A Jagged Contention: Religious Economics

“Our vocations [as pastors] are bounded on one side by consumer appetites on the other by a marketing mind-set. Pastoral vocation is interpreted from the congregational side as the work of meeting people’s religious needs on demand at the best possible price and from the clerical side as satisfying those same needs quickly and efficiently. These conditions quickly reduce the pastoral vocation to religious economics, pull it into relentless competitiveness, and deliver it into the hands of public relations and marketing experts.”

– Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant. Pg. 3


Question:

Peterson rightly fears that the pastoral ministry is being reduced to a mere religious job which offers goods and services. What can pastors do for congregations to teach them the purposes of the pastoral ministry? What can congregations do for pastors to make sure they don’t reduce their vocation to a mere commodity?

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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3 thoughts on “A Jagged Contention: Religious Economics

  1. From my little experience that I have, it seems that it’s because we as a church have not taught the office of the ministry all that well, not to mention pastors have become something apart from what the office was originally intended as. It’s become a CEO mentality, which then the “employer” – a.k.a. the church council – sees the pastor as an employee rather than what he is: an undershepherd who is under the authority of the Good Shepherd. We need to teach our people again what a pastor is again, and pastors needs to stop doing the other “duties” a congregation wants to force upon him. Be a pastor, treat it as the vocation it was intended to be. The pastor is not Called to be in charge of every day operations but to be a minister who feeds the sheep with God’s Word and Sacraments. We need to teach, dear brothers, as with everything else that seems to have gone to the wayside. The people need to see the office as the one who binds and loosens sins. Forgiveness, life, and salvation is our vocation, let’s stick to that.

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  2. How about we dispense with the mindset that pastors are somehow different from the rest of us? Too many people see church as a supplier and themselves as a consumer. When we set pastors up as above, better than, or special in a way the laity is not, we teach lay folk to be helpless. The “only-a-pastor-can-do-that” mentality eventually results in lay folk that see pastors as doers and themselves as done-to. In educational terms it’s called Learned Helplessness.

    When a congregation begins to see its pastor as someone they call to help them do what is actually their responsibility, a lot of things change. Sadly, many pastors have encouraged a counter-productive mindset with their need to see themselves as an elite group of sorts, who are the only ones who are entitled to or competent to minister.

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