Pastoral Rant: Coddling When We Should Be Challenging

(system) #1

The following was written in a moment of frustration, and this rant is just that—a rant. It isn’t intended to be a blanket statement on the state of the church. It is just one pastor’s inner thoughts.

Right now across America there are countless Christian churches are in the middle of pastoral searches. If those I have been involved with are anything close to the norm, the search committees are looking for a nurturing pastor or one that focuses on family ministries, maybe one who has a counselling background or is an inspirational and engaging preacher. I don't deny those are good things, but what do churches actually need? Do they need another pastor to hover over them, to provide events and activities for them?

As I look at the church staff I’m a part of, every one of us goes about nurturing the people. But rarely do we spend our time helping our people reach out and be a light. What are we doing to equip the members? What are we doing to get them out into the world to make a difference? The majority of our work is taking care of the people in the church. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, but when do we teach people to be the church rather than just go to church?

What is our task as pastors, biblically speaking? According to Ephesians: training and equipping, preparing God's people for works of service, to reach maturity and grow up into Christ (4:11-16).

Let’s be honest, not everyone in the congregation would want to be “trained and equipped” for “works of service.” But shouldn’t this kind of leadership be a characteristic that search committees prioritize? Shouldn’t church leaders challenge, coach, and train members how they can be living witnesses? Will God say to pastors that they have been faithful to what God wanted from them? Huddled behind our beautiful stained glass, what do we have to offer the community?

I’m reluctant to say this, but I'm tired of catering to the church members, providing for them when they should be able to provide for themselves. Doesn't that sound bad? However, I fear we pastors have become over-indulgent parents always giving the kids what they want/demand, even though we know in the long run it is actually doing more harm than the good we desire.

How many people have been brought to church, studied with, led to accept Christ … by members? How many baptisms have resulted from members investing in the lives of others? Are parents having baptismal studies with their kids, are spouses studying with their partner, are friends studying with their friends? If the answer is no, is it because pastors have become the “professionals”? We have certainly allowed ourselves to be viewed as such, and in doing so we have failed to train others who would be perfectly capable of ministry.

As pastors, I fear we have coddled when we should have challenged, provided when we should have pushed, loved-on when we should have let loose. And because of that there are too many bloated congregations of satisfied, comfortable spectators. God's people need to see the power they can possess, they need to know the gifts they have been given, and they need to be unleashed from the pew-mentality in order to grow into the fullness of Christ.

We claim to be the body of Christ. I’m having a hard time seeing that. We are a body if by definition you mean a group of individuals gathering around common values and beliefs. But the Bible defines it differently. It isn't a gathering or a group. It is a functioning organism, with moving, living parts, each assigned a specific task. Every part connected in purpose, every part doing its job, every part led by the Head. Instead we have most every part staring at the back of someone's head watching a few others do the moving.

And the crazy thing is this is generally accepted as how it is supposed to be, or at least as the best we can have for now. Is it really? If so I am saddened by how we claim to be people of the Book and yet we don't believe who it calls us to be.

Shayne Daughenbaugh is the current youth pastor of the College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. Beginning in November, Shayne is resigning from denominational employment. He and his wife will be starting a house church ministry for those who are disengaged with the institutional church.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Interested Friend) #2

Why aren’t Pastors challenging us to action? Not just to witnessing but emphasizing Biblical principles of lifestyles as well? Hearing a nice professionally developed sermon each week may be all that most members want to hear.

Are Pastors reluctant to step out? Why not forego resigning but rather light a fire in the church where you now serve? I think there are a number of members who would welcome a challenge but it takes work. Maybe certain Pastors have become too complaisant and who is going to wake them up?

In The Grip of Truth

(Elaine Nelson) #3

Unless a pastor has personally demonstrated he is proficient in training members to become witnesses, suggesting that this should be done without having shown how and whether it works isn’t offering help or outlining successful programs.

Good luck in your new endeavor, maybe it will be more successful.

(Steve Mga) #4

Shayne and “company”.
There is a great hymn and accompanying hymn tune titled, Seeking the Lost.
Wishing you much success in your new endeavor of finding and bringing
healing to those you find. A Traumatized Mind by Religion caused by the
Religious is the worst of all injuries in life.

(Yoyo7th) #5

Put your hands together for Spectrum for including this article…especially at this time.

Uhh does this rant and theme sound familiar???

I wonder where Shayne got this insight and burden to write what is above.

Is he being critical of the usual sermon approaches?

Doesn’t he realize that it is a lot easier to present band-aid for guilt boo boo sermons and theological therapy nurturing sermons than to train members for outreach and service?

