Monday, September 27, 2010

What's a Pastor to Do?

This article is food for thought. For Church members and those who go to Church on a regular basis, one of the questions most often asked is: "What does the pastor do during the week?"

I have heard many different expectations of a pastor. They are expected to:

  • conduct marriages for couples;
  • Do funerals or conduct house blessings; 
  • visit the sick in hospitals;
  • Take care of the Church office administration;
  • Preach and teach the Bible;
  • Administer the sacraments;
  • Take charge of the Sunday services etc;
  • Participate in board meetings and leadership groups in the Church;
  • Link up with neighbouring Churches when doing outreach or community projects;
  • Take care of the flock entrusted to their care;
  • Answerable to the higher authorities in the Church hierarchy (if any?)
  • ..... 
In some churches, especially some Korean ones, the senior pastor is expected to preach every morning and to visit all in the Church. It is not surprising for such a pastor to be labeled a 'spiritual superman.'

The list goes on to include different aspects of spirituality as well as counseling, prayer, exposition of the Word of God, and of course home visitation. If there is any indication, the list of responsibilities tends to grow longer over time. This article provides a laser-like focus on the special calling of pastors. I would venture to include Church leaders like elders, deacons, committee chairpersons, group leaders and others in strategic places within the fellowship. In "What's a Pastor to Do?" Bob Kellemen focuses on equipping the saints. 

He says that instead of the primary role of pastors being the 'preacher, care-giver, and CEO," which is what most congregation members expect, we need to focus on what Christ expects pastors to do. In a nutshell, he says:
"Christ’s grand plan for His Church is for pastors/teachers to focus on equipping every member to do the work of the ministry."
The idea sounds good to me. However, it lacks the pointed question of 'how?' To his credit, he offers a suggestion as:
"Your spiritual craft or gift is to help others to scout out their spiritual gift, identify that area of ministry, and empower them to use that gift."
That itself is potentially superfluous. Isn't that a calling to all within the Church? It is like discipleship. We are all called to practice discipleship within the Church. When everybody is expected to do everything, the potential is that nobody will desire to do anything. 

Perhaps, the role of the pastor is to be an example for disciple-making. Pastors lead the way on what it means to disciple one another in Christ. Thankfully, Kellemen adds the example of Paul:
"He made making disciple-makers his personal ministry description—Colossians 1:28-29. He made equipping equippers his personal ministry practice—Acts 20:13-38. Christ’s grand vision so captured Paul’s ministry mindset that at the end of his life he passed onto Timothy the vision of equipping equippers of equippers—2 Timothy 2:2. The baton of equipping passed from Christ’s hands, to Paul’s hands, to Timothy’s hands, to the hands of reliable disciple-makers who passed it on yet again."
Having said this, the idea of equipping is certainly a good one, even a necessary one. Perhaps the way Kellemen ends the article is enough to get us going. If you are currently a leader of a group, think about the role of equipping others to take over as your primary goal. That changes the way we do ministry. That changes the way we understand discipleship. In fact, equipping one another in the Lord is discipleship at its core.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
This calling is not just for pastors, but for all who call themselves disciples of Christ. May the pastor lead the way by example.


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