Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Pastor Is...

The much of the Evangelical community today the office of pastor is seen in a variety of lights, many of which fail to grasp the true role of the pastor.

The Pastor as CEO of the Church continues to be the more favorable view. This conception of the office sees the church as an organization of which the Pastor is president. It is his duty to provide the church with all that it desires, lead them through programs, and grow their numbers. The success of this type of pastor is judged by his ability to numerically grow the church's membership, finances, and square acrage.

The Pastor as Social Activist is a popular model in some northern churches. This vision of pastoral ministry uses the pastor as the motivator for social action in the community and world. His main responsibility, then, is to scout out oppurtunities for the church to engage in social work and to provide the necessary motivation to get the congregation into action. His success is judged based on the number of people he helps and charitable orginazations the church starts.

The Pastor as Inspirational Speaker is the description of more pastors than most are willing to admit. This pastor may not even realize that this is his label, but the work that he does reveals that it is. He is to give encouragement to the congregation, build their self-esteem, and more often than not make them laugh. Is main priority is to be "relevant," and make the crowd "feel good". His success is determined by how funny, relevant, and "helpful" he is. And as well his ministry at large continues to be judged by numbers.

There are many other ideas of what the pastor is but Mark Dever's description of pastoral ministry is the most in accord with Scripture that we find in modern ministry books. In his book The Deliberate Church Dever writes, "Pastoring is ultimately about ensuring salvation for ourselves and others" (82). To support this view Dever points his readers to 1 Timothy 4:13-16. There we read Paul's words to the young pastor: Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and your teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

What a view of ministry this is! Pastors are God's spokesman to the Church. They are God's stewards of His sheep, guardians and propagators of His message. This means that it is the pastors job to teach and preach the word of God. To help the church apply it to their lives, to counsel them, love them, and lead them through preaching and biblical application of the text. This vision of pastoral ministry, then, is judged a success by its faithfulness to Scripture. Numbers are nice, but God determines a pastor a success in ministry if he faithfully follows God's commands. It is this vision of pastoral ministry that we need to recover, and thankfully when we do God is pleased and we find the church having the utmost relevance for its culture.

This is what the Pastor IS!


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