The Modern Pastoral Ministry Has the role of the pastor been redefined in the staff driven church era? Who are all these “ministry pastors”? Is the “senior pastor” also the “solo pastor”?
The word “pastor” as used in the Bible is the Greek word poimḗn. A poimen is a shepherd. A shepherd is a cover, feeder and leader. Strong’s Greek Dictionary gives this definition, “a poimen is someone who the Lord raises up to care for the total well-being of His flock (the people of the Lord).”
According to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:11 “pastor-teacher” is one of the primary equipping gifts in The Body of Christ. The pastor is necessarily a teacher. The ministry of the pastor is a spiritual gift.
The “senior pastor” whose name is on the marquis may not have a dominant spiritual “pastoral” gifting. The “senior pastor” role that we have in the modern church is skewed because it is assumed that every man or woman who oversees a congregation is an Ephesians 4:11 “pastor”. There are many modern pastors whose dominant traits are apostolic, prophetic or evangelistic. Even some senior pastors are more teachers than “poimens”.
The shepherding aspect of pastoral ministry requires the dominant traits of a nurturing nature and a caring character. A clear and pure people orientation should be obvious. This can often translate into relationships that are personal, dynamic, close and sometimes daily. This is the shepherding that causes shepherds to smell like the sheep.
The modern senior pastor has too many demands upon him/her for this kind of shepherding. The senior pastor is a spouse, parent, chief executive officer, church administrator, civic board member, denominational officer, chaplain, social worker, educator, entrepreneur and life coach. The opportunity and capacity to have personal and daily contact with members is nearly impossible.
The ministry leaders who are now being called “pastors” are surely necessary to help subsidize and underwrite the lack of personal and pastoral capital available in the machinery of modern ministry. The senior pastor needs other pastoral gifts at work in the congregation. Those who have the “pastoral gifting” will have the ability to nurture souls. They will have the gift to connect and care.
Ministry leaders are servant leaders. All ministry leaders do not have a pastoral anointing. Those who do can and should be identified as “pastors”. Their role in the congregation must be an extension of the compassion, vision and action of the senior pastor. “Ruling elders” and deacons are also a very important part of the pastoral paradigm in the New Testament Church (Acts 6:1-7; 20:28).
The reckless ease that is used these days to apply and occupy Ephesians 4:11 titles is alarming and alerting. The senior pastor must be discerning as he allows the gift and title of the “pastor” to operate in the local church. Those who are pastors indeed will need position and permission. Those who are auxiliary and ministry leaders are “servants”. They need pastors too.