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May 16 - For some pastors, the past year was too much to bear



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 4 months ago '07        #1
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May 16 - For some pastors, the past year was too much to bear
 

 
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Jeff Weddle, a 46-year-old, wise-cracking, self-deprecating, Bible-loving, self-described “failing pastor” from Wisconsin, was already thinking of leaving the ministry before COVID and the 2020 election.

He was, as he put it, fed up with church life after two decades as a pastor.

Then, what he called “the stupid” — feuds about politics and the pandemic — put him over the edge.

People at church seemed more concerned about the latest social media dustup and online conspiracy theories — one church member called him the antichrist for his views on COVID— than in learning about the Bible.

Sunday mornings had become filled with dread over what could go wrong next.

He eventually decided, “I don’t need this anymore.” Weddle stepped down as pastor, walked out the door and hasn’t looked back.

The last eighteen months or so have been difficult for pastors like Weddle. Already stretched with the day-to-day concerns of running a congregation at a time when organized religion is on the decline, they’ve increasingly found that the divides facing the nation have made their way inside the walls of the church.

Clergy also felt a sense of isolation, cut off from contact with their congregations and unable to do the kind of in-person ministry that drew them to the pastorate. Instead of preaching and visiting the sick, they had to become video producers and online content creators.

Chuck DeGroat, professor of counseling and Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, said pastors have long had to mediate disputes over theology or church practice, like the role of women in the church or the so-called “ worship wars ” of recent decades.

They now face added stresses from the pandemic and polarization, with people willing to leave their churches over mask policies or discussions of race.

“I’m hearing from pastors that they just don’t know what to do,” he said.

A recent survey of Protestant pastors by the research firm Barna Group found that 29% said they had given “real, serious consideration to quitting being in full-time ministry within the last year.”

David Kinnaman, president of Barna, said the past year has been a “crucible” for pastors.

Churches have become fragmented by political and social divides.

They have also become frayed, as “people’s connectedness to local congregations is waning.

“The pandemic was a great revealer of the challenges churches face,” said Kinnaman.

The Rev. Kerri Parker, executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, whose member organizations include about 2,000 churches and a million Christians, has been concerned about the stresses clergy have been under since 2020.

Last summer, the council surveyed clergy and found about a quarter said they were considering retiring or leaving the pastorate due to the stresses of ministry during COVID.

In a recent follow-up survey, said Parker, about a third of respondents said they were considering their options or thinking about leaving.

Parker said that unlike past crises, like floods, tornadoes or other disasters, pastors won’t be able to escape the fallout from COVID-19 once the pandemic is over.

If there’s a flood, she said, a pastor could stay at their church, help them clean up and rebuild and then at some point move to another church that hadn’t been through that disaster.

But COVID affected everyone.

“So where do you go?” she said. “Out of the church.”

For Brandon Cox, serving as a pastor had been a joy until last year.

In 2011, Cox and his wife, Angie, had started a new church in Bentonville, Arkansas, called Grace Hills.

Cox described Grace Hills as a “Celebrate Recovery”-style congregation, inspired by the support group ministry founded at Saddleback Church in Southern California, where Cox had once worked.

“Up until 2020, we had a fantastic time,” Cox, 46, told Religion News Service in a phone interview.

The trifecta of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election and the racial reckoning in response to the death of George Floyd hit like a “wrecking ball.”

Grace Hills shut down in-person worship at the beginning of the pandemic, which prompted people to leave. More left when the church reopened and required masks.

When Cox and a Black pastor preached a Sunday sermon together after Floyd’s death and said that yes, Black lives matter, that caused more turmoil. No matter what Cox did, someone was angry.

“It was sort of relentless,” said Cox, who stepped down as pastor at Grace Hill at the end of April. “My wife and I just found ourselves in the place of exhaustion.”

Cox talked to RNS nine days after his last Sunday as a pastor and said he hasn’t given up on Christianity — he hopes to find a new church to attend in the coming months — but pastoral ministry is no longer for him.

