Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Let Us Worship the Tall Steeple Pastor

Beau Weston, a sociology professor from Kentucky blogs at Gruntled Center. He calls himself a centrist. He wrote an essay for the PC(USA) entitled: Rebuilding the Presbyterian Establishment. There is a Facebook page about it.

Tomorrow, Tuesday December 9th, at three p.m. Eastern Time, he will be having a podcast conversation about it with moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow.

Everyone is all in a tizzy about the denomination. They assume that we are in "decline" and whatever. Then they assume they know the reasons and have the solution. Weston's solution is that we need more white guys in control. "Tall Steeple Pastors" as he calls them should be the ones who run the larger denomination.

According to Weston, pastors of large, wealthy congregations are the best leaders because of their experience. You don't get to be a pastor of a tall steeple church without doing a lot of sucking up. That is true. Those guys really do know how to suck up.

I thought it would be fun to offer some dos and don'ts for those who want to be a leader in Beau Weston's establishment church.

You need to look the part. You shouldn't be ugly or short. Tall pastors are best for tall steeples. Can you be a woman? Well, probably not. Unless you are incredibly good looking and tall.

It is best to be white and certainly straight. If you are gay, forget it. If you support gays, forget it. Although if the wind is right you might voice support but be careful not to do anything about it.

It is also not wise for you to be outspoken in regards to other issues you care about, especially social justice issues, the environment, war and peace. In fact, it is not wise to have much of an opinion about anything, except how to make money for your church.

Whatever you do, don't talk about the historical Jesus. The guy who was executed by the establishment is not a good role model as you engage in your steeple chase.

Don't encourage the congregation in regards to higher criticism of the Bible or in questioning their inherited tradition. Questioners are meddlesome. You really want believers--especially believers who tithe--and especially tithers who give to your ministry.

It is good to talk about charitable things, such as giving to the Salvation Army at Christmas. But don't talk about underlying issues of justice. Encourage giving to the homeless shelter but don't ask too deeply as to why there are more and more homeless people.

War? I'd stay away from that topic pretty much altogether, except of course to pray for the president and the troops. White wealthy suburban congregations will love you and reward you handsomely.

I think Dr. Weston is right on in regards to how to build an establishment church.

The question is whether or not this is a church Jesus would be caught dead in.