What is the Biblical role of the pastor? I know of a church that expected the pastor to make the role of “chaplain”at the Christian School the priority . The church did not want him to disciple and equip them to use their own gifts in witness and ministry, but wanted to pay him to promote the school with a view to growing the church.
In his book, Dr. Wickman states that churches usually want three primary roles for their pastoral employees (Pastor at RISK, chapter 7, pg. 62):
- “Church promoter”
Dr. Wickman further points out what most pastors understand from the Bible, they are called by God to the roles of: “Witness/Evangelist, Steward, Ambassador, Discipler, Overseer, Elder, Equipper, Servant, Pastor/Teacher, Preacher/Encourager, Shepherd” (pg. 64).
Acts 6:4 simply says: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Prayer and the ministry of the word are the central roles of a gospel minister.
Now I would suggest at least three reasons behind why people want the above three roles to define the ministerial position in church culture:
- They expect the pastor to act as professional entrepreneurial CEO or CFO. The Corinthians expected Paul to be a professional speaker and complained when did not meet their expected role.
- They want the pastor to act as the “great high priest and mediator”. Too often, it seems to me, the pastor is put on a pedestal by an adoring congregation and expected to do all the communicated and uncommunicated ministry required by them. The pastor should make the church grow, put the church on the community map, and spin plates at the same time.The problem is that when the congregation finds out the minister cannot “make” things happen to meet these expected roles and that he has feet of clay, they no longer adore him but despise him.
- They assume that the Ruling Elders or Board of Deacons are administrators, not shepherds. Too many ruling elders are successful administrators in the world but do not have the heart of a shepherd. Often people are elevated to elder because they did their time as deacons and are then “promoted.” Or because their fathers were elders they inherit that legacy.
I believe that what is too often at work in a congregation is an inordinate desire for numerical growth…as an end in itself. So if the shepherd does not have a winning season or make a profit or is too old…fire him. Trying harder replaces faith in the Holy Spirit for progress. Heard of “Nickels and Noses”?
Also I appreciate the principle of church government that pastors are called by God, not employed by churches as a “job.” So pastors do not work for the local church but work with them!”
Please remember Jesus is the only perfect Good Shepherd. Under-shepherds are sheep too- sinful, weak, frail, dependent sheep. Ministers in their role also need the gospel of care, love, grace and mercy like all of us in His Flock. Feed His sheep!
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