If you’re a pastor, you’ve likely heard it. “We need a pastor who is more of a shepherd!”
What does that mean? I interpret that to be the 20th century American fallacy that we pay people to do things on our behalf, including pastors to do the primary ministry activities. Go visit members in need. Listen to all of the members’ heartfelt life concerns. Be available 24/7 when the members decide they want to connect with the pastor.
I even saw an article from a pastor today that said we needed to return to that model, that that is what it means to be a pastor. What does Jesus want from those who are called with the job description of pastor? What does it look like to be a pastor in our day?
I will always turn to Ephesians 4 for direction on what it means to be a church leader of any ilk. Do church leaders work hard? Absolutely. But it isn’t in doing the vast majority of ministry tasks in the name of a congregation. The job is in some ways harder than that. The expectation is to equip others for doing the ministry God is looking for from each of us.
How many times is it just easier for me to do it? I know what I believe needs to happen. I can take care of it in a few minutes. If I seek to mentor someone else, that takes time. They may not do the ministry as good (at least at first) as I would. They won’t do it as I would. Often people are reluctant to take a next step of ministry. After all, that’s why we pay the pastor!
But alas that Bible. A church leader’s imperative is to equip others. So I will have to work harder and let go of my assumptions for what the ministry looks like. And I will have to endure comments that want me to do the ministry in a visible manner (so it looks like I’m earning my wages) rather than being behind the scene and empowering others who will receive the acknowledgment.
The task of a church leader is to pass the baton, to mentor, to coach, to equip. Plain and clear. Sometimes that will put us at odds with Jesus vs. those who pay our salary. Take up your cross!
Being a pastor is tougher today than perhaps ever before in America. Even when we agree that a church leader’s job is to equip others, how do you do that? It is foreign even to our training.
It is because of such concerns that I became a church consultant. We all need others to come alongside us as coaches to help us discover God’s path for us. And, if you’re like me, you can use some resources for equipping people in a contemporary context like this Lay Leadership Training.
I’d love to hear from you about your opinion of the role of pastors today. How have you seen the equipping ministry work in your context?