I spent close to 5 out my 9 years in the Army serving in the rank of Captain. My best friend, Leon Green, would often refer to me as C3 (Captain Chaplain Chad). Although there were times that it was advantageous and even necessary to use the title “Captain” before my name; I am really enjoying just being “Chad” again. Typically in the churches of Christ our minister choose not to use titles such as “Pastor,” or “Reverend.” There are many reasons our ministers, teachers, and evangelists tend not to use titles before their names, but mostly it’s a personal choice. Still, there are many members in the church who want to give their ministers a title. So, here’s my suggestion…
Mike Foster, preaching minister at Ridgewood Bible Church, said that we should stop calling ourselves “Pastor.” In a tweet he wrote: “If I don’t make employees/clients call me ‘Creative Principal Mike’ then why do some expect ‘Pastor’ in front of their name?” He’s not the only one dropping the “Pastor” prefix. Erwin McManus is known as the “Cultural Architect of Mosaic.” I’ve also heard of a few executive pastors who are the ”Chief of Staff.”
Maybe they’re all on to something. After all, “pastor” doesn’t carry the cache it once did. According to one survey the profession of “pastor” (“minister”) is near the bottom of the list of most-respected professions…just above “car salesman.” To make matters worse, pastors don’t seem to think very highly of their profession either. The following stats come from The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.:
* 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
* 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
* 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
* 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
* 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
* 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
* 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
* 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
* 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
* 33% confess having involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church .
* 50% have considered leaving the ministry in the last months.
* 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
* 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
* 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry.
* 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
So, what should we do about this dilemma? Based on a recent commentary I saw by John Hodgman, I’d like to propose a change. Rather than calling our church leaders “pastors,” let’s start calling them “captains.” Think about it…captains are all very respected and liked characters in our culture:
Captain “Sully” Sullenberger
In addition, they are very strong leaders often depended upon in life and death situations. They must set vision, direction, and hold the course in a storm. From time to time they must face the threat of mutiny. And to top it off, captains are qualified to marry people.
So, forget about “cultural architect,” “spiritual leader,” or even “cheif ecclesiastical officer.” The next time you see your preacher , greet him as “O Captain my captain!”