An Open Letter to Churches

Dear Churches:

If you want this

a pastor’s wife will provide unpaid labor, perhaps leading the choir or teaching Sunday school.

–you’d better start paying more.

If you want and think you have a right to this this–

‘wholesome and polite [ministers’] children’

–I hope you have painful, incurable, hemorrhoids for the rest of your long, long, long lives.



14 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Churches

  1. Any decent man would turn down that job. Not only does it sound like a bunch of judgmental pricks, h ought to know theyre looking to find every little fault they can. I swear, th older I get themore convinced I am that the Xtian church should take a leaf out of Jesus & Paul’s books and have only lay ministers.

  2. It’s an interesting article, about how difficult it is for single ministers to find jobs and the reasons why. But damn, some of the clear expectations of the churches?

    I don’t know whether to laugh with hilarity or with bitterness.

  3. I’ve wondered over the 30+ years following my harrowing escape from the Church of Christ, if the jerks behave as they do because they ALREADY have painful, incurable, hemorrhoids. It might explain an awful lot of cranky behavior.

  4. David: There could be some truth to that!

    Now three thoughts:

    1. I’ve known (and known of) SEVERAL married men who ran off with girls from the youth group or other married women in the congregation. That argument against single pastors is effing stupid.

    2. You know who was a “volunteer at church” instead of working outside the home while raising wholesome children? Mary Winkler. Be careful what you wish for.

    3. If Ms. Mark wants a job that does not result in “years of feeling hurt and betrayed,” she should very likely switch professions.

    Now I’m going to tweet this article to my college friend who is getting married next month and who has been a single minister in TX for the last 15 years. Curious what his take might be.

  5. This article has me both nodding my head in agreement and shaking it in disgust. As a former minster (and recovering former member of the hyper-fundamentalism Church of Christ), I can assure you that yes, it is just that hard to get hired as a single minister. (@txmere, I, too have personally known several youth ministers that have run off with kids. They were all married with “wholesome and polite” children.)

    The backwards justification that God is pro-family and his ministers should therefore be pro-family as well just floors me. You can’t be pro-marriage if you’re single? Or pro-family if you’re not procreating? What if you would like to be married but have not yet met someone? Or what if you are unable (for physical or monetary reasons) to have kids? (I know this may come as a shock, but churches pay their ministers crap.)

    So much fluff. So much posturing. So much garbage.

    The thing is, church is business and a significant part of that business is the marketing of staff to potential and re-occurring customers…err…I mean, “parishioners”. There is a particular look that church leaders think will fit and make the church successful. One does wonder, though, if the church leaders pushing this agenda have ever read any story at all from the Bible. Almost none of the guys and gals God picked appeared at first glance to look the part. Instead, as God told Samuel, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT).

    I’ve been behind the curtain. I’ve seen the little man working the levers. I sat in leadership meetings at all three of the churches I worked for and watched on in shock as leaders articulated the view that the godly/loving/right thing to do might be such-and-such, but people won’t put up with that. “They will leave (read, “stop giving us their money”) and then what are we going to do? Surely God doesn’t want us to run the church into the ground!”

    Surely not. God’s never embarked on a suicide mission. Never embraced strategy that looked like failure. Find me one story in the Bible, just one, in which defeat turned out to be victory!

    Yes. The beautiful gift of sarcasm. You get my point, though. His ways are not our ways. It is appallingly arrogant to claim that he is all-knowing, all-loving, but you know better than him. I’m telling you, there are plenty of church leaders that have a lot to answer for. A lot.

  6. I typed out a long response that I tried to post but appears to have disappeared. Here’s the most important part of what I typed: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT). What looks good to us (ie, the image of a married minister…which is apparently universally appealing for God only knows what reasons) doesn’t really mean much, does it?

  7. I confess that I pulled my usual stunt of commenting on the blog post before RTFA. I do that pretty much all the time. Because I am an ass. (No, it’s partially because I believe I owe my first reaction to the person who brought the issue to my attention and then reserve additional comments for later.)

    So anyway, I went and RTFA afterward and just had to roll my eyes. Of course churches don’t want single ministers. They don’t want single parishoners except as bait for other single parishoners who will then hold an expensive wedding in the church. Church singles groups were before there was Pretty much every church I’ve been in has made it a point to communicate to single members that they are even more Less Than that childless married members. So if your paradigm already includes a caste system that devalues one state of life you are NOT going hire someone you believe to be of lower caste. Anyone in seminary who doesn’t realise this had best put down the commentaries and original Aramaic for awhile and take a look at the environment to which he or she will apply for a job.

    The other thing I don’t recall the article mentioning is that most Evangelical churches also harbour a not-so-subtle anti-Catholic bias. Single church leaders are to them as much a vestige of the Catholic church as praying the Rosary and eating fish on Friday. It’s just not going to happen.

    I guess I truly have a hard time understanding anyone who still prepares for the ministry by attending seminary while knowing full well that they will not be welcome in the pastorate. So says this woman who did NOT go to seminary for that very reason.

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  9. I tried to comment on this post a couple of days ago. Why were my comments not approved? (Just curious…I was agreeing with you and saying similar things to the things others have said…)

  10. Sorry about that Adam. WordPress did decide you were spam. But I’ve fished you out and hopefully it won’t happen again. If it does, just drop me an email (link’s on the right).

  11. Glad you plucked Adam from the outer darkness. I agree with what he said and how well he said it.

    Adam, I congratulate you on your ongoing recovery from the C of C. It’s a life-long process. I’ve been at it for years. Having been a minister, I wonder if the jump was hard/scary for you. It was for me, but life has been sooooo much better out here in the real world.

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