But churchgoers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them. It’s apparent in the theater-style seating and giant projection screens in churches and in mission trips that involve more sightseeing than listening to the local people.
They’re no longer expected to offer moral counsel in pastoral care sessions or to deliver sermons that make the comfortable uneasy.
In the early 2000s, the advisory committee of my small congregation in Massachusetts told me to keep my sermons to 10 minutes, tell funny stories and leave people feeling great about themselves. The unspoken message in such instructions is clear: give us the comforting, amusing fare we want or we’ll get our spiritual leadership from someone else.Under these unceasing pressures on their religious ethics, clergy are burning out.
I don't think Mormon congregations are much different. Judging from my lifetime in the church and my recent feedback on my series of postings on church leadership corruption, people don't like being told they are, or might be, doing something wrong. They want adulation. I quoted the late Gordon B. Hinkley that [a]dulation is poison. But, that is still what people want.
What happened to the old maxim, that "church is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?" It seems reduced to just comforting the afflicted, or rather entertaining them.
Human nature being what it is, I don't think we will change that much. As individuals, we need to allow ourselves to be afflicted, when we deserve it.