Dear Clergy Colleagues:
I am looking for your feedback and comments.
I hope you will all take the time to read this great blog entry. The blog sites the results of several new surveys on the attitudes of both clergy and layfolks in various mainline denominations. It was written by Candace Chellew-Hodge and is entitled “Clergy Cowardice.”
The thesis of the blog is this:
The folks in the pews are more progressive and activist than their clergy, a new survey shows. And those clergy who are supportive of social change are often silent.
Another key quote is this:
“Fifty-six percent of the mainline clergy polled said they’d like to become more personally involved with social and political issues. When it comes down to acting on those desires, however, the clergy lose their nerve, especially on more public forms of becoming “personally involved.”
What even more interesting is something that I have observed throughout my tenure at Northaven. The survey puts it this way:
“The unwillingness and timidity of the clergy over social justice issues (be they LGBT, abortion, the environment or social safety nets for the poor) is striking in this survey. What may be most striking, however is that the clergy really do understand the source of the disconnect. More than 47 percent say that many mainline churches are declining in membership “because they have lost the courage to take prophetic stands for social justice.”
I have definitely seen this personally. Time after time, colleagues have told me privately that they WISH they could be more outspoken and active on social issues, but that they feel constrained either by pressures from their particular church or denomination.
So, I have a few questions for my clergy colleagues. I hope you all will be willing to join a conversation about these issues. I have specifically posted this at my blog to allow for folks to leave anonymous comments (obviously not possible on Facebook…)
Scroll down to the bottom of this blog to leave a comment. I am specifically interested in clergy who are willing to be open and honest about these issues here.
Questions for Clergy:
1) Do you feel constrained or pressured to not speak out on social issues of the day?
2) Where does this pressure come from?
3) If you could be more open in your views, what issues would God be calling you to address publicly?
4) Do you agree with the thesis that mainline churches may be losing members because they are too cautious or conservative?
5) If not, then why do they continue to lose members, even as they have been getting more conservative over the past twenty years?
6) How do we reach the “unchurched” (a term I despise and use only because I know you will know its meaning…) without being far more edgy and socially progressive than we are now, given that most of them seem to believe that religious persons are far too conservative and judgmental?
I genuinely look forward to any dialogue and comments you might wish to leave…