Where Have All the Preachers Gone?
Previously, I have written about the decline in church membership across America and the closure of scores of churches. Corresponding to this general decline in membership has been the decline in the number of men preaching. “The Christian Chronicle” (an international newspaper for churches of Christ) used to have a few notices each month for churches looking for preachers. Lately, it has been pages of churches looking. It’s a deeper problem than can be addressed in a couple of sentences. Let me just mention a couple of the obvious reasons.
One of the biggest obstacles has been a lack of job security for preachers. This is a real and serious stress for many preachers. Looming over their head is the knowledge that today might be their last day working with a church. The reason could be as trivial as “it’s time for a change,” “you’ve been here long enough,” or “you just upset the wrong person”. The rejection of being fired is extreme. Trying to explain what happened to your kids, who you had hoped would grow up in a church filled with joy and love, can be discouraging. If the man decides that he wants to continue preaching, he will most likely need to move to another city, maybe another state. After once or twice most men have had enough and their wives have certainly had enough.
Another obstacle has been preacher’s pay. 85% of churches have less than 200 members and half have an average attendance of 34. Many young men are asking themselves why go to college to get the needed degrees, graduate with a mound of debt, to work at a job that doesn’t pay well? Preachers often hear in an interview, “what’s the least you’ll take to come here?” Of course, there are two sides to the equation, preachers must live within their means and churches must take responsibility to care for their preacher.
After reading to this point, you might understand why I say so often how proud I am to be your preacher. It’s wonderful to be a part of a church dedicated to ministry. Your support and encouragement here should be an example to the entire brotherhood.