If you factor in the number of churches on life support, combine that with the number of churches dying outright each year and then throw in the number of ministers who leave the active, vocational Christian ministry each year, as the statistics I have quoted before in this series indicate, there is a ministerial/church crisis in the United States and it cuts across denominational lines.
I will continue to flail around me wildly for some time here but let me be pointed about one thing, in case God calls me home to stop my rantings. Your church is in serious trouble and it is your fault. You, over there, with the mad look on your face, it's your fault. You and you alone.
Who is helping our pastors get their 10,000 hours of practice? You, the one I am pointing out, you think you have done everything you need to do with your pastor when you have dumped a series of anonymous, "confidential" complaints on his/her desk and walked out feeling righteous. Your pastor is not the ecclesiastical complaint department.
In case you are wondering, I am not writing these things just to get your attention with my hyperbole and so make you think. No, I really believe what I am writing and if anything I am understating. You are killing your pastor, your church is dying with him and it is your fault.
"Well, Rick," you answer me, "I hear what you're saying. I hear you, man. It is not that I totally disagree with what you say. I just don't like the way you are doing it."
You actually hate what I say and you are posturing for someone else with some kind of ersatz spirituality.
Your pastor needs 10,000 hours of practice as badly as a concert pianist needs 10,000 hours of laying finger on ivory. He/she needs psychological/emotional/giftedness evaluation and treatment. He/she spends time with the sick, the angry, the dying and the grieving and then needs to preach to three sets of generational metaphors on Sunday morning in a mostly empty old hall that some of you love more than you love God.
He/she needs to be reading interactively in devotional, management, philosophical and historical literature. Do not spend any of his valuable time demanding he read the latest screed from your favorite mega-church minister, since you would throw an absolute fit if he tried to implement any of those things at your local church, anyway. He is not the problem. You are the problem.
Your pastor needs to be working out regularly. Go to any ministers meeting and look around you. The drug of choice in the room is food, comfort food and soda, lots of caffeine and sugar and processed food with tons of fat. Flaccid muscles sag the boy down in his seat and he gets sleepy when he sits. He has hypertension, is on blood pressure medicine and needs sleep help in his forties. Part of his 10,000 hours needs to be training his body for the long haul. He will respect himself more if he is not the fat guy in the room.
He needs to be praying but he probably does not pray. He believes in prayer but he believes in activism more because he is insecure and in need of approval. He needs the security of seeing some progress to justify his existence and his support. He thinks he will get more done if he does stuff rather than pray. He loves God but he does not have much confidence in God and is very sure you will think he is lazy if he takes time to pray rather than burn gasoline. Ergo, you are being led (sort of) by a hypertensive, overweight little fellow who is trying hard to gain the two things he cannot get by threading his woeful way; the blessing of God and the approval of people.
He is dying and you are killing him.
He will fail, fail miserably, and you will put him out and get another one a bit fresher, in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle again. You will repeat this process until your church dies but there will be a lot of dead bodies along the way.
You are, in fact, a murderer.