Evidently it is not a front burner concern or SDA hot potato issue compared to denominational infighting over WO, LGBT and evolution.

This rant theme never catches hold in a denomination where the ministerial secretaries and pastors are stuck in the old wine skin homiletics that has cheated other churchgoers of all of the other denominations as well.

I was taught the equipping of the saints homiletics about 45 years ago by one of the most competent (non SDA) preachers in USA.

I am glad Shayne is resigning… (I wonder how long it took) Jesus faced the same thing and got his own project going.
Notice how many former disciples bailed out on Him.
Most churchgoers don’t want to work. They want to be lulled into a strange sense of security and entertained. The world gets the heart of most.

(Yoyo7th) #6

Shayne and any others tuned into this theme…
Last time I saw Mark Finley, I gave him on one page GOSPEL WORKERS p 196-199
This is from p 197

Educating Church Helpers

The minister should not feel that it is his duty to do all the talking and all the laboring and all the praying; he should educate helpers in every church. Let different ones take turns in leading the meetings, and in giving Bible-readings; in so doing they will be calling into use the talents which God has given them, and at the same time be receiving a training as workers.

“In some respects the pastor occupies a position similar to that of the foreman of a gang of laboring men or the captain of a ship’s crew. They are expected to see that the men over whom they are set, do the work assigned to them correctly and promptly, and only in case of emergency are they to execute in detail.

“The owner of a large mill once found his superintendent in a wheel-pit, making some simple repairs, while a half-dozen workmen in that line were standing by, idly looking on. The proprietor, after learning the facts, so as to be sure that no injustice was done, called the foreman to his office and handed him his discharge with full pay. In surprise the foreman asked for an explanation. It was given in these words: ‘I employed you to keep six men at work. I found the six idle, and you doing the work of but one. Your work could have been done just as well by any one of the six. I cannot afford to pay the wages of seven for you to teach the six how to be idle.’

(Frankmer7) #7

While I hear your concern about trying to continue to work from within the present church structure, maybe it is because of the way traditional church operates that has helped lead to this state of affairs, and to such decisions that people like Shayne have made, and continue to make. We have a clergy/laity division that has created a power structure of ministry professionals, and a spectator base that pays the bills. The whole issue of lifetime ordination and the way we practice it is called into question here. Could it be that people such as Shayne are recognizing that the system itself is broken, and unbiblical in the way it functions, and are looking to move to something that simply works in a more healthy, and biblical fashion?

I guess he would have to speak for himself, but the above speaks pretty clearly to my ears.



(Shayne) #8

Please understand this was not a post to say that I don’t like your game and so I’m taking my ball and going home. I see in hindsight how it could be read that way. That was not the intent.

My intent was to share the inner frustrations of trying balance nurture of members and helping to facilitate their growth.

I agree that the current clerical system is at best out of date. However, the pastors that I know are trying their best. In this piece I was sharing my journey to the question is the current best really the best.

My resignation is a response to an invitation to reach out in innovative ways to those who wouldn’t walk thru church doors. Totally separate from this rant. I do believe we need more ways to express being the body of Christ than just the typical church structure. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate or see value in said structure.

If you read this rant and agree, great. If you are challenged by it, even better. May open dialogue and God’s Spirit sharpen each of us into becoming more of what He dreamed us to be.

(Celeste) #9

Shane this is an interesting rant with much to think about. Having been part of administration in a church that the members ran themselves (3 congregations in a district so pastor was overwhelmed & often we did not have a pastor), I have some observations. The particular church I was involved with was very community focused and based all their programs on this. Once someone moved into the church whose main goal was to “protect” the church from the world, which resulted in several years of being torn apart, the church has pretty much disintegrated. Another church, in the rural area I live in, is so different. It seems to be only focused on itself and not the community. It is so strange for me after being so involved in the different way of thinking. I also feel that in this church there is more of a protecting the SDA distinctions than allowing each one be the part of the church they are called to be. I love the idea of the body - with all the different parts that do different things. I feel as church members there are so many different gifts, talents, and then areas we can use them in. An yet, it seems as thought we get caught up in “church” or protecting. I am passionate about social justice - due to experiences in my life. I wish I had a church that understood this and would support me and let me use my talents in this area. I don’t see it as part of the gospel of my local church.

I am thrilled to hear about the new adventure you are embarking on! I wish there was that opportunity here - as I no longer attend a local church. I would be interested in what and how you are going to do this. There are so many that can not stomach what is happening in the church who have left. People don’t always understand that this does not mean we have left our beliefs or walk with God – just the organization and politics of it all. God bless you. This will be in my prayers.

