6 Things Pastors Forget About the Rest of Us

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What the everyday view from those in the pews might look like, and how to minister to them.

I love my work. I get to build churches. Over the years I’ve become aware of just how different church environments are from any other work environment. 

Lately, it seems churches have become really good at developing high-quality work environments. In fact, some of you are working in your city’s “best places to work.”

For the rest of us, things might be a little bit different.

Here are 6 Things Pastors Forget About the Rest of Us:

1. We’re Fat.

58 million overweight; 40 million obese; 3 million morbidly obese.

Eight out of 10 over-25s overweight.

When we wake up in the morning, we don’t see what God created. We see something less than … and we’re using a scale with a number on it to quantify our real worth.

The obesity cycle looks just like the cycle of sin. See something, take something, hide and repeat.

If we don’t feel good about what we see in the mirror, how likely are we to share with others the One who created what we see in the mirror?

2. We’re In Debt.

More than 40 percent of U.S. families spend more than they earn.

Americans carry, on average, $8,400 in credit card debt.

The solution to this problem isn’t talking less about money … it’s talking more about how freedom feels when you treat your money the way God instructed us. If you teach on this with our best interest in mind, you can’t lose.

3. We Hate Our Jobs.

Employee surveys show that more than 65 percent of workers are not satisfied with their job.

These numbers are consistent over a wide variety of professions, and the studies were performed with massive amounts of people to validate the results. Most people don’t ever get the opportunity to know their work changed eternity for someone.

Richard Chancy Richard Chancy began his career in the financial services industry as an investment manager for Edward Jones & Solomon Smith Barney. In the late 90’s he was invited to join John C. Maxwell at Injoy where he served as Executive Director of Client Development and lead the sales teams for the Catalyst Conference & Chick Fil A Leadercast. During this season Richard discovered his desire to ignite passion in God’s people to reach the world for Christ. As a church building coach and partner in www.24toDouble.org, he’s combining his experience working in a first class leadership organization with what he learned in the world’s largest brokerage firms to be part of what God is doing through His Church. Richard spends his days working with, for, and on the local church helping them create & leverage disruptive environments.

More from Richard Chancy or visit Richard at http://www.24todouble.org

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  • Costa K

    Dear Richard,

    Could you please come up with 6 ways to make your pastor’s life easier? Or 6 ways in which you can obey him? Or 6 ways you will pledge to serve your pastor, the church and the community? Or 6 ways that I can be thankful for my stinking job, taxes that pay for services and so much food it makes me overweight yet millions of children starve?

    I don’t think your pastor is the problem. Your middle class-ism is. Please stop focusing on self and thinking “Woe is me…” and serve and be thankful. Especially for your pastor.

    • debra roland

      costa k, that is cold.

    • Ryan

      Boy, you need an article about 6 ways to escape the mental oppression and slavery of religion. You show the signs of someone who’s been in church waaaay too long.

  • deandeguara

    Great post Richard, I’m sharing this with our team. Very insightful .

  • Sandra Wilson

    Great post. So glad you wrote this. So needed.

  • http://SpiritualMessiahMinistries.org/ Rev. Dr. Red

    Im a pastor. I dont make any where $85,000. As a matter of fact i can guarantee you I make less than you. Very rarely do i recieve donations (nor do I expect as my area is extremely poor). I’m trying to sell Christian products as a way of generating income. I understand financial woes just as well as anyone. I lost a janitorial business I co-owned, I lost my home and all of my belongings. I am still attempting to pick my life up. Part of what led me to ministerialhood was my life experiemces and the fact I lost everything.
    I don’t know about your pastor or the pastor’s of mega-churches, I am very familiar with lifes problems. Please don’t assume because your pastor (or even the majority) is blind to lifes problems and the fact their congregants are going through it that all pastors are blind.
    Instead try discussing it with your pastor and/or (depending on the situation and results of the discussion) find a church with a pastor who isn’t blind. We are out there.

  • Rodfather

    You need to check a little more into all those wonderful “tax breaks” the pastor gets. Yes, they get the mortgage interest deduction, just like everyone else in church. Yes, there’s the housing allowance that is non-taxable income. But you fail to mention that pastors must pay the 13% or more for FICA because the church cannot pay half of that as pastors are considered to be self-employed. I’m a pastor who is grateful for God’s wonderful provisions in my life. But drop the effort to make us all feel guilty.

  • Richard Chancy

    Wow! I wrote this post for my church construction blog and had it picked up by ChurchLeaders.com. The intended audience was originally churches I serve and a few others. My goal was to remind myself and the rest of us “pro” Christians not to forget what the people we serve are facing today. I spend my days, and many nights, in the local church with some amazing people doing work I love and feel called to. Often I forget most of the world isn’t as fortunate as I am. I apologize if anyone felt attacked by my words. It wasn’t intended to be an indictment.

