A Pastor on Pastors

Ed Young… son of a mega-church pastor and now a mega-church pastor in his own right.

Here, we get an earful from him on the life of a pastor and the things he feels contributes to pastoral burnout.

Part confession… part self-analysis… part “patting himself on the back” and part “taking himself a little too seriously”… this video blog gives us a look at what Ed Young thinks about his life as a pastor and how he views his role within the church.

On one hand, I admire his honesty… I really do. But on the other I am saddened that he feels he is the “franchise-player” of his church, and that the whole thing rises or falls because of him. No doubt, as you watch this, your pastor most likely has the same exact feelings.

Here’s my question: Can we save them from themselves?

24 thoughts on “A Pastor on Pastors”

  1. …to ring in on the reverends chime, I too believe that the pastoral role, to include “fundraser”, has been horribly distorted. And though I realize that we’ve already discussed that topic in deapth, I have witness a few (and I really mean: a FEW) churches that have oversight/elder-type committees, on which the pastor (lead-) does not sit. I find this to be a “good” model. This group will then also most often oversee or manage the church funds.However, until we find a way to get the church body to be more biblical with their finances, I’m not sure how else a church is to not only support itself, but also facilitate its various ministries, without a central collection point. I would argue that we (most represnted here at SCP) have become so jaded to the ongoing misuse of the pastor-role and budget abuse, that we are unwilling/anable to accept a model that may look similar, but is biblically sound and is put to use for “good”.

  2. I think you have missed the point of my comment. All the things that you have brought up that Jesus “needed money” for were not ministry. Neither Christ or Paul participated in fund raising. This burden of finances comes from the church institution that man has created, therefore man must find ways to support it. By mixing business/fundraising into ministry you compromise the integrity of what ministry can do.It’s like taking up an offering for a group of people who just heard the Gospel and got saved. They will equate salvation with a monotary penence.Ed Young isn’t talking about ministry here, he is talking about business. That is what I see is inherantly flawed in his approach to all the issues he is dicussing.

  3. Hey Steve:First the important stuff: A Belated Happy Birthday.Then – the clip is of someone who is clearly struggeling with the role assigned to him by his church (or taken by himself). Pastors/Priests/Ministers are not the church. We are a part of the life of the church, but cannot allow ourselves to become the essential part ‘without which all else fails’. Based on his unhappy monologue, I would suggest that he resign from all the committees he chairs/sits on and spend some time in prayer and silence. Perhaps he will then find a place of joy and fruitfulness in the life of his church that fits him.PG

  4. I feel for the guy. He is probably correct. He most likely is a franchise-player (if you don’t know – this is a football analogy) and his church probably does rise and fall on his shoulders (to a large degree). He is a part of a system that often creates celebrity out of good intentioned and yet misguided individuals. If he were to leave, no doubt large numbers of people would follow in kind. The other leaders of the church would soon see (at least to some degree) how many people had been coming to church and how many had been coming to cult. As to the answer to your question. I suppose it is complex and I am a bit jaded but… I don’t know the whole answer.

  5. tribalchurch – and that is exactly the problem with a top-down leadership structure…it’s the problem with pastor/teachers hijacking the Western Church. Don’t you think if pastors, teachers, apostles, prophets, evangelists, and others worked together under a much flatter leadership structure (Eph 4:11) that most of those issues would go away?Elders, pastors, etc. should be worried about doing their jobs…not being fundraisers or feeling the presure to pedal some church-ware so people fork over cash on Sunday. That kind of pressure leads leadership in churches to not confront sin or encourage any form of sacrifice or self-denial because if you make your church uncomfortable enough they may not give and you’re on the street…

  6. But he does have the “World’s best Dad” screensaver spinning behind him. He couldn’t have that unless it’s true, right?

  7. these “pastors” lean too much upon their own understandings – have you ever noticed that young mr. young almost ALWAYS has a bed or midlife crisis car on stage while he’s spewing his “views”?

