Career Paths

The most coveted job in fundyland is, of course, that of being the Head Honcho, The Big Cheesy Grin, and the Man Who (Practically) Walks On Water: the Senior Pastor. But it is not everyone who can sit upon that throne or preach from behind that Sacred Desk. For many have The Call(TM) but fewer are actually chosen to lead. If you would be one of the congregation of the blessed, here are the paths you must follow.

1. Be The Son of a Preacher Man. The quickest way to ascend to a position of power is by birth. It’s even better if you actually have the same name as your father or grandfather. Neoptism is the divine right of Kings James Onlyists.

2. Marry the Daughter of a Preacher Man. This takes a bit more work and a few more years of preparation but the end result is much the same as being a blood relative. Consider the time of Jacob’s trouble and carefully count the cost.

3. Get into a highly-visible position at your Fundy U . Such positions include: Class President, Traveling Troubadour with a promotional group, or The Loudest Guy On The Street Preaching Team. If you’re trying this route it greatly helps if you’re good looking and dating a pretty potential preacher’s wife. People notice that stuff.

4. Win the Sermon Contest at your Fundy U. Seriously. That’s a thing.

5. Poison all the other preacher boys. Failing that you can at least poison people’s minds against them by accusing them all of being closet Calvinists.

6. Just wait and do the dirty work at somebody else’s church. This is a risky proposition since once you’re seen as a follower and not a leader chances are good that the church people will pass you by for someone else once your current pastor is gone.

7. Start your own brand new church. Steal people from other ministries. Profit.

Becoming a prominent pastor requires a little luck, a whole lot of political maneuvering, and lungs of leather. But almost every famous fundy has followed one of these seven steps to glory.

83 thoughts on “Career Paths”

  1. I’m a little bit concerned about the way the one man’s leg is draped over the other man’s leg. I may have to stop visiting this sight if it is leaning in the wrong direction:)

    1. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t see the insanity of the preaching competition while I was still in fundyschool. (i was not in any of the preaching competitions) It’s foolishness is so obvious now. It was actually a part of the Fine Arts program. What a ridiculous thing. Is it not just mockery of real preaching. It makes preaching insincere. How does one prepare for that sermon. I must say that it does however fall perfectly in line with the fundy way. All performance, no substance. All show. Why not have the “best communion presentation” or the “best believers baptism official contest. I know. Next event, usher races. Get the plates. Go go go!! I know this rant is off subject but #4 really bothers me. Some things just cannot and should not be made into a competition. It’s a mockery of the preparation that should go into a real sermon.

      1. Absolutely. When I was at a Fundy U that always drove me mad. What a travesty of the real seriousness of daring to stand in front of anyone and claim to speak in the name of a Holy God.

  2. There is one additional way to the coveted big chair on the platform: be a missionary. If you baptize a certain number of foreigners that can sometimes translate into a senior pastor position.

    A lot of the guys I went to Fundy U with seem to have followed this route to Mogdom. Many of them started out as missionaries and now they are pastors in the South or Midwest.

    1. Why, that is one of the most cynical things I’ve read recently. So cynical, I think it might be true. Men “called” to the mission field to establish credentials for a future pastorate. Hmmm…

    2. The convenient part about being a missionary is that it was so very far away, no one can ever check up on if you actually converted three thousand souls, or if you really converted maybe like a dozen.

      Or is that too cynical? 😛 I don’t mean to imply that all (or, in fact, any) missionaries would do this, but considering the penchant of a lot of mogs to wildly inflate their soulwinnings, I wouldn’t be surprised if some missionaries do as well.

      1. NOPE. Not too cynical. I’m on a field now, and I know a number of fundies who do this very thing. They’re lying brazenly to the folks back home about what they do. All the local people hate when someone from the States comes to visit, because it means they’ll get called from these fundies they haven’t heard from in months (or even years) to come parade around and get shown off.

        And, of course, if you got to a culture that says “you always say whatever someone wants to hear so they’ll feel happy: that’s politeness” it’s super easy to get people to pray something or parrot a line after you. Then you stamp them in and BAMO! There’s another notch in your belt.

    3. It also give you great fodder to yell at and judge people for not being as passionate as the people you converted across the ocean.

