The Church Series (My Pastor) Pt. 25 (WARNING) Rated FG-7

My Pastor, he is the fundamental figure of the Christian faith. So prevailing is the pastor in the minds of most Christians that he is often better known, more highly praised, and more heavily relied upon than Jesus Christ Himself! Remove the pastor and most churches would be thrown into a panic. Remove the pastor and Christianity as we know it would die. The pastor is the dominating focal point, mainstay, and centerpiece of the contemporary church. He is the embodiment of Christianity. But here is the profound irony. There is not a single verse in the entire New Testament that supports the existence of the modern-day pastor! He simply did not exist in the early church.

The Pastor is in The Bible….Right?

The word pastor does appear in the New Testament:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, Ephesians 4:11

The following observations are too made about this text:

This is the only verse in the entire New Testament where the word pastor is used. One solitary verse is a mighty scanty piece of evidence on which to hang the Christian faith. In regard, there seems to be more biblical authority for snake handling (see Mark 16:18 and Acts 28:3-6) than there is for the present-day pastor.

The word is used in the plural. It is pastors. This is significant. For whosoever these “pastors” are they are plural in the church, not singular. Consequently, there is no biblical support for the practice of sola pastora (single pastor). The Greek word translated pastors is poimenas. It means shepherds. (Pastor is the Latin word for shepherd.) Pastor, then, is a metaphor to describe a particular function in the church. It is not an office or a title. The first-century shepherd had nothing to do with the specialized and professional sense it has come to have in contemporary Christianity. Therefore, Ephesians 4:11 does not evasion a pastoral office, but merely one of many functions in the church. It is a profound error, therefore, to confuse shepherds with an office or title as is commonly conceived today.

In Christians churches the pastors tend to be the spokesmen and representatives of the church and the church is often the pastor’s church. This is a great danger and threat to Christianity. The New Testament word for minister is diakonos. It means “servant.” But this word has been distorted because men have professionalized the ministry. We have taken the word minister and equated it with pastor, with no scriptural justification whatsoever. In like manner, we have mistakenly equated preaching and ministry with the pulpit sermon, again without biblical justification.

The unscriptural clergy/laity distinction has done untold harm to the body of Christ. It has divided the believing community into first and second class Christians. The clergy/laity perpetuates an awful falsehood namely, that some Christians are more privileged than others to serve the Lord. The one-man ministry is entirely for foreign to the New Testament, yet we embrace it while it suffocates our functioning. We are living stones, not dead ones. However, the pastoral office has transformed us into stones that do not breathe.

It has distorted the reality of the body, making the pastor a giant mouth and transforming you into a tiny ear. It has rendered you a mute spectator who is proficient at taking sermon notes and passing an offering plate. It has made ineffectual the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14, that every member has both right and the privilege to minister in a church meeting. It has voided the message of 1 Peter 2 that every brother and sister is a functioning priest.

Being a functioning priest does not mean that you may only perform highly restrictive forms of ministry like singing songs in your pew, raising your hand during worship, setting up the PowerPoint presentation, or teaching a Sunday school class. That is not the New Testament idea of ministry! These are mere aids for the pastor’s ministry.

We expect doctors and lawyers to serve us, not to train us to serve others. And why? Because they are experts. They are trained professionals. Unfortunately, we look upon the pastor in the same way. All of this does violence to the fact that every believer is a priest. Not only before God, but to one another. Jesus Christ is the only head over a church and the final word of it. By his office, the pastor displaces and supplants Christ’s headship by setting himself up as the church’s human head. As long as the pastoral office is present in a particular church, that church will have a slim chance of witnessing such a glorious thing.

The contemporary pastor not only does damage to God’s people, he does damage to himself. The pastoral office has a way of chewing up many who come within its parameters. Depression, burnout, stress, and emotional breakdown occur at abnormally high rates among pastors. This is one of the major reasons why many pastors live very artificial lives. In this regard, the pastoral role fosters dishonesty. Congregants expect their pastor to always be cheerful, completely spiritual, and available at a moment’s call. They also expect that he will have a perfectly disciplined family. Furthermore, he should never appear resentful or bitter. Many pastors take to his role like actors in a Greek drama. Many, if not most pastors cannot stay in their office without being corrupted on some level. The power-politics endemic to the office is a huge problem that isolates many of them and poisons their relationships with others.

Professional loneliness is another virus that runs high among pastors. The lone-ranger plague drives some ministers into other careers. It drives other into crueler fates. It is lonely at the top because Gog never intended for anyone to be at the top except His Son! In effect, the present day pastor tries to shoulder the fifty-eight New Testament “one another” exhortations all by himself. It is no wonder that many of them get crushed under the weight.

The contemporary pastor is the most unquestioned fixture in twenty-first-century Christianity. Yet not a strand of Scripture supports the existence of this office.

Posted on October 24, 2009, in The Church Series and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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