Interview: Pastor Talks About Three 'Occupational Disease' of Protestant Pastors

Pastor Guo Jinfeng of Zion Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong, preached a sermon on April 16, Sabbath Day, 2022.
1/2Pastor Guo Jinfeng of Zion Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong, preached a sermon on April 16, Sabbath Day, 2022.
The pastorate ordained a female church worker as a pastor in Datong, Shanxi Province, on December 19, 2021.
2/2The pastorate ordained a female church worker as a pastor in Datong, Shanxi Province, on December 19, 2021.
By Steve Sun July 27th, 2022

Pastor L graduated from a Protestant seminary in Central China and there was a Catholic church next to the seminary. Therefore, during his three years of studies at the seminary, he sometimes met Catholic priests and nuns and talked with them. After Pastor L left the seminary, he went to plant churches. Having pastored church for thirty years, heL has increasingly noticed a strange phenomenon in the Christian pastoral community. This strange phenomenon can also be called "occupational disease."

Pastor L said with strong emotion, "Over the years, I have increasingly discovered three strange phenomena in the Christian pastoral community."

He cited, “The first is that pastors are becoming bureaucratic. The second is that pastors have become used to teaching people lessons. The third is that they give people around them great pressure, hiding their innermost thoughts deeply.”

"But when I was staying with a Catholic priest, the priest would not give me lessons easily or make me feel burdensome and he just talked with me quietly. He would not take every opportunity to give you a sermon as a Protestant pastor would. The priest was used to witnessing to the faith to people around them with their life affected by faith. These were some of my experiences I had before I became a pastor,” the pastor recalled.

Pastor L feels that Catholic priests are a little more easygoing and sincere than Protestant pastors who give people the impression that they are eloquent with words and desire to teach people at all times.

Pastor L claimed, "Pastors of the Christian faith should care for the common people and aim to give them spiritual food; pastors should not focus their attention on introducing people into a system as soon as they come to church. Eventually, their family relationship and marriages are hurt by the church and when they cannot bear the church any more, they would leave the church which hurts them deeply and try to find another one. Once they receive special attention from a pastor and experience pains afterward in the pastor’s church, they may keep changing churches, entering into a vicious circle of changing family churches into public churches. Though pastors appear to be spreading the gospel in the church, they sometimes are driving people out of the church. If believers see a power struggle in the church, they may feel more disappointed with the church.”

He gave another example about a brother. Though he had no faith, he married a pastor's daughter. His father-in-law never taught him the gospel directly; all his father-in-law did was to go fishing with him but this brother felt that the pastor’s faith was real and he wanted to believe in Jesus. The brother used to have the impression that Christian pastors were too shrewd and eloquent, while Catholic priests would treat people kindly. 

"Christianity should change and reflect on their actions. I feel that some church’s pastors are very cold to believers probably because they are too busy," he urged.

"I once brought my church members to visit a large church in another city, and when I formally greeted the pastor of the church, he was still talking to others while shaking my hand. Through this unhappy experience, I have learned a lesson that I should not become such a pastor in the future," he added.

Pastor L believes that pastors will go through many trials and tribulations in order to grow mature, and in this process of growth, they will see their weaknesses and inadequacies. Each experience is intended for pastors to reflect on their faith. When pastors slowly get used to robbing God's glory, this is the danger of the church, and the true pastor has to throw away such desire completely.

- Translated by Alvin Zhou

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