Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pastor: Shepherd or CEO

Pastor is the most overused and ill defined word in the North American church landscape. It is used in settings of small house churches, church plants of fewer than 20 people and in churches of 80,000+. I have even seen it used recently by some big name tel-evangelists, as if it makes them more personal to their unknown viewers.

Biblically it is only translated this way one time (Eph. 4:11), but it has synonyms which include the words: shepherd (Acts 20:28), overseer (1 Pet. 5:2), teacher (1Cor. 12:28), elder (Acts 20:17) and bishop (1 Tim. 3:1).

Jesus himself is described as that great Shepherd (pastor) of the sheep. Heb. 13:20 He is the only one we are to have as our shepherd in a life long relationship .

A pastor’s role is to point people to the great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. It is to free them to know Him. Therefore their role must be personal and temporary. When a pastor is acting more like a CEO or in a long term function of oversight, they are not fulfilling their biblical mandate. Eventually, we are to mature to be peers within the function of eldering and never, at any time, are we to be under anyone but the Lordship of Jesus.

If the elder in your life is not helping you get closer to Jesus in a timely way, then you are being deprived of a vital means of being built up in your life in Christ. If the relationship is not two ways, don’t be deceived into thinking you are being pastored. You may be gaining information but not necessarily transformation.

I recognize that in the wineskins that exist that what I am saying is difficult to hear, never mind be able to have. Nevertheless, our life is to be found in Jesus with each member of His body building each other up. "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1Cor 12:27 (NIV)

Paul functioning as an apostle said it this way,
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching [were] not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1Cor 2:2-5(NKJV)

Once this function has helped you to mature, it is their duty to not create dependency in them through entertaining preaching or teaching. Nor is it to get you involved in organizational structures that serve the institution but are not vital to your relationship with Jesus. Just as their primary purpose is to know the true Shepherd’s voice and follow Him: they are to instill that joy in you as well.

Their motto should be the same as John the Baptist’s, "He (Jesus) must increase, but I [must] decrease. John 3:30 (NKJV)

1 comment:

Kurt said...

There is something to be said of a pastor when he prays before beginning to preach a sermon, when he asks God that he would stand behind the cross of Christ so that the congregation would see Christ in him alone when he preaches.

If you listen to the first 1:40 of Pastor Carter Conlon's sermon from Times Square Church titled, "Be Sure, Your Sin Will Find You Out," (http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons.php?filter=y&media_type=WMV) this would be an example.

Each week at TSC, I see and hear their humbleness in prayer before the Lord. There is no mistake that they understand their role to be a pastor to a congregation and do not act like a CEO of a large organization.

It is a shame that so many of the PDC ministries and emerging church leaders strive for larger numbers of people attending their church, strategizing for church growth rather than striving to live like a follower of Christ in the first century and following the example provided in Acts 2.