  3. So are those actually Bibles those guys are holding? From the body language of all concerned, it looks more like the guys are running a protection racket than sharing any kind of Good News 😯

    1. The little booklets do look too thin to be New Testaments. And I’ve never seen someone present the plan of salvation with his leg over the other guy’s leg. What’s this picture really? 😈

  4. -Power

    This is what comes to mind when I hear the term “Pastor.” I know I am jaded and cynical in this area but I have only known one, maybe two (the jury is still out on that one) who were not in it for the reasons listed above. For what it’s worth, my $.02 worth, I believe that 90-95% of the men who call themselves “pastor” should not even be in the pulpit. My first response to anyone who claims to be a pastor is to go immediately to shields up, battlestation ready. I used to readily accept and give the “pastor” the benefit of the doubt, but no longer. The “pastor” has the burden of proof, to show me that he is truly a pastor and not an Elmer Gantry poser. I’m not asking for perfection, I am seeking one who is a real person who is not afraid to admit they are human. It makes it so much harder for me to reconcile that these posers have been allowed, by God, to ascend to the pulpit.

    Yeah, I have Pastor issues.

    1. Not bitter, Don, just a bit tart. 😀
      I also am very careful who I trust when they say the word pastor. In fact, I go into any situation with a known Christian at battle-station ready mode, then tone down if I need to. After seeing the game played so obviously for so long, it is hard to see any move as having less than an astounding end-game in mind.
      Remember, being a little tart comes from having learned a few life lessons about Baptist politics. Now sit back and see if you can predict the next move. It’s cheap entertainment. In case you’re wondering, I see a church split within the next 6 months based on posturing by the 2 highest assistant pastors………….keep you all updated if someone brings the popcorn. 😆

    2. My general rule of thumb is if anyone introduces themselves as “pastor so and so” then they probably aren’t a very good pastor. A true pastor is probably going to be too humble to risk receiving the usual accolades that come with people realizing that you are a pastor. Most of the good ones I know of were afraid to become one, and they feel inadequate to continue.

    3. Well, only you know of course whether caution has leaked over to bitterness, but this is certainly an issue. Especially in Fundyland where anyone who claims to be is a “pastor,” or anyone who can get 5 people to follow him or call him pastor.

      I’ve just been doing a theology class with some ladies who were interested in such things. In disussing the church a week or two ago we were at the qualifications for elders and deacons in Timothy and Titus. I tell them it’s their responsibility to know these qualifications, because they and the other members of their group are obligated to only choose and accept leaders who meet them; and to remove those who don’t. I opened with this:

      “We should notice Paul’s use of the word “must” in I Tim 3. Elders and deacons must meet these qualifications, or they sin by claiming these offices, and those who allow them to stay there sin, too. It is worth nothing here that the office of elder is to be highly respected among God’s people. The people are to submit to their elders, reverence them and not bring charges against them without clear proof. No one can expect or demand this kind of treatment from God’s free people unless as a first step he fits those strict qualifications God has set down.”

      1. The thing I wonder is how many people would actually submitt to a pastor and elders even if they meet YOUR standards? So many on here remind me of the church members that pray, “God, you keep the preacher humble and we’ll keep him poor.” I see so many complain if the pastor goes on a vacation, buys a nice home or car, or has nice clothes but, so many time the ones that fuss the most about this often times do the very same thing. So tell me, why would it be acceptable for church member to own nice things, while the pastor should be content with hand-me downs and third rate cars?

        1. Really, this is for Don. The word translated “submit” from Koine Greek is Hupotasso, a military term indicating a unit arranged in military formation and placed under the command of an appropriate officer. Its roots mean, approximately “to arrange under.” As a military term, the implication is that 1) there are strict limits to submission, i.e., the obeying of illegal orders in prohibited, and 2) the one being submitted to is likely in submission to superiors himself. If not, why would you submit? That’s akin to obeying an illegal order, no?
          I’ll grant that human relations, even in the military where things are reasonably well-defined, are not that clear-cut. And hupotasso may have had a non-military meaning, although it appears to be a rare word in Classical Greek.

