do not know. So, I say well, maybe, I am looking but I am not sure for what. If I am retired it is clear I have not totally bought into it. I feel like I need a 12 step program. Hello, my name is Todd and I am retired. I am not there - I cannot say those words. I find myself browsing ministerial placement services. They are worth a laugh if little else. I noticed one entry for a church that identified itself as "loosely affiliated with a Baptist denomination not known for their ecumenical endeavors and wondered how you "loosely" associate with them. And "loose" is not the term I would choose to describe them. Then there are the churches that indicate they are expecting someone who will be their next pastor to work 50 -60 hours a week. Wow, at least that's honest or almost... if they say 60 it means "a truly dedicated man of God will work more". So when does the family time or the personal time happen? Pastors need to pace themselves if they are going to last. Studies show that many young pastors entering ministry today don't stay very long; the average length of ministry is 5 years before moving on to something else. Expecting 60 plus hours a week tends to do that. Here is the job description I would be looking for if I were starting out today. 40 hours a week ( it is not badge of honor to be a busy minister - it is foolish), two days off a week, which can be taken as a weekend every two months, one sick day a month (cumulative), five personal days a year which can be taken on a Sunday if needed, and allowances for health care, car use, books, cell phone and annual study leave. How likely is that to happen? Probably, not very. But, it communicates to the one who will become the pastor that the church values you, and wants a long term relationship. I've known a few pastors who were angry at their churches for the way they were treated and felt stuck with them (some churches feel stuck with their pastors too). The point is it's tough to have a healthy church if the pastor is unhealthy.  I recall the church member in one of my first churches who would take my wife and I out to breakfast every so often and he would ask us, so are you reasonably happy? I like that, pastors need to be reasonably happy and they will stay somewhere a long time. Churches need to have someone who asks them that question from time to time.

I have been reasonably happy in my ministry. That's why it's so hard to leave, to say the "r" word. I am not ready to accept it yet.