Pastor Chuck Baldwin
July 10, 2001
Despite a robust economy, most people agree that America is in trouble. All indicators point to the fact that our country is facing moral and spiritual bankruptcy. While myriad institutions greatly contribute to the current calamitous condition, none are more to blame than America's pulpits. Many recent studies reveal that the present generation of preachers is sick and getting sicker.
This was not the case in early America. Most of the schools now identified as "Ivy League" were established for the purpose of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, that includes Harvard.
In Colonial America, pastors were among the most respected members of society, as well as the most trusted. Not only did people expect to learn the Bible from these honorable sages, but also they trusted their pastors to keep them informed as to political and social issues. On virtually every issue impacting social and political life, pastors led the way. It's not that way today.
The Washington Times recently reported that church members are less willing to "encourage their children to follow the call [to preach] or uphold the pastor's work." Neither is the pulpit followed in the culture generally. Opposition to the pastor's work comes from both within and without of the church. All of this isn't lost to those struggling in the ministry, either.
Shiloh Place Ministries quotes sources such as Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, and others as saying:
*1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their church.
*America is experiencing a net loss of 3,000 churches each year.
*50% of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
*70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
*80% of pastors and 84% of pastors' wives are discouraged with the ministry.
*70% of pastors do not have a close friend, or confidant.
*50% are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
*80% of pastors' children must seek professional help for depression by the time they become adults.
*85% said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as deacons, elders, board members, and associate ministers.
*80% of pastors' wives feel left out and unappreciated by the church members.
*80% of pastors' wives wish their husband would choose another profession.
*A majority of pastors' wives say that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
If this is the condition of America's churches, should it be any wonder that our nation in general is in crisis? After all, the nation is but a reflection of its churches. DeTocqueville noted that the source of America's greatness was its churches, not its businesses, schools or political institutions. He was right. As the pulpit goes, so goes the nation.
The truth is, however, we have the kind of pulpits that the people in the pews want and expect. They don't want preachers; they want promoters. Bible exhortation has been replaced with entertainment evangelism. Revival has been replaced with recreation. Sin has been redefined to the point that it is unrecognizable. Our values are shaped by Hollywood, not by Heaven. And any pastor who decides to give sin a first name will find himself in the unemployment office post haste.
If the Apostle Paul himself were making application to the average church today, he would be immediately dismissed from consideration. Today's ministers resemble snake oil salesmen more than Spirit-filled prophets. And that's just what people want. Bible stories such as Daniel in the lion's den and the beheading of John the Baptist are as irrelevant to this current generation of church goers as a virginity belt is to a street walker, and equally desirable.
The answer to America's downhill spiral rests with America's churches. And it's not a money problem, either. (If money were the answer, we would already be living in Paradise.) It's a heart problem. Instead of taking money from taxpayers, churches should be giving to taxpayers something money can't buy: some old fashioned moral and spiritual leadership.
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