Love your church minister

No – not me. Well, you can if you like. But more an invitation to head over to Malcolm Round’s blog and read a post that he wrote a couple of weeks ago which has now been read by thousands of people, being copied and referenced all over the web.

Malcolm has really hit a nerve in writing about how congregations treat their clergy – beginning with this:

Sadly the Christian church is littered with good people who have left the ministry because of the pain, the criticism, and the lack of support they’ve got from congregations. Some Christians assume they can behave in a church setting in a way they’ve never be allowed to in a work setting. Minister abuse is much more common than is talked about.

I know exactly what he is talking about and very many clergy will know it all too well.

Malcolm raises a number of very pertinent questions that I think need a lot of talking about. The most striking questions this piece prompts for me are these:

  • What level of discipline should exist in a voluntary organisation like a congregation, particularly when the congregation has an ethos of inclusion and welcome? After all, churches tend to exist for the purpose of adding more to their numbers. How do they manage anti-social and particular anti-clerical behaviour?
  • In my own denomination, what part does the anti-clericalism that is the unfortunate and entirely unnecessary product of so many of our conversations about affirming lay ministry play in this?
  • Who cares for the pastors of the church and how?

The bad behaviour that Malcolm talks about leaves him saying:

Such treatment sadly has become normative in the ordained church life.  Which is one of the reasons I personally will virtually never support anybody going into full-time ‘ordained’ parish ministry.

When a senior church leader says that then the rest of us ought to be paying attention and carrying on a serious conversation about it. This is important and significant stuff.

So, hop on over to Malcolm’s blog and take a read.