        2. So what does submit mean in the context of Pastor/Elders to the congregation at large?

          Is it to be regarded as a chain of command type of submission? If so then I “submit” that the fundies have it right and I need to repent and go back. (naaaaaa, don’t see that happening)

          So, what do we do with this command to submit? Are we not to submit to one another? If so, then that totally dismantles the whole chain of command structure. I submit you you, you submit to me, we submit to Darrell, well that’s where the analogy breaks down but you see what I’m getting at. 😉

          What is required in submitting to pastoral authority? What is involved in pastoral authority? Sounds like this needs to be a Forum topic…. see you there. 😀

        3. (For Don again)
          That’s a really good point – I had been more interested in the limitation and legitimacy of authority than in how we can use this understanding of “submit” submit to each other. It seemed to me that it’s way easier to understand the true limits of authority in the Church if it is related to the military chain of command. Now I’ll go and dtry to figure out my login to the forums again. 😳

        4. I am the daughter of a pastor, Chad. I grew up with nothing. My dad went without up-to-date prescriptions for his glasses, underwear and socks without holes, dental care and health care so that he could make sure his meager below-the-poverty level salary was enough to provide everything his children needed. When he got a minivan for his family that was a dark red, a few of the older people complained about the fancy red car the pastor was getting. So I don’t appreciate your baseless assumption of “YOUR” standards here, or your reading all kinds of things into my post that I did not put there.

          In fact, you completely missed the point. I have the utmost reverence for the elder who meets God’s qualifications and has been appointed to his office properly. My whole point is that no one deserves this treatment who doesn’t meet God’s qualifications as they are set down in crystal clear black and white for all the Church to see. That is what is being objected to here. No one said that you or your pastor can’t go on vacation. What is being said is that there would be fewer fools, deceivers and wolves prowling among God’s sheep if every one who sought to lead them was first and foremost vetted strictly according the high standard Paul sets out.

  5. “Evangelist” (you know, the kind that preaches to Christians) Dave Young followed route #4. But winning the PCC preacher contest went to his head to such an extent that he is no longer content to be the mog of just one church, choosing instead to endure affliction and serve as a sort of roving mog across the nation. I can’t remember how many times I was told in hushed and awestruck tones about how when he won the PCC preacher contest the power went out because of a storm but the hand o’gawd was so mighty upon him that he kept preaching anyway!!! Guh-lory!! Nevermind the fact that this proves that the best moggles need nary a note or text to support an entire sermon . . . because to fundies it was preachertainment of the highest order (and, of course, the shapps (as the dean’s toadies were called at PCC) couldn’t see all the necking and petting that went on in the darkness so brotha you better believe that sermon was a good’un!) I mean, you couldn’t take NOTES in the dark so it was hard to be careful little hands what you do. Last I heard Dave is now on PCC board. Yuck. Perhaps next time the power goes out they can illuminate the crowne centre by lighting his well-greased head on fire! (Or would that be too charismatistical for them?)

    1. He also followed #2. He married Bethlie Dennis, my pastor’s daughter. That helped him get into the BJU-circle hyper conservative camps, too. Dennis set him up with the Van Gelderens, and he’s enjoyed that prestige, too. Some say that he’s the most likely candidate to take over for Dennis when he dies. I dread that happening. Young is a snake of a man and a very charismatic manipulator. I knew him well, and he liked me. Then I was outed and had to leave the church. None were as toxic, vile, and hateful as he was.

      1. O.Lordy! Repent! Repent!
        I will put no evil thing before my eyes!
        Great Googly Mooogly! Hootchie Momma on SFL!
        Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Fire!
        Oy Vey! :mrgreen:

  6. My Dad got his ministry by repeatedly performing number 6, then eventually getting number 7. We all got a front row seat to IFB politics for most of our lives. It was actually quite amazing – never a dull moment.It would be interesting to list out the political games the ladies have to play to get what they want out of the ministry.
    Such As:
    1.) Use Daddy’s position as pastor to ensnare a man who will eventually become pastor.
    2.) Find a way to date the son of the pastor.
    3.) Be somewhere visible at Fundy U like the tour group girls so that you get noticed early.
    4.) Help the bus captain out so that he gets noticed as a potential future pastor so that you can then date this potential future pastor.
    5.) Where as much makeup and sexy clothes (by our standards) as possible to attract the eye of the man looking to seal his credibility as a potential pastor with the right kind of girlfriend.
    See, nothing to falling in love with the magical right man in Fundyville (if you can see past the politics long enough to do so).
    So did I miss any women’s political moves? Clearly, I didn’t play the politics well when I was at HAC. :mrgreen:

    1. Also, be sure to play the piano at least passably well and major in something like youth ministries or church music.
      My roommate was hounded by an evangelism major because he was certain she would be the “perfect pastor’s wife” as evidenced by the fact that she was “pretty, plays piano, and is a youth ministries major, so she can help in the ministry.” She couldn’t get rid of him, so she eventually transferred to another college.