  8. Recovering, I certainly agree. I became a part of Presbyterian church, because of its strong democratic structure. I don’t feel like the church rises and falls on my shoulders. Far from it. But my family does rely on my income. I’d be lying if I said that doesn’t worry me sometimes.David of Tulsa,“Maybe because the kind of ministering he did didn’t require money.”Um…okay. Maybe it’s time for me to check out of this conversation…but here goes. Ministry takes money. Jesus and Paul’s ministry took money. Remember the rich widows who supported them? And it was Jesus who sent out his disciples saying, “the worker deserves his wages.” I know the kind of ministry we do at our small church (250 members) requires money. We feed 200 homeless people ever morning. We have transitional housing for the homeless. We teach art to children in DC housing projects. We’re building a health clinic in Ethiopia to help people with HIV/ AIDS, to do something about the appalling mortality rate for infants, and to reach out to Sudanese refugees. I’m sure our church is a lot different from Ed Young’s, so I can’t speak for him. But what we’re doing takes money. And since I believe that we’re acting as the hands and feet of JC, I don’t mind asking people for it.I appreciate the discussion though. I sometimes forget how much those offering plates piss people off.

  9. The original Hebrew tithe was a part of the Theocracy. We can’t forget that. It was not just a religious tithe but also a part of the governmental system. It went to orphans and widows. It worked much like our taxes do today. What implications does this have on the 10% idea that many people hold to?

  10. I definitely agree with ‘ha kohen’ that many of these pastors (especially in larger churches) bring this money problem on themselves by letting their organization get bloated……it encourages me that churches like ‘tribalchurch’s’ are meeting practical needs like they are…it sounds like you are doing a ton for a small church…more than most of the larger churches in my area. Kudos to you guys.But I think what happens is that we build our empires as pastors and then wonder why God doesn’t bless it and make it flush with cash…maybe because God is interested in giving us what we need…not what we want. When we are competing with other churches in our areas for people, when we feel the need for a big building because we think buildings are what spreads the Gospel, when pastors need salaries able to support their opulent lifestyles, why would God honor that?The flipside that REALLY pisses me off is when churches get popular, build huge buildings, attract most new members from other churches, and say “how can you critize us? Look how God has blessed us.” Sometimes churches grow because they are scratching people’s itching ears…not because they are doing what God would want them to…church (little ‘c’) sucks. I’m glad I have found the fellowship I attend but it is so rare to find one that doesn’t have a CEO or Congregational bent to it. There is a happy medium – but you usually have to go to Christian churches in Eastern countries to find them.

  11. Jesus traveled with 12-70 people and was expected to take care of their needs. We know that he did this through the support of women like Joanna and Susanna and others(Luke 8:1-3). But we don’t know exactly what this means and how it worked. We also know that Paul took up collections (1Cor. 16:1). At times Jesus and the 12 had much money (enough for Judas to steal from the purse and go relatively unnoticed)and yet at other times he also had troubles (the coin in the fishes mouth was needed for taxes). The problem I think is not that money is needed, the problem is when it is not (this guy gives away super bowl tickets as door prizes).Is that something to stress about? He has put himself in this position because of his views on the Church. He is part of a misguided system and it is a symbiotic relationship. Now he feels trapped in it.

  12. Two thoughts/examples from my church:First, we use the offering boxes that reside towards the back of the room (next to the comunion stations). Rob Bell’s church has a similar set up, and they call them joy boxes. The bible is quite clear about giving offerings, so all this talk about money and ministry not mixing doesn’t quite gel with scriptures. I do believe that it is a church leaders (doesn’t have to be just one person) responsibility to remind the family of this command, especially when it’s obviosly not coming in. Now as far as moneys above and beyond the 10%, that is an entirely seperate conversation.Second: Our pastor has been making a habit of sharing our current budget during regular sunday services. At first I felt pretty conflicted about this, but as I read through this conversation, and reflect on what he said, I don’t think it’s so bad. He comes right out and says, “All right folks, it cost $1,500 a week (not sure about those numbers…) to rent this room, and then we need…” and he goes on to break down what the “normal” costs of “operating” this church that they all seem to enjoy attending. Then he lets them know how much they were short, or if we met our monthly target. He also explains who manages the funds (an oversight team) and how they are being fiscally responsible with it.I honestly am less worried about the money issues (and they are very real) in many of our churches, then I am with the lack of spiritual and biblical deapth…but that too is another conversation for another day.

  13. I’m no CEO, and I certainly don’t live in a church-box. I’ve just been the pastor of small churches. Now I’m an associate. But I tell you, the money thing’s hard. When my church is not making budget, it’s my head on the chopping block, and no one else’s. And when you have a family to feed, that’ll keep you up at night.