  • Yup, I’m a pastor

    Richard,

    I appreciate your desire to help Pastors connect with their congregations. I’ve certainly met Pastors who either never knew or had forgotten what life is like for the average Christian in the world of work. But, I think you may have made some unwarranted assumptions. I could be misunderstanding, but here are some assumptions I think you made:

    1) Pastors don’t have the same financial pressures as their congregants.
    I don’t have empirical data on this, but I suspect that on average, pastors have debt just like their congregants. In addition, because of (2) below, many pastors face other financial pressures such as old and unreliable transportation, the need to be the personal social service agency of the church (have you ever been asked to bail someone you barely knew out of jail?), and the genuine desire to model a heart of generosity to the congregation. And yes, we pay taxes too. As another poster pointed out, our housing allowance may be tax free, but we make up for it with paying both halves of Social Security on salary and housing allowance.

    2) Pastor’s salaries approximate managerial salaries.
    This may be true in some denominations, but in my fellowship, $60,000 a year total compensation would be considered a VERY high salary. Almost no one I know has church provided medical insurance or retirement. In my case, my total compensation is just under $30,000.

    3) Pastors don’t understand job tension because there is less pressure to perform in the church world.

    I spent 25 years in the military and private business before entering pastoral ministry. The pressure to perform is just as high today as it ever was. Each person in the congregation has his or her own idea of what ‘good’ performance looks like. And they’re radically different. Then try coming up with a new and fresh sermon every week. And as you’re coming up with that sermon, keep in mind that, in the minds of many congregants, the standard is being set by Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Ed Young etc. Of course, the average pastor doesn’t have a research and writing team helping-it’s just the Pastor trying to wedge in sermon prep between the calls asking for a telephone number, visiting an elderly person in the nursing home, and helping Mrs Jones move her furniture (because you see, the sense is that us pastors really don’t have anything else to do) Add to that, the tension that comes with knowing that God is the ultimate boss, and as Scripture points out, those that teach are especially accountable.

    4) Pastor’s marriages are somehow more fulfilling, vibrant and healthy than other peoples. Again, I don’t have objective data, but my sense is that Pastors struggle in their marriages just like everyone else. What i do have is a research report that says 52% of Pastors and Pastor’s wives say that pastoral minsitry is hazardous to family health.

    You really think we don’t know people are dying a slow death? How could we not know it? We’re watching them die week by week by week. And the frustrating thing is we preach, we teach, we counsel, we pick them up only to watch them self-destruct with the next selfish, boneheaded, sinful decision.

    According to the NY Times (Aug 1, 2010) “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen…” That doesn’t sound like people who are living the life of Riley while those they shepherd are living horrible lives. In fact, according to one study, well over 50% of Pastors would leave pastoral minsitry if another opportunity presented itself.

    So, I suggest that you rethink your assumptions. If we’re not speaking to the issues of life our congregants are facing, maybe it’s because we’re worn out, or maybe it’s because we are speaking and you’re not listening.

  • Jonathan King

    Wow… Just read some of the reply’s below…. Richard…. Great stuff…. ! Jesus spoke the language of the people…. He spoke into their everyday lives and was connected! I agree with a lot of what these guys are saying, but I agree that people are deaf to the deep theology and the Greek rendering of etc, when they are struggling to keep it together and not crack!!! they want to hear Isiah 61…. Surely we should as Pastors only echo the words of our master…. and purvey His heart…. Where is the “Good News”? where is the “Binding up of the broken Hearted”… where is the year of the “Lords Favor”….
    I don’t believe that you’re saying that we as pastors don’t have these issues… you’re just saying that we need to speak into them….

  • Hersh or is it Harsh

    Richard,

    After reading some of the posts I still like your article and believe it has some good points! Though some of the other posts may be negative I would say you are hitting on a few good points. We do give opportunity for GOD to speak to us through our Pastors. I have recently asked mine to “break our hearts”… without spending time on his comments, I think you are right. He does have our ear and can use it for God’s glory if he will. The problem I sensed from my Pastor was a concern that, what he speaks will cause people grief/guilt and possibly they may leave.

    I pray that Pastors, in general, will have the guts to speak the truth in love , that we NEED TO HEAR. If I walk out the door of my church because my “feelings” get hurt… then so be it. I really wasn’t there to hear God speak to my heart, but rather to have my ears tickled.

    Personally, I am tired of the Warm Fuzzy Jesus, God loves you Just As You Are (so you don’t need to change) nonsense. I’m NOT saying beat me to death with my short comings and sinful ness… but I am saying TELL ME THE TRUTH… if not, hell I could sit in a bar and hear BS!!! But I wasn’t happy there either so I stumbled into “The Church” because I was tired of the BS/Pride stroking/Nonsense outside. Truth hurts and God heals…. start preaching TRUTH even if it hurts Pastors. What’s the worse that can happen a good old house cleaning!!!!

    Hold on, I’ll go get the 409, Comet, Fantastic, some sponges and a bucket, Windex and a mop…. maybe it’s been a long time coming!

    • Hersh or is it Harsh

      Just in case I wasn’t clear… Richard good story/post!