It was a couple of years ago that I read Collapse by Jared Diamond and the book had a profound influence on my thinking. Hearing him a couple of weeks ago started caused me to revisit my thought process on societal collapse some more. For me the most interesting part of the book is the difference between cultures that allowed themselves to collapse and those that did not. The main difference was the isolation of the leadership. If you were an isolated leader whose fate was not related to the well being of the people, you tended not to care. If your fate in life was dependent on the ebbs and tides of those following your rule, you cared a lot. A modern day example would be why New Orleans did not spend the millions to fix the dykes. While Ward 9 was below sea level, the wealthy and the ruling class lived on much higher ground. Another example of this is PM Harper’s comments that the economic collapse is a good buying opportunity for stocks. He may be right (If I find a couple more dollars in the couch, I can afford to buy all of the Ford Motor Company [which has a market cap of only 4.3 billion today]) but his viewpoint comes from being a long way removed from where many people are living. His pension is secure and he doesn’t have to worry about retirement.
I wonder the same thing can be said about church pastors. For many, they come from outside the community, have no long term ties to the community or the church and if going gets rough, have escape routes to take to another church, back to school, or another religious institution. Constant church transitions means that entire years are lost (researchers say it takes a pastor 7 years to build the relationships necessary to be effective in a local church… of course since most senior pastor tenures are under 2 years in the United States, that is just theory). In addition to this, there is a clergy class in almost every denomination which in a variety of historical settings has chosen to protect itself and it’s members rather than the institution it serves.
Lyle Schaller has written about this extensively but I wonder if until we can get our minds around a different idea what leadership looks like and then figure out new ways to teach and educate them for pastoral ministry, the current system is just going to make the problems worse.