Monday, April 14, 2008


Back in the 1970s a book called Clergy, Ministers & Priests by sociologists Stewart Ranson, Alan Bryman, and Bob Hinings was published in the U.K.

They questioned a sample of Anglican clergy, Methodist ministers and Catholic priests in three C of E dioceses, three Methodist districts, and three R C dioceses. These church leaders spoke about their role-confusion, but generally placed pastoral work well ahead of all other activities, followed by celebrating the sacraments and preaching. Counseling and leadership had a fairly low rating, while there was a marked distaste for administration. Methodist ministers tended to place more emphasis on preaching; the Roman Catholic priests gave primary emphasis to their office as celebrant...

Now what does all that tell you? Is there a correlation between these findings and the drastic statistical decline of the Methodist and Anglican communions in particular?

Let me give you one clue: the pastor's key role is leadership: giving away ministry to the church; training others for ministry. Such an emphasis would, frankly, not be offered by mainline clergy. Another: where priests emphasize the centrality of the sacraments/Eucharist/communion, there is a concomitant de-emphasis on preaching. What does that tell you?

More to come... See here for 1,000 more articles on these themes...

Rowland Croucher