Monday, March 28, 2011

Should Pastors Be Single?

There was an interesting piece featured in the New York Times about the challenges of being a single pastor. The article suggested a bias against single pastors:

"Mr. Almlie, 37, has been shocked, he says, at what he calls unfair discrimination, based mainly on irrational fears: that a single pastor cannot counsel a mostly married flock, that he might sow turmoil by flirting with a church member, or that he might be gay. If the job search is hard for single men, it is doubly so for single women who train for the ministry, in part because many evangelical denominations explicitly require a man to lead the congregation."

Al Mohler then weighed in on his blog, saying that a married pastor is should be a preferred choice. In the Times article, Mohler is quoted as saying,

“Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,” he said, justify “the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.”
In his blog, Mohler says:

...the reality is that the very fact that the article has appeared indicates that I am right in warning students that remaining single will be a significant limitation on their future service as a pastor. At the first level, this is simply a fact — a fact attested by the article and the statistics reported by virtually all non-Catholic denominations. Pastor search committees, reflecting the sentiments of the congregations, clearly prefer a married pastor with a wife and children.

A friend of mine, Steve DeWitt who is single and the Pastor of Bethel Church in Crown Point, Indiana, responded with an excellent piece that was featured on the Gospel Coalition Blog. Here's part of what he said:

But we must also recognize that a pastor’s singleness is equally valuable in different ways. Speaking from experience, singleness has its own anvil on which God shapes character and pastoral gravitas. In addition, single pastors have some tremendous gifts to share with their congregations. When I speak of my loneliness, how many hearts leap with hope identifying with my trial? When my voice quivers as I describe life lived with unmet and unfulfilled expectations, what heart can’t hear the echo? A normal red-blooded, sexual, single, Christian man battling all the normal desires yet pursing contentment in Christ is a living sermon that Jesus alone is sufficient. These strengths, combined with the greater energy and time that single pastors can pour into their churches, should lead us to conclude that singleness ought not be viewed as a negative. If Paul was serving on the search committee, I think he’d argue for it as a positive.

To read the entire piece, click here.

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