Sunday, March 14, 2010

Do pastors have a clue? Probably not.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am very involved in church; specifically, I am a musician who plays for my church. I've played for 2 different churches now, and found a lot of similarities between the two. The first church is doomed in every way due to the fact that the pastor is insane. But the second church has been very successful and will continue to be successful. They have a lot of differences in how the churches themselves are run. But the similarities all deal with the same subject.

Pastors [usually] have no clue on what it takes to live in the "real world", and they are absolutely clueless on what it takes to keep people from getting angry and from burning out from being a volunteer within the church. Many times, they are extremely incapable. Today, we will discuss their distance from reality when it comes to time.

Normal people work at least 40 hour work weeks. Many people have kids. Time spent at the gym to stay healthy, at the ball field watching the kids, mowing the lawn, and doing all of the other normal things in life can take up another 10-20 hours a week. Then, if you go to church, you will spend 3 hours a week at church, and that is just for your typical Sunday service and Sunday School. If you make it to the Sunday night service and the Wednesday service, then you can add another 3 hours to your list. Add all of that up, you're talking about 70-80 hours of your week. Gone.

How is that different than a pastors life? Well, that 40 hour work week goes right out the window. That 10-20 hours a week you [may] spend at church is part of their 40 hour work week. Often times, their kid plays sports for the church's team, meaning their sports time can happen on the clock as well.

Granted, pastors have busy weeks. Christmas can be stressful. They occasionally go on mission trips. If there are 4 funerals in a week, they could have a lot going on. But you have to admit, a pastors life is easy.

A music pastors life is even easier. They have to decide the music on Sundays! This is even easier on weeks where there is no choir service or you have a small band. At my church, we have a guy who handles the actual conducting of the band, and the music pastor only handles the choir and selecting the music. If a music pastor has no woodwind section and no brass section, then the music pastor only has to worry about rhythm charts, and maybe some piano music.

Beyond that, what is a music pastor's job? They have to play and sing at funerals. They have to deal with the Christmas service (which only pastors at major churches deal with). Their normal week has to only consist of maybe 5-10 hours of real work. They pick the songs, find the music (which they sometimes don't even do), and maybe have to transpose songs into a different key (which they sometimes don't do). If they feel like it, they may even email the songs for the week or upload them to their church's site, so that the musicians can hear them ahead of time (if this actually happens, the songs will only be posted 2-3 days before they have to be practiced).

A music pastor's job is a joke. And that's okay in the sense that I don't care if they don't actually do any work, and can still get money. That's "the American way." But my problem lies in 2 things: music pastor's act like they are extremely overworked and overstressed, and they have no clue on how to manage a group of people.

A music pastor has no clue what it is like to have to meet actual requirements, to deal with budgets that can deal with millions of dollars, to participate in projects that are high stress and deal with people's actual lives and safety. They don't have to deal with budget cuts, worry about firing people, deal with dumb requirements from their management, and have to work within the corporate environment's policies and politics. In summary, they have no clue what stress is.

It is completely infuriating to come in at 7:30pm on a Wednesday, after you worked a 9 hour day, fit your entire evening in between 5 and 7:30pm, have no clue on what you are playing at church this week, haven't eaten yet, and have your music pastor break down because he is so stressed out.

It's even worse when they are ill-prepared. In any other instance, we would fire someone or quit if they behaved this way, but because we are serving God [in the end], we put up with it. If a budget director showed up at a project meeting and had no clue how much money was available for a project, we would hang them out to dry. If you hired a painter, and he came to your house and said that he didn't bring any paintbrushes, you'd tell him to forget it and hire someone else. But we put up with it when it comes to music pastors. It boils down to the fact that we are serving God, and therefore are being polite and unselfish, and the fact that most music pastors are fairly effeminate, and are hyper-sensitive.

It makes it really hard to respect music pastors. Barring a death in the family, it is inexcusable for them to ever be anything but 99.9% perfect at their job. It is incredibly simple, and they have all of the time in the world. I wish they would get it together so that I looked forward to dealing with them.

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