Recent conversation with Someone Who Would Know:
SWWK: Pastors are having a really difficult time finding jobs right now.
Me: Really? Why is that?
SWWK: Because, if there’s anything wrong with them, if they’re overweight, if they have a disability, churches just won’t call them.
Then, SWWK told me a couple of stories. I heard about the man who had a disability, and wrestled with whether he should tell the pastor nominating committee. He didn’t think he should have to, he thought it was his own private matter. But he also knew that the church would find out eventually, and he didn’t want them to resent him. So he told them. And they turned him down. No one said officially that the disability had anything to do with it, but those closed-door conversations have a way of seeping out into the hallway….
I know congregations who have a lack of imagination when it comes to younger pastors. If there are no gray hairs to be found, then committees automatically assume that the person has not had enough experience to manage a church.
And, I’m told about the other end of the spectrum as well. If a person’s over 55, then she better find something quick, because her options dwindle significantly as the clock keeps ticking.
When I graduated, I was informed that I would have a difficult time finding a job because I am short. I laughed. But now I wonder… is it really a factor?
We know that it happens. It happens a lot in our workforces. We know that a woman’s weight has a significant affect on her income, especially in male-dominated fields. I once read that a woman has a better chance of a promotion if she loses 20 pounds than if she gets another degree.
We hope that it would be different in the church. We hope that our spiritual communities would be able to look beyond appearance, age, or disability to what God was doing in through a person’s life.
Evidently not. That is becoming more and more apparent as I see who churches call.
“Because you’re in the public eye,” PeaceBang reminds us, “and God knows, you’ve got to look good.”
I’m disheartened by it. Hearing the stories, realizing the utter lack of imagination on the part of so many congregations. Seeing solid pastors turned down for cosmetic reasons. Knowing that we need to look good, but not too young…and not too old.
And then, on the other hand, hearing congregations moan about a leadership crisis in the church. Like there’s no one good available.
It’s all becoming increasingly annoying.
The photo’s entitled “Pastor Miguel” and it was taken by Chris Wigginton.