Part One: The Changing Role of the Religious Leader

In summary, the role of clergy is being unbundled.

The person who we call a “reverend” or a “pastor” today is one who actually is wearing many hats (and a special collar) at once.  It is likely that a good amount of her time is as  a property manager, sometimes even the plumber, for the church building.  Also, she is a spiritual caregiver for those who would benefit from some sort of counseling or visitation.  Sometimes, she is in court or providing a statement of support for someone who is in trouble with the law.  Other times, she might be in the streets, marching in the face of social injustice.  These are all things she might be doing on top of the usual Sunday morning duties.

Now, when looking at the bigger picture of society as a whole, things becomes more clear.

This combination of skills and responsibilities that is expected of her is really to keep her local church going.

It is not really a combination for which there is great market demand for which people are willing to pay a lot of money.  In other words, the typical person in America is not living a life where this combination is what they would readily need / want, especially as is embedded in a church context.

However, it might be the case that one specialized skill, without the rest, is in demand within a particular context.

For example, a clergy person today can make herself available solely as the officiant of weddings and turn it into a business.  That clergy person can do fairly well in that singular role and those who would be her customers would not have an expectation of her to do anything else.

Another example is of many clergy persons today who have been trained to be a coach.  Now, as a “coach,” theirs skills are in demand.  As a “pastor,” that becomes different.”  Same person – same skills.  But, different combination and different context currently means different outcomes.

The implications of this are many.  But, in particular, what this points to is the reality that it will be increasingly difficult to provide the kind of salary for the clergy person as we know her today in a typical mainline protestant context that she both deserves and is used to as time goes on.

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