Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Conundrum

Eclectic Cleric has me thinking about small churches.

The issue: (In my opinion) Small churches who want to grow and learn how to operate in the most effective manner need an experienced, gifted minister.

The problem: Experienced, gifted ministers need to be paid. The small church doesn't have the money to pay for an experienced, gifted minister, so they wind up:

a) Getting a pt minister who is serving one or two other congregations
b) Get a new minister with little experience
c) Do a program such as extension ministry, which places new ministers, not experienced ones

I don't know what the answer is. It seems a vicious cycle ... you need to grow in order to afford a good minister, but you need a good minister in order to grow.

The main answer I've heard is more than a tad disingenuous -- "if your church wants a minister, then simply sacrifice and make it your top priority." This assumes a level of wealth that not all congregations have. It is the church version of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps and you, too, can be rich!"

Our small churches deserve better than that.

1 comment:

ms. kitty said...

Well, I'm an experienced, partially-gifted minister who started out in an extension congregation, worked with them for four years and then moved on. Admittedly, the reason I left was financial----they couldn't continue to support ministry after the UUA's "welfare payments" ran out. But they did learn a lot from me, even though I was pretty new at ministry.

Now I am in a parttime setting (actually two of them), loving it, and serving them both very well. I guess my point is that parttime ministry can work well, and there are quite a few retired, experienced ministers who might love to keep working parttime with a small congregation.