Thursday, May 18, 2006

PC(USA) - News Service - Survey: Protestant pastors, laity differ on spending priorities

PC(USA) - News Service - Survey: Protestant pastors, laity differ on spending priorities:
by Preetom Bhattacharya
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — A survey of Protestant ministers and churchgoers shows significant differences in the ways the groups would spend an unexpected surge in income in their churches.

The top priority for ministers was to improve church facilities. About half as many laypeople agreed, but they would also want to retire church debt and help the needy....

Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, said the differing priorities were a reflection of perspective, with “the typical layperson (having) very little idea of what it takes to run a ministry, and ministers sometimes (losing) sight of what’s important to people in the congregation.”...
It's interesting that there is this wide a gulf between ministers and congregation members. In the Presbyterian Panel surveys, which are generally broken down between members, elders, pastors, and specialized clergy, the big difference is generally between the two minister categories.

But one important lesson is that our perspectives are perhaps a little narrower than they should be. The one that affects me the most is the difference in viewpoint between the Finance and Mission committees.

Is this all bad? I don't think so. This kind of tension between viewpoints is healthy, and leads to responsible stewardship and effective mission (as long as both sides are willing to be flexible).

There are other tensions that are not so healthy -- ones that do not lead to strengthing the Body -- ones that are NOT characterized by Christian love and forbearance on either side. These are issues where nothng less than total victory of one side or the other is acceptible (to the winners, at least). Yet the PC(USA) seems to spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and resources dealing with issues that are not resolvable. (And before you jump to conclusions, there is more than one issue that can be described in this way...)

We are a diverse denomination, but there is far more that unites us than divides us. Let's spend more time on our unity.

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