What is a Pastor’s Role in the Church?
March 22, 2009, 19:54
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photo from http://www.mvmc.org.uk/testimonies.html[ I love it!]

Most of you know I never volunteered for this job.  I came by the way of Jonah .  I fought the call for 30 years, but ended up right where God wanted me, when He wanted me, and where he used me.  As we changed from a failed 25 year old mess to a vibrant new church start, I changed from a 47 year old supposed escapee of God’s plan, to a living, new, church Pastor.   The church is new, I am too.  The church went through two floods,  death of the head deacon,  an exodus of the old school and a name change.  I have experienced change on the same order.  There is a joy in watching God do a complete make-over, almost as much joy as being the object  His remodeling. 

My ideas of what a pastor is, what he does, how he interacts with the people God has given him to love,  have always been nebulous.  I had no model,  no education,  no human mentor, no clue.  I wish I could point to a pastor who made a difference in my life, but although I searched for such an experience, it was not to be.  My years as a lay preacher certainly helped to prepare me, to a degree,  with bible study and sermon presentation,  but  were of no help , and perhaps were a distraction or at best a false start for the role I have today.

I am convicted that “Feed My Sheep” is my main task.  Jesus’s commandments to  “Love God and Love thy neighbor” are my objectives.  I have learned that without the Holy Spirit I can do none of it.  There is a lot less of me in me, and praise God a lot more of Him.

What do you think the job entails?  What does it exclude?  I have learned a lot from the comments of the readers here, but I have much more to learn.  Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but so far being a friend to the people in the pews seems to take priority and also be amazingly rewarding.

Tell me,  I might not follow your advice, but I will listen. 

13 Comments so far
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“For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death!” Deuteronomy 31:27

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13

Moses ministered the old covenant. Paul ministered the new covenant. The difference is obvious.

Moses looked at his people and said, “You sorry bunch of rebels, I’ve had to watch you like a hawk. And the moment I die, I know what’s going to happen. You’re going to run from God so fast . . . .”

Paul looked at his people and said, “Sure, you have problems. But I’m not worried about you. In fact, you don’t even need me around any more. God is at work in you, and you’re going to be just fine.”

As a pastor under the new covenant, it is not my job to manage other people’s sanctification for them. They don’t need me to do that, nor am I qualified to do that. They do not need negative scrutiny; they deserve confident encouragement. Should problems be addressed along the way? Sure. But the main thing to communicate is new covenant confidence. God is at work in them. That work is sacred. That work can be trusted. That work is to be revered.

Under the new conditions God has established through Christ, who couldn’t love being a pastor? I am walking among living miracles of God.

“Ray Ortlund”

Comment by Ike

Be careful how you react if one of your congregation approaches you about an attitude or teaching. Keep in mind the courage it takes to confront someone in authority. Thank them for loving you enough to bring it up, and promise you will prayerfully consider what they’ve said. Then do it. It’s okay to decide that you disagree with them, but you should know why you do.

Comment by Shawn W

Will, I’ll offer two groups, one scriptural, one opinion. First, scriptural…

Shepherd the flock AMONG YOU. You can’t shepherd at all unless you are in with the sheep. Get to know them as much as possible. Share your life with them. Know them! Standing in the pulpit for an hour each Sunday isn’t shepherding.

Equip THEM for the work of the ministry. It’s THEIRS, not yours. You show them how, they do it. Of course, you minister too, and in some special ways, but they need to learn to minister and not say, “duh, well he’s the minister, go ask him.”

Don’t LORD IT OVER the sheep. They are quite capable of leading their own lives and being creative in their own ministry.

Encourage, encourage, encourage.

Don’t place ANY BURDEN WHATSOEVER on your flock that you aren’t willing and able to help them with more than a finger (see Matt. 23) For example, if you’re a homeschool advocate, don’t burden them with homeschooling unless you personally have trained and discipled every family in your church in how to do it, complete with easily ovservable and accessible examples.

Now for some opinions.

Keep your hands OFF of the church budget, building, building programs, offering, choir, people’s ministries, purchasing, on and on and on. All this takes away from shepherding the flock. If it ain’t prayer or Word or shpeherding, don’t do it; minor exceptions, of course, if you’re talented at something like playing the oboe or fixing cars.

Teach them to think for themselves, that it’s okay to disagree with you on matters. Invite them to share differences, experience from various backgrounds, how they did things when they were younger, etc. Teach them grace. Teach them liberty, and what it really means. It means much more than “I’m free to drink a beer now and then.” Don’t preach politics.

Comment by Steve Scott

Oops, another biggie: don’t allow yourself to get into the position of being “the authority.” YOU DA MAN is not part of Christianity. Christ is the authority in the church. Don’t let your flock get in the habit of “asking you permission” to do things. That’s part of the not lording it over. The flock should feel free to read and study the bible together without permission, minister to others without permission.

Comment by Steve Scott

Feed them.

Give them God’s law, and His gospel. Don’t water down either one. Be strong in them. And realize that His gospel always trumps His law.

Hand over Christ in His Word and sacraments…knowing that He told you (us) to do it. And in that promise…He will be there.

Comment by theoldadam

Fantastic! No calls for church growth? Nobody said i need a progressive vision statement? Not one mention of what brand of power point presenter is best?
I really love you people. You “get it”.
Is there a better feeling than when you ask for advice and the advice you get echoes the desires of your heart?
Each and every comment here is filled with the love of Christ and the wisdom found only from God. May God richly bless each of you, thanks for ministering.

Comment by willohroots

I am honored to count you as a friend.
Rob Lofland

Comment by Rob

dont ever get comfortable.
dont ever stop asking and learning.
dont ever stop sacrificing yourself completely for the sake of others.
dont ever give up on broken messed up people.

Comment by graceshaker

I think the main job of a Pastpr is to present the Gospel and keep Jesus Christ and the Gospel central to the thinkology of people in the Church. I recommend you check out Tim Keller at http://www.monergism.com or http://www.redeemer.com

Comment by Jon Spadino

I am a Kellerite. Teaching about Jesus is my passion. I am right with you!

Comment by willohroots

What is a Kellerite?

Comment by Rob

If a Mennonite is a follower of Mennos, A Kellerite would be a follower of Tim Keller.
I love this man’s heart for Jesus and his preaching style.

Comment by willohroots

I have enjoyed all of the comments that were posted and I just have to say it is good to know that there are still real people around that talk the true salvation of the cross of Jesus Christ. Thank you all and I really needed to have found this article today.
God Bless

Comment by Felicia Jordan

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