Of Pastors in our Culture: A Rueful Review

Although this video does not encompass or inspire all of the questions and ideas I am about to discuss in this article, it does help to prepare the reader’s mind. Please watch the video first, then read the following article.

David said that the pastor is part of the Body of Christ (more specifically, he is also part of the local Body), and yet he has less access to the Body than anyone else. It would seem obvious that he is part of the Body, but much less so that he has nominal access to the grace afforded to that Body. Why is it that so many Christians pay shallow lip service to the notion that the pastor is, “one of them”, a member of the local Body? Is this the pastor’s fault? Does he, as an individual, remove himself from the close cloister of fellowship, by limiting his own contact and proximity? Maybe he is “unavailable” to them, so he can remain unbiased. Maybe he is ashamed to share his weaknesses with his church’s members. Perhaps, he fears that if they know he struggles, then he could lose his job. Then, there’s the pastor who has been burned before. This man sought out spiritual men in his church to keep him accountable, holding nothing back and sharing his whole heart, only to have it blow up in his face. This experience taught him to clam up, clamp down, and keep quiet; especially when the matter could, in anyway, be used against him.

Or, Is it the doing of a “reverential” flock, which sees their pastor as an exalted “other”. Have the members built up the wall of separation? Maybe they explicitly informed him of their expectations that a pastor be “dignified” and “above it all”. Or, maybe the desire to have a shepherd who does not entangle his personal affairs into the lives of the members was implicit. In divers ways the message was given and received loud and clear.

What we are left with is a sorry state, where the minister has no one who can minister to him. It is a lonely existence for the pastor, and opens him up to temptation and waywardness.  Members claim that one of the key reasons they leave a church is that, “They didn’t make any friends” which roughly translates to “I didn’t feel loved”. So, what about the pastors? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to have friends in the membership, be of one body, feel the love that is supposed to define Christian fellowship?  (According to the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development %90 of pastors polled feel “fatigued and worn out” on a daily and weekly basis. Also, %77 of pastors claim they do not have a good marriage, and %75 felt they were unqualified for ministry.)  Click here for more alarming statistics on pastors

This also creates an environment of top down leadership. The Scripture says, and David reiterates, that Christ is the head! There can only be one head, so even the pastor is a part of the Body. When the pastor is treated like the head, it is bad for the pastor and bad for the Body. It is confusing, for the members, if the pastor fails or falls. It is an enticement, for the pastor, toward moral failure, pride and competitiveness.

The bottom line is this, when the pastor is removed from his membership, no body wins.  When 20% of the congregants do 100% of the ministry, (the heaviest lifting of course falls on the pastor) then %80 of the Christians are not serving.  If every Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, then why aren’t our churches full of ministers?    Could it be that we have built our modern churches on pastors, instead of on Christ?

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