The second thought that I am having about pastors is this: because pastors can be fired at whim within the mainstream protestant church gang, the ones that are left are towing the party line. They preach what their parishioners want to hear and they don't make anyone uncomfortable. In short they dabble in the truth - and focus only on topics that make congregations feel warm and fuzzy.
The interim pastor at our church - the firmly-avoiding-outreach pastor - that has been left with this quivering mass of guilt and self-righteousness - plays only to the folks who pull the strings in the church. Fired pastor had a plan to open a third church in our geographical area. Within weeks of his being dumped the newest line-tower got up to promise that none of that was going to happen (phew!). Instead, the church was going to focus on "listening to God." I promise you, we have been to a number of churches where the pastor promises that - and it is the death-knell of any meaningful sort of Christian community.
This is quite simply a lie. No one is listening to God. Rather, they are playing at being part of a Christian club. A few die-hards are out there sharing their faith, and the congregation of over 400 cheers at the one annual baptism of the one new Christian. What no one wants to admit is that this is usually some dear soul who has simply switched churches after a bit of a breaky-poo.
The fact is when churches get comfortable and start looking inwards and get busy "healing" and ignoring the community outside their doors, churches start suffocating. That is what happens when pastors have to please to save their paycheck.
While we were trying to find our mega-church of choice, we stopped by a new church in our area for a Sunday and truthfully, it was a breath of fresh air. Here's why: the pastor was paid by a central office of the denomination that had done the church plant. He was not dependent on any of the faithful that sat in the chairs in front of him. The Sunday that we went he spoke on tithing. He apologized for the topic. No one wants the money topic - but he said that he felt fine to talk on it. After all, he wasn't asking for money for himself. His pay came from somewhere else. He just taught that tithing was God's idea. It was freeing and easy. That his own pay was not attached to that body of believers allowed him to do his job the way he felt God wanted him to do his job, not the way he felt the chief donor wanted him to.
Centralizing pay, supervision, and education of pastors might be something we need to explore if we are going to get out of the way and let God breath life back into the bones of His churches.