  14. I’m amazed at how often he dwells on money. In my understanding of ministry, fund-raising doesn’t even show up on the radar.Even when he mentions the need to take time off. You don’t need money to take time off. Just tell your elders or whoever that you aren’t coming in next week, and then just stay home and read or fish or re-introduce yourself to your family. You don’t need money to do that.This must come from an understanding of ministry that sees the pastor as CEO of an institution. If only we could let that understanding die…

  15. By the way Steve – Happy Birthday. You should add the Buy me beer thing that the Naked Pastor has before the big day comes.

  16. Minister: to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities – New American Dictionary.What does that have to do with money? I think mosty pastor’s idea of ministering to people is warped. He talked more about being a good public speaker than being a minister of God.If Jesus was the ultimate minister, why didn’t he have money issues. Maybe because the kind of ministering he did didn’t require money. If he needed anything he relied on his Father, he didn’t take up an offering from his “flock”.

  17. Well, based on what I wrote, Lowend, I don’t think you’re talking to me. But I’ll chime in anyway.As a pastor myself, I would not criticize the need for pastors to be paid in and of itself. If a pastor’s salary becomes outrageous, that’s something else. And I’ve been thinking more and more about the model of pastors in part-time positions…tentmakers, if you will.Aside from that, my main beef with this video is the model of ministry that casts the pastor in the role of fundraiser. Such a model belies a system centered on the internal health of an institution, rather than, for instance, missional outreach to one’s local context. It also belies a system where the pastor is a public relations figurehead…a celebrity face, rather than a servant.Young alludes to the burden of the fishbowl, which I echo. That’s certainly part of the vocation. However, it only adds stress (UNNECESSARY stress) to that environment when both the pastor and the church rely on that fishbowl for the financial welfare of the institution. Both buy into this model at their own peril. So I’m not necessarily critiquing million dollar budgets (although that does beg certain critique)…I’m first critiquing the idea of who is responsible for them.Pastors are charged with the tasks of teaching, preaching, spiritual care, and service. Fundraising is for college presidents, marketing departments, and celebrities.

  18. “Here’s my question: Can we save them from themselves?” – SteveI’m increasingly questioning whether it’s worth it to try…I kind of like the fact that these pastors are holed up in a church-box unable to do further damage to the Gospel by interacting with those who aren’t Christians…then again, they have a lot of influence on congregations that do have interaction with “real people.”Damn…pastors – can’t live with ’em…pass the beer nuts.btw – I know CEOs who would love to have an office that nice…

  19. I’m not trying to swoop in and try and defend him or any other pastor that talks like him, however I would like to call into question all of these negative reactions to ‘money and ministry’.Compare this now to the early church. Do you really think that they didn’t still support their family in some way while serving their church? Just because they didn’t use Powerpoint presentations and hire out slick worship bands, surely they still had to finacially compensate for their time spent in ‘ministry’ (including quality time with family/friends)?Plus, I would argue that the earlier church was far more communal to where there was less if no burden at all on one single ‘pastor’ role.But that was then, now is simply a different time. We live in an outrageously expensive society. There just aren’t enough people who are willing to “share the burden” when it comes to ‘ministry'(I really hate using all this churchy language, but I don’t know how else to express all this…). So until more step up, what should the churches do? Scale back and wither away (I’m not trying to say with this that the glitz and glamour is necessary for a church to survive; I’m talking about the amount of time and effort that is put out by pastors/staff/volunteers)?I would argue that MOST pastors have a huge heart and passion for what they do, and that their efforts are often distorted because they are flying solo with little or not support. We shouldn’t be so quick to judge a budget of millions. If it is being stewarded by biblical standards, than where is the problem? Are there pastors and churches that have misused such funds? Of course, but that doesn’t mean that the next church can’t make use of it in amazing ways!I think it is easy to point out the flaws of todays pastors. But my question is, how can we support them? How can we alleviate the need for their uber-efforts? If we had more people willing to ‘sacrifice’ and ‘lend a hand’, there would be no need for exhausted rambling video casts on a monday morning (where he probably should be resting up from the weekend!). And if that means that the budget needs to include some salaries to allow these individuals to support their families while serving…so what?I for one applaud todays pastors for having the balls to step up and at least try! Do far too many miss the mark? Absolutely! But what can WE do to fix that? Sure, pointing out their flaws is one part, but is that alone really going to change anything?

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