May I share some more thoughts from my reading of Hans Kung? Thanks, I knew you wouldn't mind.
Kung states in his book, The Church, the following idea:
"The disappearance of a clerical class from the world is a natural corollary of the general breakdown of the social class structures. It does not indicate a hostile limitation of the power of the church, but rather a neutral, perhaps even positive, price of secularization. At all events it need not be seen as a disadvantage of the pastorate, which functioned just as well in the first centuries of the Church's history as in later stages when it formed a particular social class. The degree of social recognition which it attained was usually purchased at the cost of considerable worldliness, and without it there is more chance for its purely spiritual nature to shine through. Pastoral ministries have undergone several changes, ..." (Kung, Hans; The Church, page 557)
Simply put, clergy are not that important today in society. We have lost our influence and our strength of leadership. For Kung that is okay, because the first century church leaders did not have either and look how far the Church came.
Well, he has a point; we are not thought of as in ages past. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we have been discovered to have feet of clay and human hearts. Some pastors have failed and fallen off the pedestal, bringing the rest of us down with them. Where once we were part of the most trusted profession, we are now held in suspicion by the vast population.
I'm okay with us returning to our roots and finding the simple joy and humble gladness of serving the Lord. I don't think we will die off if the world does not hold us in highest esteem. But, and I'm just thinking here, how will we be able to influence a people for Christ Jesus if we are not seen as movers and shakers in the field of faith? How will we be accepted as leaders in our faith communities if we have such bad PR in this day and time?
I may be simplifying things here, and if that offends you I apologize ahead of time, but what if we simply entered into the ordained ministry for the joy of the call and the living out the will of the Lord upon us? What if we didn't expect from others more than we expect from ourselves? What about serving with no thought of advancement or of glory in being appointed to the hierarchy of the Church? (I know I am one to talk, being a DS.) But seriously, how might the clergy be perceived if the only gain was the joy of the Lord as our strength and the excitement of bringing people into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ? Would that - Could that be enough for us?
I don't think we need a clergy class of people; I am looking for a group of clergy who will give their all to make disciples and to transform the world. Ahhh, now this sounds like something that is very possible and attainable. Perhaps the writer of Colossians says it best; "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." - Colossians 3:23-24
From one clergyperson to another, something to think about,