      1. Exactly the reasons why I refused to play the piano at church, and did my best (within the extreme clothing rules of my family) to NOT give off the “I’m the perfect future Pastor’s wife” vibe. It didn’t really work. When my family traveled on deputation, lots of pastors would come up and get really creepy telling me what a lovely young godly woman I was (they had never spoken to me or seen me before) and telling me about their son, and then they’d talk to my dad as well. Looking back, I think that meat market attitude gave a lot of fundy men liberties to get really creepy with young women under the guise of looking for someone for their sons. Ick… 🙁

      2. Ah, yes, I forgot about playing the piano. At HAC, we were actually admonished from the pulpit to learn to play the piano so we could get good husbands.

        1. I played the saxophone . . . this probably explains why I’m married to a layman instead of an exalted MOG. 😈

        2. Lets see………we met at a Fundy U, my wife doesn’t play the piano. I must not be a good husband.

          Or maybe TTU in the early 80’s had different criteria?

  7. Good points. However it seems that charges of nepotism get brought up sometimes by people that don’t have a clear understanding of its definition. Nepotism is basically “hiring someone unqualified because they are related to you”, not “hiring someone related to you.”

    1. And then there is the passing up of better qualified candidates all because they do not share the pastor’s last name. That is nepotism.

    2. nepotism
      nep·o·tism[ néppə tìzzəm ]NOUN
      1. favoritism shown to relatives: favoritism shown by somebody in power to relatives and friends, especially in appointing them to good positions

  8. I think we mapped this picture out before. (Or someone did somewhere on the web.) The guy in the long coat has light colored trousers and he’s crossing his own leg. (Though the idea of someone throwing a leg over both of his to keep him from going anywhere is funnier!)

    Interesting how posed this picture is. You just know that guy in the middle is every bit the BoJo that the other two are. (The picture was taken from a Life magazine story on BJU.)

    I know of one pastor (not a senior pastor) who used #3 and the missionary to become an assistant pastor at one of the BJU orbital churches. The senior pastor there now is a #1.

    1. I don’t think I buy that interpretation of the photo. If Middle Guy is crossing his own leg, then where is Bow Tie Guy’s right leg? 😯

    2. I think I agree with that interpretation now that I look at it. You can see a bit of the middle guy’s dark coat on top of this left leg, which is hiding bow tie guy’s right leg. There are still some here who can’t see the white piano though.

        1. you think you’re some kind of Jedi waving your hand around like that? Your powers don’t work on me. There is always a white piano, and only those with enough faith can see it

        2. Do not try to see the piano; that’s impossible. Instead, only try to see the truth; that there is no piano. Then you’ll see that it is not the piano that brings terrible fundy music, it is only yourself.

  9. Another way to ascend the throne, er pulpit, of an existing church: The Covert Takeover™

    1) Find an old church with an old smallish congregation, but a PAID OFF BUILDING (or with substantial assets) that is in need of a new pastor.

    It matters not if they are Fundy like you.

    2) Candidate for the position, being careful not to offend them with Your Plan™ of sweeping changes you will institute if you get the position.

    3) Answer all the questions carefully but without showing your hand…Be polite to the female deacon, not letting on that she now has a target on her back.

    4) Shortly after you assume The Position™, start pushing for changes to their “antiquated” church constitution…changes that will transfer all power to the pastor…you!

    5) As soon as the constitution gets amended and all power is safely in your hands, start instituting the changes you have planned: No more female deacons, dress code, different music, etc.

    Anyone who disagrees with Your Plan™ is preached against and labeled a troublemaker and disloyal.

    6)While you chase out members who have invested their entire lives at this old church, start packing the pews with new people – even if you are bringing in friends from other churches (to help you “start” this Great Work™) to help swing all votes in your favor. Votes are just mere technicalities to be endured (no one would have agreed to the new constitution without them), and must be played correctly.

    7) Once the old guard has been effectively chase out, you are now in The Position™ to convert this Great Work™ into a replica of your Fundy Hero Mannogawd’s church.

