The Fun Factor and Ministry

According to an article in the Associated Baptist Press, college students aspiring to ministry not only have an aversion to the local church, but they also have a preference against pastoral ministry in particular. For this reason, many aspiring ministers opt for positions with less leadership responsibility within the church:

In part, students have observed pastors dealing with conflict and pressure, and they want no part of it, Summers said. In contrast, they see youth ministers in shorts and T-shirts having a good time with teenagers.

“They don’t see any ‘fun factor’ in being a pastor,” he said.

On a practical level, some students also see financial incentives to enter youth ministry rather than the pastorate. They are acquainted with youth ministers who immediately move from college to multi-staff churches where they enjoy financial security greater than pastors who may graduate from seminary and start their ministry in a small congregation, Hancock said.

There is so much that could be written in response to this seriously deficient view of Christian ministry. Perhaps the most obvious thing to say is that no one should be going into the ministry because of a “fun factor” (not even youth ministers!). Perhaps equally as obvious is the fact that the abundance or lack of “financial incentives” should have no bearing on a person’s discernment of a call to ministry. Money or no money, if the Lord has called or gifted a person for ministry, then the only proper response is to fulfill that ministry.

2 Corinthians 2:17 “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

2 Timothy 4:5 “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

(HT: Sam Hodges)

12 Responses to The Fun Factor and Ministry

  1. Bryan C. McWhite August 28, 2007 at 8:21 am #

    All true enough. Thanks for the post.

    Nevertheless, it is disheartening to me that the role of pastor is so often a role filled with so much conflict and pressure. I do not deny that we, as pastors, are called to suffer for the sake of the body, but the longer I am a pastor the more seriously I would warn those aspiring to the pastorate to count the cost before they take the plunge. There are deep joys in this work, but there is also plenty of pain.

  2. JB August 28, 2007 at 8:33 am #

    I have been a Youth Pastor and am now a Senior Pastor in the same church. I had and am having fun in both positions.

    In both positions there are times that are incredibly fun and care free. There are other times that I must act like a big boy, tie my own shoes and eat with utensils.

    I think some of these potential ministers shy away from the pastorate because they are lazy and irresponsible. Not wanting to admit this, they play the ‘fun’ card. To those I would encourage a career in another field.

  3. Matthew August 28, 2007 at 8:38 am #

    It’s the politics that scares me. It shocks me how selfishly and just plain fleshly I have seen people act who seemed to be church leaders. I don’t want to preside at board meetings or spend hours of time in conflict resolution. I want to disciple others, study, teach, preach, counsel. Currently, something like “family life pastor” seems most appealing – leading small groups, planning retreats, teaching ABF, etc.

  4. GUNNY HARTMAN August 28, 2007 at 9:16 am #

    Good thoughts to be thought, but I think Matthew’s comments speak volumes. The politics are a beating and the drain is the tomfoolery that sucks the life out of you when you’d rather be “doing ministry.”

    It’s scary just how petty, selfish, and immature people IN THE CHURCH can be. What I think most seminary students are not aware of is just how much of the beat down in pastoral ministry comes in the form of “friendly fire.”

    The “fun factor” shouldn’t necessarily come into play with regard to vocational calling, but I can certainly see how ministerial options other than the pastorate would be more appealing, especially the more educated one is about the pastorate – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Yet, if that’s your calling, you do it with a zeal for the glory of God alone. If you get fired, you get fired to the glory of God. If you pull your hair out, you take comfort in knowing that our Master endured far more.

    I don’t want to discourage (unnecessarily) those who are interested in the pastorate, but I heartily recommend some sort of internship where you can get close enough to a pastor to see what it really is all about.

    That’s why I’m such an advocate of taking seminary students under my wing as I pastor. I think they benefit immensely in getting a “reality show” in the life of a church.

    It helps them to know what they may be getting themselves into.

  5. Andrew August 28, 2007 at 1:36 pm #

    I was a youth pastor and am now the pastor in the same church. Neither job has been ‘fun.’ It is not ‘fun’ to watch people leave because they disagree with you. It is not ‘fun’ to watch as people go around behind you and try to run you off because you have preached something that maybe suggested to them that they are sinners. But it is what God has called us to do. Financial incentives should not play a factor either. Has God called you to pastor? Than pastor!

  6. Ron August 28, 2007 at 3:29 pm #

    The fun factor IS in the pastorate! I get paid (!!) to pray, study scripture, preach, visit, and counsel people in the most significant times of life. I GET PAID TO DO THAT!

    Conversely I see many people who hate their jobs but because of lifestyle choices they are trapped.

    Didn’t Jesus say as found in Mark 10:29-31 the following…?

    Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

    There is great “fun” in the pastorate… and rewards also!

  7. Mason Beecroft August 28, 2007 at 9:48 pm #

    It is odd that “conflict and pressure” would keep men from the pastoral ministry. I wonder if these men are familiar with the New Testament. Do they realize that the ministry is about following Christ and proclaiming Him? I think “conflict and pressure” were present in His life and ministry. Maybe. And I remember that Paul, Peter, et al also had some experience with “conflict and pressure.” Certainly not fun, but infinitely important…

    It is also odd that people are surprised by politics and sinful shenanigans in the Body of Christ. Isn’t the church made up of sinners? Are we so caught up with our own self-imagined piety that we are surprised by sinful actions of others? Are we really that holy? Remember, sin refers to our very nature, and not just our actions or failures to act. If Paul could refer to the Corinthians as saints, then we should never be shocked by the presence of sin and the desires of the flesh even among those who bear the name of Christ. It should never be tolerated, and we are called to repentance in evert instance, but it should never be a shocker. Why else are we called to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ?
    +Mason

  8. Daniel August 28, 2007 at 10:35 pm #

    Alas! Baptists.

    There was a time when Baptists were completely against fun; and now they’re promoting it!

  9. Carlito August 29, 2007 at 10:41 am #

    Mason – I always enjoy your posts. Keep ’em coming….!

  10. Kris August 31, 2007 at 11:17 am #

    I like Mason’s comments also.

    Denny,
    Do you think that we, Southern Baptist especially, have failed to set up and promote proper leadership to begin with in our local churches?

    IOW have we wrongly depended on “one man shows” instead of Elder boards made up of local men helping to bear the burdens that come with sinful men trying to love one another?

    I am not saying there are not lazy men who do not want to labor in ministry, but maybe we put too much responsibility on “one man shows”

    Kris

  11. Denny Burk September 1, 2007 at 12:44 pm #

    Kris,

    Yes, I do. I think a faithful expression of the Bible’s teaching on church polity is expressed here: “A Display of God’s Glory: Basics of Church Structure Deacons, Elders, Congregationalism & Membership.”
    Take up and read!

    Thanks,
    Denny

  12. Kris September 1, 2007 at 10:54 pm #

    Thanks Denny for link, I will “take up and read!”

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