A pastor friend of mine once had an interesting hobby. He drove racecars. At one point he actually held the title of “Faster Pastor.” It seems the track officials sponsored a race for a couple of years that pitted the town’s pastors against each other. I can’t even imagine. I know I’d never allow some preacher to race my car (no offense against preachers, but I just know them too well).
I’m also amazed at that because many people seem to think pastors can’t do anything but preach. I remember once when one of the laity in from a congregation I was serving came to the parsonage to do some work. He was a fine carpenter and did a great job.
“I wasn’t always a pastor.”
While he was there, he needed a certain tool and was going to run home to get it. I told him he didn’t have to go anywhere because I had one. He was shocked and exclaimed, “I didn’t know pastors had tools!” My retort was quick and simple. I said, “I wasn’t always a pastor.”
The perception of pastors, in general, is rather shallow. Most people think we’re one-dimensional. I suppose there are a few preachers out there who actually are, but not many. In fact, most parsons I have met are multi-talented.
I know pastors who are great musicians and singers. Others are good teachers. I’ve met some who are very accomplished mechanics, opticians, counselors, baseball players, heavy equipment operators, and even funeral directors (several of those, in fact).
“Jesus was a carpenter…”
A lot of preachers are accomplished writers, businessmen and women, farmers, accountants, life coaches, and military leaders. This comes as a surprise to many people. It really shouldn’t be. Jesus was a carpenter for most of his life.
I’m not exactly sure why we’ve come to see clergy types as milquetoast, theological nerds. The fact is, however, that seems to be the general consensus.
It appears as though that stereotype is going to come quickly to an end. It’s inevitable. The church is headed in a direction that will dictate a whole new view of the clergy.
As the number of clerics continues to wane and congregational sizes diminish, the church is soon going to find herself in a situation where bi-vocational preachers will be a necessity. There are a lot of us already.
Frankly, I see this as a good thing in many respects. As this trend continues to grow, the laity will, out of necessity, take on a greater role in ministry. Clergy will find themselves on more of an equal footing with the laity. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the term, clergy, disappears from our daily lexicon.
It’s really too bad that the church had to begin falling apart before we recognized our plight. Still, the Lord often uses difficulties to put us back on the right pathway. After all, the church really began to experience explosive growth when she was under persecution. It looks like he’s letting us off easy this time.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]