This post is from the defunct blog "Dying Church"What is needed in a pastor? Not from what congregations want or would like -- that's an endless laundry list. Rather, what does God want and what does God call forth in those his Spirit raises up and gifts as pastors? The unfortunate thing is, more time is spent finding or creating pastors of our own taste rather than seeking a biblical understanding of the pastor in the life a congregation. Biblically, pastors are shepherds of human souls, overseers (episcopos) of the spiritual life of those entrusted to Christ. They are guardians of "the faith delivered once for all to the saints" and stand vigilant against those forces that seek to harm God's people. The whole idea of a pastor as a kind of manager, or worse, CEO is the imposition of a 20th century business model on the church itself, and a recasting of "pastor" in those terms rather than biblical terms. A second imposition, that of the pastor as "caregiver," defined not as one who protects and defends against the enemies of the soul and spirit, but as a pyschotherapist, is another 20th century recasting of "pastor." The thing is, in each case it comes back to us, to what we want, what we'd like. I think it's time for us all, perhaps beginning with pastors, to understand what God means by "pastor", what his Kingdom requires from pastors, and how he is addressing that either with or without the assistance of the church.
This post is from the defunct blog "Dying Church"Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:7 "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." This passage lies at the heart of my understanding of church life. I volunteered to help out here at www.leadingdyingchurches.com because I think the mangerial, corporate, and 'numbers oriented' ministry is bankrupt. Any view of church life that doesn't look seriously at what makes the church unique is just one more view of popularity, profit, and success. Recognizing that the church contains a power that is beyond marketing, curriculum, or culture is the first step in denying ourselves and lifting up Jesus. The church is but a jar -- what is in the jar is far more valuable than the jar. The biggest flaw with corporate churches is that too many of the members of those churches are consumers. They have found a product that they like - at a franchise that makes them feel the way they want to feel. The consumer is using (abusing) the gifts and talents that others have worked hard developing. The church cannot have any coat-tails. Each member must find their own place of ministry, they must foster their own prayer life, and must study the Bible regularly for their own growth. Without action, prayer, and study the garden withers and no fruit is produced. Churches are communal experiences of believers. But each believer has to participate fully in the life of faith. No consumers. No cheap grace. In the end, corporate churches only perpetuate the fraud that the church is unique because of the success of the organization (shown through numbers, budgets and buildings). The church is unique because of the message of good news - the story of redemption and salvation. Paul had it right ... "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." Any thoughts for the new guy ... ?