Why do so many young Christian men want to become seminary professors, often with little or no pastoral experience?
As someone who was a pastor for twelve years, before becoming a professor for six, and now deeply grateful to be doing both, I think I can speak with a measure of knowledge and experience.
A day does not pass that I do not hear from a hurting pastor. Serving in that role has to be one of the most challenging vocations today. Sure, there are some bad and immoral pastors. But the vast majority of our pastors serve their congregations in a way that honors God and makes a difference in the community.
But both anecdotally and by objective research, we learn that pastors are trusted less and held in lower esteem each year. A recent Pew Research poll found that the favorable view of clergy had declined to 37 percent of those surveyed.
Why are pastors no longer held in high esteem? What is behind the precipitous drop in favorable ratings almost every year? Allow me to offer eleven possible reasons. As you will see, they are not mutually exclusive.
Kindle deals for Christian readers
This week, Crossway’s put a whole bunch of great books on sale for the Kindle:
- Delighting in the Law of the Lord by Jerram Barrs—$4.99
- What Is the Meaning of Sex? by Denny Burk—$4.99
- One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation by Marcus Peter Johnson—$5.99
- Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian by Bret Lott—$4.99
- Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason Meyer—$5.99
And a few other deals you’ll want to take advantage of:
- The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger—$4.99 (pre-order)
- All of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon—$2.99
- The Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever—$1.82
- Everyday Theology—99¢
- Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Chandler, Patterson and Geiger—$1.82
- Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley—$4.77
- Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton—$2.76
This past week featured two annual remembrances in much of the evangelical world: “Sanctity of Life Sunday” and the Martin Luther King, Jr. public holiday. Some churches, like Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, have long made the two days a period of intense focus on the protection of life and racial reconciliation.
It’s an important juxtaposition orchestrated by divine providence. If Dr. King were known for anything it would be the protection of human life and dignity. We think of him as the great Civil Rights captain marching his troops to justice. But in every step of his march was the firm conviction that all men are made in the image of God and created equal. Had he not held that more foundational belief, along with a deeply biblical conception of love, it would be difficult to imagine so sturdy a fight for equality and inclusion. Those twin commitments have rightly made him an American hero, an icon representing the best of American ideals.
So, it’s worth asking: What would Martin Luther King, Jr. think about abortion?
For those with eyes to see, signs of soft prosperity are everywhere in evangelicalism. Christian radio offers a “positive, encouraging” experience, with innumerable songs beckoning listeners to be overcomers. Christian publishers market books that help Christians look better, feel more confident, and reach their maximum potential. Likewise, Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13 continue to be championed as mantras by Christians who want to make an impact on the world.
But of course, these examples are only symptoms, and the solution is not to demonize Christian retailers. Rather, we all must learn to think more deeply about the content of our faith and to refute the errant teachings of the soft prosperity gospel (Titus 1:9).