The Pastor Role

I’m starting to wonder if the place of a pastor needs to change drastically within the context of our churches today. I don’t think its working. More and more pastors are falling into burn-out, affairs and other unmentionables and churches are closing down week after week. We’ve elevated the pastor to a position which isn’t necessary a bad position but it is a position where he is there all by himself. We all (well a few) tithe 10% and then assume that it’s the pastors pay and now everybody else can take their respective roles elsewhere whether it be greeting, worship teams or prayer teams.

There are a few problems with the pastor ideology that we have now. For starters, we think that if you are a pastor you should get paid. We think this because most of our pastors do this as their career. Since this became a career, it gets treated like a career. We all think the same way when it comes to our careers. We want to be more successful, make more money and have more people know what we are doing. With everybody searching for this great status, less and less people actually end up getting the position and it soon ends up being one senior pastor (and if lucky some others on staff) who runs the whole show. The problem with this is not the pastoral position. Pastors are biblical people who have very important and specific jobs. The problem becomes when we pay one pastor and forget that our church probably should be full of them.

By paying one pastor, it somehow means to us that the position is no longer needed. We don’t need a pastor anymore because the position is full, so we start to see where we can filter other people. What if though, the church was meant to be full of pastors. What if it wasn’t the senior pastors job to pastor 300-10000 people and instead, the paid position of the church was to teach people how to be pastoral. I’m not sure how this works, but I’m starting to understand more and more paying someone to be the teaching pastor, to sit and study for forty hours a week to help teach a group of people to be more like Jesus instead of paying someone to be pastoral. At the very least, maybe if the pastor was paid, it should be his job to work himself out of a job.

What if a senior pastor made it his own personal mission to pour so heavily into certain people and help make them into pastors? I doubt it would ever happen, it doesn’t make much sense to try and lose your job. I think however, that churches would be a lot better off if we didn’t depend on that one person we were paying so much and started developing pastors from the inside who do what the senior pastor is normally expected to do by himself. This would free up the pastor to do all kinds of neat things, but instead he’s busy being a Christian and following Jesus for all the people that would just rather throw some money in the plate.

7 Comments

  • Interesting Nathan. I think when we in church made ministry into a verb we began to lose the idea of ministry as a noun or an attitude.

  • as a teaching pastor, I concur.

  • Imagine being out and being asked “what do you do for a living” and you say “Im a pastor” yet you work somewhere else full time? For society, that doesnt make sense. Why are we so worried about this title?

    Are you?

    Also, I would placce you at a “higher” level in regards to scriptures. You went to school for it, I went to school for something else. Of course I would respect your opinion, your supposed to be the expert.

  • I agree with some of what you say here, Nathan. But what do you make of that text in 1 Timothy 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”?
    I would commend to you David Well’s helpful analysis of what is wrong with pastoral ministry in “No Place For Truth.” I think you are reacting more the professionalization of the ministry than anything else – at least as far as Well’s defines that.

  • Hey Paul, your exactly right. I don’t mean to diminish the role of the teacher and pastor but i was trying to point out the idea that we’ve made it into a celebrity position and no one wants to touch it and all stay away from it thinking its ‘the celebritys job who we pay’

    Yes they deserve double honour, and I’m not even against them being paid, what i’m questioning is this idea that once the pastor is paid the position is filled and think there is no positions available which sends them looking for other work as an usher or money counter.

  • I understand.
    Are you thinking though that “everyone is a pastor” or are you thinking more in the categories of “plurality of leadership?”
    The reason I ask is becuase I think the former is swinging the pendulum too far past centre. I agree with your view that “star pastors” are a revolting picture of what servant leadership entails. But I don’t think we can deny that there are some men who are called to minister to the church as pastors under the Chief Shepherd… and that these men are specific gifts to the church.

  • I do not think that everyone is a pastor, or everyone is a teacher, everyone definitly has their own gifts and we should develop people in those gifts, but the pastor role as it is, is too narrow.

    Churches of 600 people with one or two defined pastors doesn’t work, one person can’t pastor 300 people properly. But we have this idea that for some reason the pastor is the guy on the stage and we don’t leave any room for other pastors to emerge within the congregation.

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