By Melissa Wuske
Study of the Pastoral Profession
It’s no secret that ministry is a tough job, but LifeWay Research has some good news: “Ministers are not leaving the ministry in droves,” said Scott McConnell,
LifeWay Research vice president. That statement is a result of a survey of 1,500 ministers who held senior minister positions in 2005; in the decade since, 13 percent had left the profession for reasons other than retirement or death.
That’s particularly interesting when compared to the difficulties of the job: 84 percent of ministers surveyed said they’re on call 24 hours a day; more than half frequently found their role overwhelming.
“This is a brutal job,” McConnell said. “The problem isn’t that ministers are quitting—the problem is that ministers have a challenging work environment. Churches ought to be concerned, and they ought to be doing what they can. If you’re at all in a position of influence in a church, there are practical things you can be doing to help.”
The study found that 71 percent of churches have no plan in place for ministers to take a sabbatical; two-thirds don’t have a support system for ministers’ families; and 30 percent don’t have a document that clearly states the church’s expectations for the minister. (Read all their findings: www.lifewayresearch.com/2015/09/01/despite-stresses-few-pastors-give-up-on-ministry)
Priests May Forgive Abortion During Holy Year
December begins the Catholic Holy Year of Mercy, and Pope Francis announced that during the year priests may forgive women who’ve had abortions. “I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision,” Francis said.
The Catholic Church considers abortion a “reserved sin”—a bishop must give a priest the authorization to forgive it. Most U.S. bishops have already given priests approval to offer forgiveness, but women in other countries often face delays and rejection in seeking forgiveness. “It’s a widening of the church’s mercy on what is such a dramatic and widespread issue,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman.
While the Catholic church’s stance on abortion is unchanged, this is a powerful shift. “Even though John Paul II used much the same language, and forgiveness has always been available—albeit through more formal channels—that message wasn’t out there because the rhetoric that accompanies abortion is so elevated that it eclipses the church’s teaching on forgiveness and mercy,” said Candida R. Moss, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame.
No More Passive-Aggressive Emails
Have you ever received (or sent!) an email with a foreboding underlying tone? While writers sometimes intend a snarky or belittling tone, occasionally such a tone creeps in accidentally, spawning unintended consequences. IBM has a tool to help people make sure their email tone is open and positive. The Tone Analyzer scans each word of the email for emotional, social, and writing tone—and helps writers edit to get their desired tone.
California Environmental Legislation
Lawmakers in California proposed legislation to cut down greenhouse gas emissions. The bill aims to double building energy efficiency requirements, get half of electricity from sources that are renewable, and decrease vehicle petroleum use by half. And it aims to do this in the next 15 years. Some experts say the goal is not feasible in that time frame, but others find the ambition admirable. Dallas Burtraw, an expert on environmental regulation in the field of electricity, expects that other states will follow suit: “The ambition is going to be contagious.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).