Is the Church facing a cost-of-serving crisis? – Premier Christianity

today1 month ago

share close

Premier Christianity uses cookies Read our cookie policy.
By 2024-03-20T11:02:00+00:00
Service is a vital part of the Christian faith. But if preachers are constantly challenging their congregations to ‘do more’ it will lead to burnout, says Andrew Horton 
Source: Wavebreak Media ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
It was Sunday, and I couldn’t bring myself to go to church.
I couldn’t face another challenge from the front.
Weary and bruised from another busy week of life, I’d rather remain in the comfort of my home. Batting away the guilt that followed was preferable to having to face yet another uncomfortable call to serve.
I know being challenged to do good works and to be more like Christ – is part of what church services should be about. And yet, I rarely hear a health warning: that these exhortations may cause burnout or disillusionment with the church and even with faith itself.
When I do hear that health warning, it usually comes packaged in the language of “this may be costly, but with God’s power and might, all things are possible,” etc.
I think the church often relies too heavily on an idealistic view of “God’s power and might”, almost as an easy-access, on-demand, problem-solving, pain-relieving, and stress-reducing remedy.
Most of the people I know limp into church each Sunday
I’ve known God’s sustaining power in many situations. I have felt his calming presence in the most excruciatingly stressful times of life. I’ve known his protection from attacks while working in conflict-ravaged South Sudan and Central African Republic. I’ve known his healing power, bringing me out of severe physical and mental illnesses. I am 100 per cent sure of his power and might. 
But I’ve also experienced, in an equally real way, the costly consequences of responding to challenges from the pulpit. At times I’ve taken on too much – perhaps serving on too many rotas at church, or burning myself out trying to “live the Christian life”. Whenever I’ve been tempted to draw back and give myself a break I’ve wrestled with the nagging guilt that Jesus went through much worse at Calvary. Surely this isn’t a healthy attitude! 
Most of the people I know limp into church each Sunday. They may not present it publicly, but they’re carrying emotional, physical, and spiritual pain. And I think this is even more prevalent since the Covid pandemic and the ongoing impact of the lockdowns that came with it. According to research by mental health charity Mind, around one third of adults and young people said their mental health has got much worse since March 2020.
On top of this, we have the cost-of-living crisis, leaving many people struggling in poverty. For far too many people, life is really hard right now.
So for a church leader to preach challenge after challenge without empathy is a problem. A blasé reassurance that, in God’s strength, all things are possible, won’t cut it either. In fact, in most cases, I would say it’s irresponsible.
Please don’t avoid sharing the real consequences that may come from your challenges. Yes, the church would benefit from more money, but be mindful that people’s cashflow is tighter or even non-existent. Yes, the world would benefit from more people committing to prayer and Bible reading plans, but these same people are also juggling a million and one other responsibilities. Yes, orphans need safe and stable family homes, but parenting is hard, and these decisions need to be thought through carefully and planned for. Just relying on the fallback of knowing “God’s power and might” isn’t practical enough; it may be true, but we mustn’t use it as an excuse for being nonchalant about decisions that have consequences.
Central to being a Christian is to “take up your cross” (Matthew 16:24), to live sacrificially, and to serve God and others with love. But for those in positions of leadership, please check in with those who are over-committing and be alert to their mood when they arrive to serve.
As the author John Hindley says in Serving Without Sinking (The Good Book Company), the attitudes of those who serve can turn sour before they know it. “We can so easily fall into thinking Jesus will love and bless us if we do the right things. Then it is a short step to feeling he owes us. And then it’s not long before we decide he’s let us down.”
Leaders, please read the room and recognise that you’re standing in front of many hurting, baggage-laden, weary souls. Preach of God’s power and might, but also of the consequences and the cost.
Don’t Miss Out!

Secure a 3-month subscription to Premier Christianity for just £5.99!
Delve into our thought-provoking content throughout this reflective season. Begin your enriching journey with us today.
Tell me more!
*offers available in multiple currencies, please enter your location on the subscription page
2024-03-28T09:00:00Z By
Dr Sharon Hastings was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder 14 years ago. This World Bipolar Day, she explains how we can all be more aware of our feelings
2024-04-12T10:17:00Z By
The Church may be in decline in the UK, but the CofE’s latest report shows some signs of regrowth. In Blackburn, Joy Rushton says the growing numbers of children and young people attending church is down to a focus on creativity and innovation
2024-04-10T15:01:00Z By
Amid high profile scandals and the pressures facing the Church, Rev Archie Coates, vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, talks influence, accountability and why it’s important to hang onto hope
2024-04-16T08:40:00Z By
After armed gangs took control of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, last month, violence has led to more than 50,000 people fleeing the city. Lord Leslie Griffiths, who lived in Haiti for many years, makes an impassioned plea for help
2024-04-12T08:34:00Z By
Opening a Moscow youth centre, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has compared himself to Jesus. It’s the latest in a long line of populist leaders using religious rhetoric for political gain, says Tony Wilson
2024-04-11T12:47:00Z By
In a recent conversation with Esther Rantzen, Sir Keir Starmer made it clear that he supported plans to legalise assisted dying in the UK. As a minister and the parent of a child with Autism, Sam Tomlin has serious concerns
Site powered by Webvision Cloud


Written by: Christianity Today

Rate it

Similar posts


Political Homelessness Is a Good Start – ChristianityToday.com

|“I just feel politically homeless these days.”Within the past six hours, just as I was writing this, I heard something along those lines from two very different people: an elected official who’s a conservative Republican and a progressive activist who happens to be Jewish. Whether due to the polarizing figure […]

today20 hours ago 1

Post comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *