Where Are All the Preachers?

Don’t get me wrong: I like Mark Driscoll. And Andy Stanley. Heck, I’ll say it: I like the creativity and admire the delivery of Ed Young. These guys are amazing communicators and it’s no wonder they have a tremendous following.

But there’s something in me that’s a little uneasy about a church going so multi-site that churches across the country look to a guy who lives thousands of miles away as their preacher of the morning. (I wrote more about the vitual pastor in this article).

The trajectory of the church seems to headed this way, and I’ve got to wonder if we are seeing the rise of the next stage of denominationalism; this time, the denominations won’t be called “Methodist” or “Baptist,” but instead organized under the platform of a main speaker. Now I don’t doubt the sincerity of these guys. I certainly don’t doubt their ability to effectively communicate God’s word. In fact, you could easily argue that they have more or less been pushed into this position by bad preaching. After all, who wants to hear the local guy when you can have Andy Stanley?

But maybe there’s another reason that has forced this issue – sheer lack of numbers. Where are all the preachers? My own demonination is reporting a continuing drop in seminary enrollment and that less and less people are giving their lives to be pastors. I can’t help but wonder why that is. I suppose you could argue that they’re being run off. After all, the job of “pastor” doesn’t have the greatest reputation as far as paychecks or sustaining a good home life. Or maybe it’s sort of circular, that young ‘uns feel intimidated about potentially having to “compete” with the big dogs on the video screens. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t seem like we are turning them out any more.

So where did they all go? Where are all the preachers? I don’t think it’s arrogant for someone to stand up, under the calling of God, and say simply: “God has given me something to say. And I’m going to say it.” It maybe my perception, but it seems like fewer and fewer are doing so.

What do you think?

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  • liturgicsjay says:

    I think there is a lack of apprenticing and mentoring going on. Jesus had the twelve, the three, and the one. We should too in some sense. It is a beautiful thing to see someone pour into the life of another and send them out to work diligently for the kingdom.

  • Jana Kelley says:

    I like Jay’s thoughts to go with this. I’d be interested in knowing if Mark, Andy, or Ed (as if I know them) are mentoring leaders one-on-one in their own congregations. Michael, do you know?

  • Michael K. says:

    I can’t say for sure, though Acts 29 (the prolific church-planting organization) comes out of Mark Driscoll’s ministry at Mars Hill.

  • Ashley says:

    We are all so prone to follow people we like to hear. Driscoll, Stanley and so many others (including you) fall into that category for me. I like to listen to you guys. The easier it is to listen to someone, the more people want to listen. So, why not broadcast them far and wide? I think that’s where we’ve gotten ourselves. The problem is that it leaves us in churches with screens instead of people. What happens if that leader happens to leave? or die? or fall away from the faith?

    Are we following a man or are we following Christ? I fear I am way too prone to follow man…

  • Becky says:

    And maybe it’s that so many young men aren’t willing to start out as an unknown. It’s heady to have the kind of following you’re talking about. And it’s dirt work to shepherd a handful of people. Not much glory in it….and lots of head butting from the sheep.

  • Jason Smith says:

    I think the lack of seminary enrollment (another topic for another day) combined with the traditional view that only the “professionally qualified” (by seminary) have the right to preach add to the lack of opportunities for gifted, God-qualified preachers.

    Just thoughts.

  • Becky says:

    This made for interesting conversation with our youngest son, Zach, and his wife, Shanna, when they came home this weekend. Zach’s take is that discipleship is missing in our youth groups and no one feels qualified to teach the Word anymore. By the end of our discussion, everyone was in agreement with Jay—it’s all about mentoring/discipling.

  • chadjordan says:

    I think many younger “preachers” feel torn between being the man God has called them to be and being the “preacher” the church expects them to be. Many young guys I talk to want to be in ministry but can’t see themselves living like the pastors in the churches they grew up in. In many traditional churches these young preachers don’t fit. They want to lead people differently and do church differently but that sense of change doesn’t fly too well in many churches so they get beat up real quickly and tossed out.

  • Michael K. says:

    That’s a good word, Chad. Some of the best advice I ever heard was from an experienced, 50-year pastoral veteran who simply said, “Find your voice. Use that one, not someone else’s.”

  • Madonna says:

    I saw this and wanted to comment. While having revival last month I told my boyfriend that I think a lot of people are not answering the call of God. There are 3 churches in our immediate area that have no pastors. I don’t believe it is the will of God for any flock to be without a guiding shephard. At one point in my church about 15 years ago there were 4 members studying to ministers. Currently there are none. I don’t think everyone is called to be a minister but I think quite a number are being called and refusing to hear.

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