Leaving the ministry has challenges. After 24 years in vocational ministry, Cox felt he didn’t have many career options. For now, he plans to work for a local real estate company.

“I kept telling people, ‘You’d be amazed how many jobs you’re not qualified for,’” said Cox.

Even before COVID, the demands of the job wore on many clergy.

The Rev. Emily Reeves Grammer served as pastor of several United Methodist congregations in the Nashville area for a decade before leaving the pastorate in 2019. Grammer, who has two children, said balancing the demands of ministry and family life proved daunting.

Grammer, who is 36, said she loved being a pastor. But she worried about the long-term sustainability of her calling to be a pastor, given that the United Methodist Church seems headed for a schism.

“I am really concerned about the ability of a lot of United Methodist churches to keep supporting full-time clergy people,” she said.

While thinking about the future, she talked with older pastors who felt it was too late for them to change careers. The advice she got was this: If you are going to leave, do it now. So she resigned from her church and went back to school to become an English teacher.

“What I love most about being a pastor is gathering people together around a text and making meaning together out of that text,” she said. Teaching literature, she said, will allow her to do the same thing.

Charlie Cotherman, pastor of Oil City Vineyard Church in rural Pennsylvania, said that, in his part of the world, pastors who had strong denominational ties and relationships to draw on may have weathered the pandemic better than pastors who were on their own.

Cotherman, who directs the Rural Ministry Project at Grove City College, said most of the pastors he works with have done pretty well during the pandemic. Some had the advantage of being in small communities with low COVID infection rates, so they were able to return to in-person services quickly.

Still, he said, COVID has taken a toll. In some churches, members, especially families, left when services went online and just haven’t come back.

“Some of these small churches in rural areas have a couple of young families,” he said. “For them to lose even one of them has been a really tough thing.”

Before he left the ministry, Weddle began a blog at FailingPastor.com, detailing some of his concerns about the ministry. Weddle said he gave the ministry his best for 21 years. But being a pastor proved an almost impossible task.

“Ultimately, you want people to grow in Christ — to be caring, making sense of the Bible and applying it to their life,” he said. “And, you know, for thousands of years it’s been very difficult to get people to do that. So, the job is inherently frustrating.”

Leaving the ministry has been a relief.

“I’ve been going to church,” he wrote recently. “I don’t have to do anything at a church for the first time in 21 years. I don’t have to worry about who isn’t there, or why, or who will be mad next. I don’t have to have regrets all afternoon and evening about how I messed up my sermon.”
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14 comments
 

 4 months ago '20        #2
Xiox  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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I wish people would smarten up & leave the church
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 4 months ago '11        #3
Anti  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
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There’s a church in from of my apartment I pass by…
it was of course packed like always, I’m sure some people backed out during the pandemic but judging h by all the people I see outside and the cars in the lot it’s still a lot of people.

Pastors just ain’t caking as much and feel like a**holes when questioned about COVID despite making sure you show up on Sunday.
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 4 months ago '20        #4
RockyII 
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 Xiox said
I wish people would smarten up & leave the church
The hypocrisy was finally enough for me...
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 4 months ago '16        #5
Frankie Needles  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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Funny nobody equates the worsening situations in the world with the breakdown and lessening of the Church.

Yeah naw those 2 things have NOTHING in common, it's just a random coincidence that there's a breakdown of order, increasing hostilities among people, all out a*saults on the nuclear family, a forcing of perverted behaviors (see the transagenda) happening at the same time that the Church and Faith as we know it is being pushed out as a central foundation of society

I know I know, the church haters are going to smack away and find away to somehow STILL blame the church and Christianity for the current wave of ills society is seeing because EVERYTHING is the Churches fault
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 4 months ago '11        #6
Tony Franks  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
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set up a godfundme

 4 months ago '04        #7
NoLedge18720 
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My uncle actually stopped this year after doing it for over 20 years. Said he couldn't stand people in his church ignoring the guidelines and at like 5 times he stopped service so basically tell the non-mask wearers to leave because they are going to endanger all of the congregation. Now my uncle is a progressive preacher who even had written books on how premarital s*x is a good thing and that the church is archaic in most views. He was close to retirement but this year sped up the process with all thse idiots thinking religion would protect them from a virus.
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 4 months ago '04        #8
NoLedge18720 
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 Frankie Needles said
Funny nobody equates the worsening situations in the world with the breakdown and lessening of the Church.