(Yoyo7th) #10

Shayne, (and any who are aware of the better/more productive sermon approaches)

Here is the Ministry Magazine link on exactly what your homiletic approach burden is about from the previous General Conference Ministerial Secretary. James Cress

What originally got my attention in this issue was the article written by James Kilmer

So many churches and pastors are getting cheated due to lack of education and supervision.
So much love for those old wine skins and so much fear for the new ones.

(Shayne) #11

I. F.,

I don’t think pastors are reluctant as much as the system is cumbersome and lends itself to fostering spectators. Couple that with the business of life and you have a problem.

(Yoyo7th) #12

Jesus points out the crucial problem with the Laodicean church and the author of this week’s SS lesson states it 3 times on Sunday’s lesson…
So many pastors are self-deceived that their sermons are good or better.
A few years ago I spoke with a pastor of at least 25 years service in the SDA denomination who told me after he read a book , that I also I have, from a former GC ministerial secretary , on homiletics… that he had realized he had been preaching wrong for 25 years. ,

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #13

I understand the need for balance. However, there’s an underlying layer here of what comes across as devaluing of nurture. Seriously, “coddling”? I don’t know your congregation, but I’ve known several & I know many unaffiliated individuals. There’s a lot of suffering in this broken world. Anyone who doesn’t realize this & recognize the essential need for church to be nurturing hasn’t done very much listening. Follow your calling without dissing pastoral care. This is my rant.

(Shayne) #14


I totally agree with you. In this broken world we all need to be about redemption and repair. I’m not saying to take one in the place of another. My question for ME was, “is this the best (effective, biblical) way?”

(Yoyo7th) #15

A handicap is that pastors are basically inept even on nurturing. Take a church of 50-6000 members, and deliver a sermon on 1 single topic as so often takes place. How many will not be nurtured that week due to their problem /issue /need was not addressed by that single topic. Then the next week another topic is addressed like guarding the doctrine of the IJ. WOW that really helps so many members…

Oh but of course those sermons are bible based…

Uh relevancy???

Let’s see…how many items did Jesus address with His sermon on the mount???

Did He overwhelm or overfeed His audience??

(Yoyo7th) #16

U R right on track. Be careful of the institutional old wine skin lovers and SDA gainsayers warping your vision. March on with Jesus.

One of the biggest problems in SDA …is homiletics

Clue: people will not outreach if they are ashamed , afraid, unprepared, or unconsecrated.

(Yoyo7th) #17

From the article above…
" If those I have been involved with are anything close to the norm, the search committees are looking for a nurturing pastor or one that focuses on family ministries"

Basically this means that members are searching for pastors who can do damage control for depraved churchgoers (Excessive. You really need to tone down your language if you want to remain here, - webEd) and their dysfunctional families who are spending about an hour or two in church and 10- 40 times that long, weekly on the carnal/flesh feeding entertainment media that promotes worldly/sinful lifestyles and notions

(le vieux) #18

I believe you’re absolutely right. But the solution is not to abandon ship, but to articulate the principles that will lead congregations to step up the the plate. We’ve been given much counsel as to the role of the pastor, and it’s not to hover over the church, but to evangelize. Maintenance (in all its meanings) is the task of the local church board and the rest of the members. If the members are not willing to do so, that particular church is nothing more than a feel-good, pious social club.

There is danger in going off on ones own to start a house church (unless forced to do so by dire circumstances). I’ve seen what happens in those situations. It is easy to develop a “holier-than-thou” attitude. One of my close relatives got caught up in group like that. They were very nice sincere people, but when the light dawned and he left them, their parting words were “if you leave this group you’re going to hell.”

This is Laodicea. One cannot expect a majority of members to have the right attitude. Look for the faithful few, and work with them. God can accomplish more with a few committed souls, then with a large congregation which is just warming the pews.

This is also North America, where Laodicea has been “perfected” to its greatest extent. Maybe you should go to the mission field, where lay people do most of the work, and prepare most of the people for baptism. Your outlook might change.

(Marianne Faust) #19

I don’t know…I like this project and I agree very much that we have become too dependent on “experts”. Evangelism today is made almost only by experts and we don’t feel responsible anymore.
But, there is a but.
Pastors who insist that they are only trainers and the church has to do everything…they miss something. Because they are not only trainers. Pastoral care, spiritual guidance, in German we call that “Seelsorge” (care for the soul), that is also his job (not his job alone of course). Both is important: Seelsorge and training.

(Frank Peacham) #20

Pastors are degreed licensed professionals, career diplomats for the Conference. This creates the problem of inaction among the membership.