Summary: So you think you want to be a pastor. or So you think you know how to call a pastor.
Where Are All The Pastors?
1 Tim 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (KJV)
In a Dallas/Fort Worth Heritage article, Ron Rose asks, "Where are all the pastors? That is exactly the question I heard in 1977 when I surrendered to preach. In a morning sermon, my pastor had stated that in our fellowship alone there were 121 churches without a pastor. He asked, "Where are the men that will go?" I had been seeking God’s will for my life and this seemed as good as any call to me. There was a need. I enjoyed teaching, witnessing, and loved people, so I said, "Here am I. Send me" make me a preacher.
So, in 1978, I loaded up my family and went off to Bible College. I experienced the same financial hardships and other pressures as many that do the same thing. I had my GI Bill and at times, worked three part-time jobs and still God had to provide miraculously for me at times. Along with a full academic load and a church ministry, I was a husband and father of two. I had initially enrolled in the five-year program, but three years into it switched to the four-year degree.
I owe it to my wife that I did not quit. I had heard in chapel that I was not to worry about making a living while I was here building a life. However, in the finance office, I heard cash on the barrelhead and that we run our business office like the world. It is a little hard to heed the chapel message with a different message being told in the business office.
I had no problem with tuition money except for the way the GI Bill is dispensed. I had discussed this with the business office before I left the military and was assured that this would be no problem. Yet, every year I was threatened with expulsion or not being able to attend classes or take tests whenever that government idiosyncrasy reared its ugly head. My senior year, I pointed to three years of paid bills, but I did not even receive the consideration that a secular loan company would have given me for such a record. Had not my pastor asked me if I had a need, I may well have been expelled. Ah, grace, grace, God’s grace, but none without a dead president’s face.
Many would be pastors drop out because of such financial pressures that also cause family problems. I had one friend who dropped out in the spring semester of his senior year because his wife could no longer take it. Another one, lived in the dorm because his wife would not leave Virginia with the children, I could give you a long list of reasons why we should return to an apprenticeship for pastors, but that is something I will save for its own message. Yes, maybe some of them were not truly called or their wives would have not handled the stress of the ministry, but not all of them. It is easier to counsel and weed out up to a dozen perspective preachers in the local church versus thirty in a class on a campus of hundreds or more students. I am not sure that God desires such stress in a learning period. It is a man thing.
After graduating with honors, I started my search for a full time pastorate. I do not know where Bro. Rose surveyed or gathered his data, but I found five Baptist preachers under every bush. I have candidated or sent resumes to numerous states. No one that I have ever asked has heard of Minooka, Illinois, but when I sent a resume to a church there they received 125 resumes!!! In Arizona and Colorado, they received over 400 resumes with mine. A shortage of perspective pastors does not seem to be valid. I was tickled for the chance to be grilled and I even came in second from time to time.
The problem really seems to be with the leadership of the churches that do the hiring and firing of the preacher. Many of them have no clue on how to call a pastor and many of them do not even use biblical criteria. They have talent shows where five or men come in to speak on succeeding Sundays and then have a popularity contest vote.
Let me explain how that one worked for me in one instance. I was number three of five. In my interrogation, I was asked if I would leave my job, live in the parsonage, do door-to-door evangelism, and what I would do to get the youth into the church. I answered in the affirmative to the first three and with anything that was Scriptural for the last. They seemed pleased with my answers and my preaching.