Yeah naw those 2 things have NOTHING in common, it's just a random coincidence that there's a breakdown of order, increasing hostilities among people, all out a*saults on the nuclear family, a forcing of perverted behaviors (see the transagenda) happening at the same time that the Church and Faith as we know it is being pushed out as a central foundation of society

I know I know, the church haters are going to smack away and find away to somehow STILL blame the church and Christianity for the current wave of ills society is seeing because EVERYTHING is the Churches fault
You sound like the dude who was mad Disney for being too woke when they removed sh*t from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride

Also the irony of the church being "attacked" when all they've done is attack people since the beginning who didn't think the same way they do. Christianity is one of the biggest oppressors in history


Last edited by NoLedge18720; 05-17-2021 at 07:24 AM..
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 4 months ago '16        #9
Frankie Needles  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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 NoLedge18720 said
You sound like the dude who was mad Disney for being too woke when they removed sh*t from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride

Also the irony of the church being "attacked" when all they've done is attack people since the beginning who didn't think the same way they do. Christianity is one of the biggest oppressors in history
Humanity is one of the biggest oppressors in history, Christianity has nothing to do with it...
But to further my point if Christianity is one of the biggest oppressors in history would you also agree the Christianity is one of the biggest humanitarian forces in history ? or are you saying Good things that the church do don't count it's only the negative?
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 4 months ago '04        #10
NoLedge18720 
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 Frankie Needles said
Humanity is one of the biggest oppressors in history, Christianity has nothing to do with it...
But to further my point if Christianity is one of the biggest oppressors in history would you also agree the Christianity is one of the biggest humanitarian forces in history ? or are you saying Good things that the church do don't count it's only the negative?
What humanitarian things do you speak of? I know plenty of things the church thinks they do for people but not sure what they really do to better their community. They might come together and do things for other church members but when they go out in public it's primarily to push their beliefs on others and convert them. My cousin did the whole mission work and all he did was go to China, act like a college kid eventhough they weren't, convert kids over there and then abandon them once they convert. Meanwhile the kid is now in a country that will disown you for having other beliefs and is now on their own Maybe I'll give you Habitat for Humanity or other programs like that but that's it. Even they are big on the religious side of it though.

 4 months ago '15        #11
Bonaparte 
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 NoLedge18720 said
What humanitarian things do you speak of? I know plenty of things the church thinks they do for people but not sure what they really do to better their community. They might come together and do things for other church members but when they go out in public it's primarily to push their beliefs on others and convert them. My cousin did the whole mission work and all he did was go to China, act like a college kid eventhough they weren't, convert kids over there and then abandon them once they convert. Meanwhile the kid is now in a country that will disown you for having other beliefs and is now on their own Maybe I'll give you Habitat for Humanity or other programs like that but that's it. Even they are big on the religious side of it though.
Check out the homeless shelter in your area or the daily food drives, chances are it's church ran in cooperation of local small businesses. At least the ones in my area, they're the only ones who provide help to the homeless, mentally ill, and drug addicted. Unfortunately resources are limited and they are constantly taken advantage of.
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 4 months ago '16        #12
Frankie Needles  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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 NoLedge18720 said
What humanitarian things do you speak of? I know plenty of things the church thinks they do for people but not sure what they really do to better their community. They might come together and do things for other church members but when they go out in public it's primarily to push their beliefs on others and convert them. My cousin did the whole mission work and all he did was go to China, act like a college kid eventhough they weren't, convert kids over there and then abandon them once they convert. Meanwhile the kid is now in a country that will disown you for having other beliefs and is now on their own Maybe I'll give you Habitat for Humanity or other programs like that but that's it. Even they are big on the religious side of it though.
Let's see humanitarian things the church has done or is doing
*The Underground rail road
*Leading the Civil Rights movement
*Go look at 90% of homeless shelters, soup kitchens, homeless outreach and you'll see a church connected
*60% of HBCUs were founded by or have a direct connection to the Christian Churches

