I never know exactly what to do with these staggering statistics.
In the PC(USA) we have [edited on 4/23] 2208 ministers looking for a position and 645 positions available. That’s 3.4 pastors available for each job.
Of course, we have a glut on one end, and empty pulpits on the other.
About 5,000 (48%) of our churches have less than 100 members and most of them don’t have installed pastors, and many of the Boomer pastors will soon be retiring (though with the economic crisis, maybe not as soon as we thought).
But still… these are some shocking numbers.
What are we going to do? We’re letting many of our gifted leaders go into other professions.
Dig a little deeper into those stats and we might find a solution to some of it:
How many searching pastors would like to start a new church development? 566.
How many new churches is our denomination starting? 7.
Seven new church developments in our whole denomination? Aren’t we closing churches pretty rapidly? What’s happening to that land and that money? Are our middle governing bodies living off of the endowments instead of putting them into new church plants?
It might be time to look at how we do business.
Why not start 550 churches right now? I know the way that we have traditionally done it costs a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to. Plus, we all know that there has been almost no time in our history when vision follows money. Money follows vision. So before we start with the fact that we have no money, let’s start dreaming a little bit.
How about this?
•We could start nesting new congregations in older ones. We’ve been doing this with immigrant congregations for a long time now. What if we began to think of emerging churches, or churches that are reaching out to a different demographic, in the same way? Instead of thinking of them as a community with competing interests, we can welcome them as people who are extending our church community.
•We could start churches in rented spaces. We’re seen it happen all over the place: coffeehouses, living rooms, and art galleries.
•One pastor could intentionally start more than one congregation. This would be important for small, home communities that could not afford to support a pastor.
What are your ideas? We have the most important resource: willing pastors. Can we find a way to let them do what they feel called to do?