Professional Preacher?

I am currently reading through Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo’s book, Adventures in Missing the Point.  In his typical style McLaren criticizes the “modern” approach to leadership in the church under 10 headings.  For one of these he uses the term “careerist.”  While I am far less inclined to criticize the church as freely as McLaren does, I agree that this element of Christian leadership is a problem.

He prefers the idea of being amateurs.  By this he means that our motivation for ministry is not quenched by the pressures of seeing ministry as a career.  Leadership and preaching need to be “less like the drudgery of a job and more like the joy of a day golfing or hiking or fishing or playing soccer or whatever … not something we have to do, but somethinig we get to do.”

On one level he is right.  My privilege of being in full-time ministry should not turn it into a drudging climb up a career ladder.  Perhaps you work in the secular world (also a privilege) and get to preach too (again, a privilege).  He is right, ministry is something that we get to do.  But perhaps where he misses the mark is the sweeping generalization that those of us in ministry see it as drudgery.  I for one consider it a privilege to be freed up through financial support to dedicate my time to ministry.  I know many others that see ministry as a get to privilege.

Furthermore, perhaps he misses the mark slightly by a limiting definition of the term amateur (McLaren is not a stranger to re-defining or carefully defining terms).  The term amateur does include the sense of loving (latin root amare) what we do.  It also can indicate low standards and poor quality.  Equally the term professional can suggest the dispassionate use of skill for money, but at the same time it can imply high standards and good quality.

I am an amateur preacher.  I am a professional preacher.  I don’t want to be amateur.  I don’t want to be professional.  It all depends what is meant by each term.  Let’s not be amateurish, nor professionalized, but passionately good stewards of the privilege of ministry.  Hopefully on that we can all agree!

One thought on “Professional Preacher?

  1. My own thoughts about leadership isn’t so much that it is “careerist” or “professional” but that we’ve used the wrong model by which to judge and energize ministry. We live in a society that uses profit (perhaps that is over simplified) as a measure of success. I think we in the church have followed a business model that is well suited for gaining profits in a business environment but not for developing relationships and doing ministry in the church. I think Bill Hybels or someone in his ministry group (not sure where I read this) wrote about his experience in coming from a business environment to ministry and finding out it was quite different. In fact he couldn’t understand how Hybels could do ministry. I agree with those who criticize our “leadership” industry that focuses too much on the success factor. I think the business and success models takes us away from having faith in God and the power of the Holy Spirit (1Cor.2:1-5).

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