Finding a job as pastor can be very tough for ministers. (It can make passing Greek look like a piece of cake!) Right now, there is a glut of clergy who are seeking positions in congregations.
An article by Bob Smietana in The Tennessean says this: “A combination of many preachers, too many small churches and a bad economy have led to one of the worst job markets for minister in decades.” The article goes on to point out that there are 600,000 ministers in the US but only 338,000 churches. (Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches)
Things are especially tough in the current economy. Some pastors who might have retired are continuing to work. Perhaps there is a spouse who has a good job which would be lost in a move to another church. Selling a home is more difficult in these days. Some churches are finding that they may not be able to afford some of their staff ministers. So, if someone leaves, that position might go unfilled or become a parttime position. At the same time, small churches in rural areas, often perceived as undesirable choices for many clergy, go lacking for a pastor.
Hudner-Beumler, quoted in the article says the current job market has some spiritual benefits for ministers in that it keeps them focused on their calling to serve others, rather than seeing ministry as a career. “As a minister of the Gospel, if you reach one person well in a day, you can be a huge success,” he said. “It’s a great privilege to care for people’s souls and for their lives in the midst of their trials.”
“Amen,” Clarissa. The Christian Century just published some very related thoughts: http://www.christiancentury.org/article.lasso?id=8469
The market impacts all aspects of church life, theological education, missions, pastoral work, etc.
Sometimes I wonder whether the external forces are more important to the issues of “calling,” “professional theological education” and the way churches seek leadership. There is something to say about “bivocational” ministry. In NYC during the 1980s
I met a Haitian taxi driver who was the pastor of store front church in Brooklyn. It was a joy to be inspired by his dedication to the Kingdom. When I returned to NYC ministering at the UN, he invited me to preach at the church he pastored in Stamford, CT. The congregation had a membership of more than 500! God can do great things with those who “really” are called.