but I guess none of that counts does it ? yeah MLK was a REVEREND, Medgar Evers was a DEACON, Rosa Parks wasn't a deaconess at her church, a church that served as the meeting location that they planned the Montgomery Bus Boycott

But you're right, the Church has never done anything for humanity

 4 months ago '18        #13
Dnyce215  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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He mad because he can’t Pimp from the Pulpit
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 4 months ago '04        #14
NoLedge18720 
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 Frankie Needles said
Let's see humanitarian things the church has done or is doing
*The Underground rail road
*Leading the Civil Rights movement
*Go look at 90% of homeless shelters, soup kitchens, homeless outreach and you'll see a church connected
*60% of HBCUs were founded by or have a direct connection to the Christian Churches

but I guess none of that counts does it ? yeah MLK was a REVEREND, Medgar Evers was a DEACON, Rosa Parks wasn't a deaconess at her church, a church that served as the meeting location that they planned the Montgomery Bus Boycott

But you're right, the Church has never done anything for humanity
I was talking about now. The church has completely changed from those times. Back then it was about faith and community, now it is all about money, mega-churches and political donations. There are some who still treat others with respect no matter who they are and a large majority that now hate anyone unlike them. Scripture has been twisted to fit agendas (anti-gay/abortion) when in reality nothing is in the actual Bible about it. You have large majorities of people who vote one way based off a single issue because their religious leaders told them too. Bunch of sheep who refuse to think for themselves....unlike people in the past like MLK. Religion and its purpose has completely changed in the last 50 years and it has nothing to do with outside people and everything to do with who is leading the religion. That's the problem with most people in Christianity though...you always think you are under attack when others disagree with you.

Those soup kitchens were originally funded by churches, I'll give you that. But the fact that they are actually discourages many from using the resources

I never said all things related to Christianity is bad...my uncle is a preacher but is also open-minded. There are some out there. The problem is the ones you see in the news are the ones who have ruined religion.

 4 months ago '16        #15
Frankie Needles  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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 NoLedge18720 said
I was talking about now. The church has completely changed from those times. Back then it was about faith and community, now it is all about money, mega-churches and political donations. There are some who still treat others with respect no matter who they are and a large majority that now hate anyone unlike them. Scripture has been twisted to fit agendas (anti-gay/abortion) when in reality nothing is in the actual Bible about it. You have large majorities of people who vote one way based off a single issue because their religious leaders told them too. Bunch of sheep who refuse to think for themselves....unlike people in the past like MLK. Religion and its purpose has completely changed in the last 50 years and it has nothing to do with outside people and everything to do with who is leading the religion. That's the problem with most people in Christianity though...you always think you are under attack when others disagree with you.

Those soup kitchens were originally funded by churches, I'll give you that. But the fact that they are actually discourages many from using the resources

I never said all things related to Christianity is bad...my uncle is a preacher but is also open-minded. There are some out there. The problem is the ones you see in the news are the ones who have ruined religion.
You did not say NOW, and you definitely said all things related to Christianity was bad.
The church doesn't have "agendas', MAN has agendas, the Church if flawless and infallible, MAN is flawed and that has nothing to do with Christianity or the church. Again it's funny when people want to make these arguments they don't apply the same logic to other things. You have racist doctors who intentionally underdiagnose black people, but you wouldn't dare call the entire medical community one of the worst things on the face of the earth.

For whatever you have a beef with the Church, probably because you prayed really really hard when you were 8 to get a bike for your birthday and some shirts and socks so now you're mad at the Church and blame it for everything wrong,



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