Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Pastor - (Part 3 of 7)

For most of us that have attended both protestant and Catholic churches, we are used to a priest or pastor at the helm of our local church. That is the way it should be. However; as we've seen in Ephesians 4:11, there is more to it than that.

For our Catholic friends, their priest has the help of deacons, bishops, cardinals and the pope. It has pretty much become a corporate structure at this point in time. I am not sure how all the hierarchy works, but there is one over the other with the pope in the highest position. Our Protestant friends, in most cases, are accustom to a senior pastor, a deacon board, elders and occasionally some sort of self titled apostle (church planter). Outside of the church they may have itinerant evangelists and possibly a prophet. They are almost exclusively para-church organizations, with no real connection to the church.

In the end, the pastor most often turns out to be CEO of the local church, and rarely reports to someone above them. Sometimes his elder board are co-equals, but rarely have I seen it this way. It is most often the pastor over the elders, over the deacons, over the other ministries, over the congregants.

The corporate types say, someone must be in charge. Someone should have the final decision in a disagreement. I don't see it in the 5-Fold model per se. I believe that the elders are the authority in the local church. This is where gifting comes in. A God designed leadership that compliments each other, makes for the most effective local church ministry. Deacons are often seen as servants. If that is the case, why do they vote? I can't find voting in the Bible-- just the casting of lots.

As you can see, there are some problems with a corporate church structure. And add to that, the exegesis of Ephesians chapter 4 where some scholars believe that in the Greek, it says pastor/teacher, really making it a 4-fold collaboration, then we start to see the root issues with pastor controlled churches. I just don't see it that way. If the 5-Fold giftings are to be co-equal as equippers, then all must do some sort of training and teaching. Each facet of the church ministry needs to be taught, and demonstrated.

Remember roles, are not gifts, and gifts are not roles. Anyone can have a gift, only those that are called have a role.

Many pastors are relegated to fill the visionary roll, the administrative role and the teaching role, not to mention being the paid holy-man, toilet cleaner and resident evangelist. It is sad. Many good men and woman are burned out doing things that are required of them, while they spend little time working out the details of their call.

Most Christians can't really tell you what a biblical pastor does. When we look at the 5-Fold model of "church" there are some things that he doesn't need to do, and other things that could be done by others around him. A pastor is often required to be a visionary, but isn't that really the job of the apostle? The details of the vision are often given by the prophet. Administration? Why does that pastor have to be good at organizing people? Again, this is a role probably better suited to an apostle.

So what does a 5-Fold pastor do? He always responsible for relationships, helping people become whole through counsel and prayer, and he is available for confession. In short, he is the one that facilitates making others feel significant to Jesus. He is the salt and oil-- the gentle Jesus in the flesh-- there to heal the soul. A good pastor is relational, perceptive to the needs of his flock, understands brokenness and people in general. He should be able to teach others to do the same. Folks with the helps gift will often be by his side.

The pastor is the one that leaves the 99-- not boasting about how many sheep came to the service-- going after the one that didn't. He is the one that finds out why people are not involved in their local church, and does something about it. How awesome would it be for a pastor to go out and find those that have stopped going to church because they have been hurt, offended, unloved and rejected by the body?

Our new pastor, he lives to meet needs, and he is dedicated to seeing folks healed and become productive as disciples of Christ. Certainly he prays, makes sure the sheep are fed, knowing that he doesn't have to do all the feeding. He is the role model of forgiveness, mercy and grace. He knows that a real shepherd leads from the back of the flock, not from the front.

As I diagrammed in the previous blog, a pastor may have other spiritual gifts, such as a word of knowledge, or healing. Whatever gifts that he has, they will augment his basic role as pastor: healing, reconciliation and relationship.

I have to confess, my pet peeve is when a pastor is not a pastor. Because our traditional model is not completely biblical, we can end up having teachers, prophets and evangelists pastoring churches. However; it is not unusual for an apostolically called person to be sent to start a church. Apostles are visionary/structural/gathering folks by nature, and may pastor and teach for a period of time to get things going. A mature apostle, knows that the sooner he fills the role of pastor, that sooner he'll be able to move on to a new work.

Churches pastored by a teacher, are by nature, not very relational and can be a bit legalistic. Teachers tend to be black and white, with little room for the grace that some need to get going in Christ.

Churches led by evangelists will have a high turn over of shallow converts. Without pastoring, seeds are planted in thin soil, often snatched by the devil. Evangelists often lack the nutruing side of a New Testament pastor. These converts don't grow relationally, or work through their spiritual and soulish issues. The nature of an evangelist can be very intense, and powerful, but ultimately, they have a hard time when there are no new souls to be had for Christ.

Prophet led churches are full of vision and revelation, but the nature of the prophet is the least forgiving of the lot. They are the plumb-line of the 5-Fold and grace is rarely on tap. Christians in these churches will be the poster children of "iron sharpening iron." Prophetic folks, hearing from God, tend to be stubbornly "right," often bringing on conflicts as they try to straighten the path for others. This is why the pastoral, relational person is required for long term, and deepening relationships in any church.

As with many things that God intends to teach us, some of it is a bit general, and very personal at the same time. Therefore; there is no perfect job description for our New Testament pastors. Each one, will hopefully fulfill that basic calling to make sure that his flock is safe, cared for, nurtured and fed as God supplies their needs.



Tevet said...

Previously, I listed what I thought were indications of a great entry.
1. I am convicted by Holy Spirit
2. If I read it a 2nd time
3. If I fwd it on to others.
4. It stirs up a hunger for the Word.

I now have to add a 5th indicator of a great read.

5. If it leaves me without anything to add.

Great job, David!

eaglegirl said...

This makes so much sense. If only the right people were doing the right things in churches.

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