Consumerist America and the Church...

"In a look at pastoral pay, including housing, the National Association of Church Business Administration found the average annual salary to be $91,200. The low side in the survey was $13,700 a year, and the high was $249,600. A pastor's pay plus benefits was directly linked to the size -- both budget and attendance -- of the congregation." --The Washington Post

$249,600 for a pastor? I get that $91k isn't all that much in some parts of the country, but this is becoming ridiculous. I'm not carte blanche against megachurches, per se. After all, I attend one currently. But there is something seriously wrong when churches begin functioning like corporations. It's not a good thing that church success can be linked to a pastor's salary. It is the symptom of a disease... I'm afraid the disease is consumerism, and I don't know the cure. Democracy and a free economy, while empowering people, may be the key to universal Christian complacency.

I believe in a free society, above most other values, but wealth can be a faith-killer. Give me poverty and intellectual freedom over riches and free-trade.
Thanks to Matt Brown for identifying the above church photo - Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio.


David Richards said...

I read your post on embracing the future, and I think the idea behind getting back to the 1st century church is that there is a problem with the 21st century church. Most people recognize that Christianity (especially Western Christianity) is an apple that has fallen far from the tree of Judaism from which it grew. Alright, corny analogy, but my question is this: how can we know that our movement toward the future is being guided by the Holy Spirit? Furthermore, why do so many think that we can re-create what the Holy Spirit Himself established? I see this as a problem both for those trying to re-claim the first century, and for those in the emerging church who seem to naively embrace this idea that conforming Christianity to postmodern thought will make everything work out in the end. Seems artificial to me.

2Pete said...

Dave, thanks for the visit.

I think your concerns are valid, and the Church must constantly face the question: are we Spirit-led?

But your suggestion seems to imply that the Holy Spirit initiated the 1st Century Church and not the 21st Century Church. That the Holy Spirit would not lead us to change and adapt, even though the Body of Christ has never remained static. God Himself has revealed His nature in so many different ways, I can't imagine that the Church was intended to remain unchanged.

To restate my agreement with you: yes, we can easily get off track, make wrong choices, and miss the point. But if we really believe in the Holy Spirit and the power therein, we must trust that on the whole, we will be led in a Godly direction if we are faithful in prayer and faith.

And there is certainly something wrong in the church today. Something must change. So as I said, we've tried - again and again - to restore a 1st Century "Roots of Christianity" church. It doesn't last. And I have a hunch that perhaps it *cannot* last.

I think our only viable option is to begin living as paradigm-shifters, revolutionaries. For centuries, Christians were moving forward scientific discovery and creating the most beautiful, provocative art in the world. We haven't always been boring, contrarian curmudgeons...

Thanks again for your thoughts, Dave. I hope this didn't seem like a direct refutation, but hopefully an elaboration on my previous thoughts.


Matt Brown said...

You didn't say where the statue of Jesus can be found. It's at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. How do I know? My brother's family attends there.

2Pete said...

Thanks Matt. Yikes, hope I didn't offend. I know it was built with pure intentions, I just have a really hard time with what it communicates to the world outside.

Harlequin said...

One of the biggest obstacles to recapturing the spirit of the first century church is the 1600 years of exgetical accretion and Dogma. You head back to Acts and Paul isn't a feature until quite late in the day. Perhaps I'm being overly literate here, but 1st Century church had no Bible a la Clement, no Nicene Creed, no Trinity etc. Rewind to 36 A.D. and you wind up with nothing that a modern Chrisitan would recognise. I'm not saying that necessarily is a bad thing, since everything else is just some man's opinion, but be very careful what you wish for. :)

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