    8) Henceforth, the old legacy of this church will be forever swept away, and behold, the new Church Anniversary will be the day you ascended the pulpit. Time starts again on that day, and this anniversary will be celebrated each year with much praise (and costly gifts!) being received.

      1. Yes, very familiar. Some of my fundy relatives tried this and were basically driven out of town because the people were so “rebellious.” My step-grandfather has a tiny church he has pastored and dedicated his life to. He has put many things into the by-laws to prevent someone from being able to get away with this in his congregation.

        1. MKXcomm, I know you probably didn’t mean it this way…

          but this is the problem I have with “Pastors” and the whole “One man rule” template:
          to prevent someone from being able to get away with this in his congregation

          It is that ownership clause that I find most distressing. It should be the Lord’s congregation but the cult of personality is strong with the one man show.

        2. @Don, I don’t take offense to it. My step-grandpa is the pastor of a Bible church. There’s not really much to it. It has had in between 20-40 members total my whole life. I think he does take ownership because he is elderly and has begged his organization to send a preacher to replace him, he has asked fundy men from other churches to come but none will come because the church can’t support a pastor. That’s why the situation is a bit different. It has been a labor of love for him. He visits the members, mows the lawn, takes care of the building mostly on his own dime, for a tiny congregation. It’s true, it’s God’s church, but I could see how, after so many years of trying to keep the doors open, that he would feel a sense of ownership. Plus the words “his congregation” are mine, not his. I’m sure he wouldn’t put it that way.I’ve seen the clauses (which actually keeps the power divided among the charter members, not just in the hands of the pastor) in their church by-laws keep a lot of predatory whack-jobs looking for a pulpit and some sheep to feed on,disinterested once they find out they can’t come in and do whatever they want. I agree, the ownership clause is very distressing.

    1. My church is doing this!! Probably because the mother ship property now has a “for sale” sign out front because paying for disney world vacations was more important than the mortgage and teachers….

    2. My (happily former) church is doing this!! Probably because the mother ship property now has a “for sale” sign out front because paying for disney world vacations was more important than the mortgage and teachers….

  10. Ugh. This post is sadly right on. This made me think of all the poor schmuck assistant pastors of the fundy churches I attended who couldn’t crawl any further up the mog’s bum, but it was all in vain since most everyone knew the mog’s son was going to inherit the throne/pulpit.

  11. I’ve seen a lot of this kind of self-inflation. Years ago at BJU I was looked down on by many people because I was not a preacher boy.

    I never could see how people could exist with that big an ego. Perhaps their thick skins and insensitivity was what kept them from being punctured.

  12. Number 7 is what I will never understand, at least when it comes to many churches started in the USA. I support church planting 100% in any place where it is needed (inside or outside the US), but what’s the point of building another church in a town that already has 50 of them just as easily accessible (half of them even falling in the same theological camp)?

    They end up opening new churches just because they want to be in charge, not because they actually want to serve God or further his kingdom. This is the last kind of the person who should actually be the pastor of a church.

    1. Amen, preach it sister!

      And, to be fair, it’s not just the fundies who do this. Buffet Christianity is endemic–we like the preaching here, but they don’t have a big enough children’s program. That one has a nice children’s program, but we don’t like the music. That one has a great music, but the preaching stinks. That one has good preaching, but the people aren’t friendly enough. Those people are really friendly, but they dress funny…it just goes on and on and some people seem to think they’re going to find a perfect church somewhere on Earth.

      1. I agree, any number of denominations have this same problem. And if someone has a legitimate problem with the church they attend, for some reason “why don’t I put forth the effort to try to change it” tends to be the last thought some people have.

        And don’t get me started on children’s ministries. After working in CM’s for several years, I’ve noticed that lots of people have complaints about how big or how well organized it is (or isn’t), and they always want them available to drop their children off at (or the ones without kids want the kids somewhere were they won’t be a distraction). But don’t ask them to actually help out or organize it themselves. Noooooooooooo, it’s always someone else’s job, but it BETTER get done.

        Sorry for the rant. As you can see this bothers me just a bit…

  13. Hey there, Ronin here, just found the site and I LOVE it (this is my first comment)

    2 is probably not as difficult as it sounds. If they’re fundy, you know the daughter’s gonna be a PK to the highest degree, just play on that. Be super fundy two-faced nice to the Preacher man, while giving the daughter the bad boy she’s probably desperately going to want.

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