April 4, 2016—The June 26, 2007 issue of the Christian Century featured “Top ten things pastors long to hear” from Ruth Tucker’s book, Left Behind in a Megachurch (Baker). Here is Tucker’s list:
10. Yes, of course, the country club membership is part of your benefits package.
9. I was so engrossed, I didn’t even notice your sermon went a half hour overtime.
8. Personally, I find witnessing much more enjoyable than golf.
7. To feel at ease with the professionals in town, you’ll need to drive this loaner BMW.
6. Can I be the permanent teacher for the junior high Sunday school class?
5. Just kidding about your job description including janitorial and lawn duties.
4. Do you mind if I bring all the ladies in my garden club to church next Sunday?
3. Pastor, we’d like to send you on this spiritual retreat in the Bahamas.
2. Hey! It’s my turn to sit on the front pew!
1. New furniture? Sure. Just put it on the church account.
While humorous, Tucker’s list may reveal a certain insider’s understanding about the concerns and focus of contemporary clergy who serve in congregations. The list hints at the concerns of the “marketplace” orientation and consumerism culture in which many congregations continue to mire, including:
The plight for many clergy and congregational leaders is that the very system in which they serve creates conditions that are inimical to the stated purpose, mission, and goals of the congregation as Church. Little wonder that the ecclesiastical landscape is in such a state of flux. While I find many attempts at creating a “new kind of church” to be untheological, and some rather loopy, one cannot dismiss the fact that some of this restlessness is an expression of yet another generational search for relevance as the Body of Christ.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.
His books on Christian education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H), and Theories of Learning for Christian Educators and Theological Faculty.