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myfirstLove
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Joined: 2005/11/26
Posts: 496


 The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role

I found this article in a friend's blog. I've never read anything from Frank Viola, but only this article. I find this article very good and biblical.
God Bless, Lisa




The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role

… the commonly accepted notion of “sola pastora” (single pastor) is at odds with the NT. The Bible knows nothing of a person who stands at the helm of a local church, directs its affairs, preaches to it every Sunday, conducts its baptisms, and officiates its communion (or Lord’s supper).

The highly specialized, professional “pastoral role” of modern Protestantism is a post-biblical novelty that evokes a tradition of humane (but not so helpful) sacerdotal-ism! It is essentially a carry-over from Romanism (the priest). As such, it better reflects the weak and beggarly elements of the Levitical priesthood than anything found in the NT.

Just as serious, the pastoral role warps many who fill this position. Those who get seduced by the trappings of clerical professionalism are virtually always tainted by it. God never called anyone to bear the heavy burden of ministering to the needs of the church by themselves.

Perhaps the most daunting feature of the modern pastoral role is that it keeps the people it claims to serve in spiritual infancy. Because the pastoral role usurps the believer’s right to minister in a spiritual way, it ends up warping God’s people. It keeps them weak and insecure.

Granted, many who fill this role do so for laudable reasons. And not a few of them sincerely want to see their fellow brethren take spiritual responsibility. (Many a pastor live with this frustration. But few have mapped the problem to their profession.)

Yet, the modern office of “pastor” always disempowers and pacifies the believing priesthood. This is so regardless of how uncontrolling the person who fills this position may be.

Since the pastor carries the spiritual workload, the majority of the brethren become passive, lazy, self-seeking, and arrested in their spiritual growth. In this way, both pastors and congregations alike cannot help from being spiritually lamed by this unbiblical office.

While the NT calls Paul an “apostle,” Philip an “evangelist,” Manaen a “teacher,” and Agabus a “prophet,” it never identifies anyone as a pastor! In fact, the word “pastor” is used only once in the entire NT (see Ephesians 4:11). And it is used as a descriptive metaphor, never as an ecclesiastical office. This flies in the face of common practice. Today “the pastor” is regarded as the figurehead of the church. His name is exclusively splashed on church marquees all across America. (One wonders why other ministries do not appear on these marquees when they are given far more attention in the NT.)

In the final analysis, the modern pastoral role undermines the Headship of Jesus Christ. It has a spiritually crippling effect on the church. It robs God’s beloved priesthood (of all believers) of its full employment. Further, its mere presence diffuses and stalemates those “ordinary” believers who are equally gifted to shepherd and teach the flock. (Never mind that the Bible teaches that every church is to have multiple shepherds. Or that all members of the Body are to bear pastoral responsibility.)

Typically, if someone other than the pastor dares to shepherd or teach the sheep (even if he may be trustworthy, mature, and gifted), the pastor will feel threatened. He will then snuff it our under the guise of “protecting” the flock!

To be more specific and pointed, the present-day conception of “the pastor” is far removed from the thought of God. It puts the dynamic of NT community into an Old Testament straitjacket.

Yet regardless of the spiritual tragedies it engenders, the masses continue to rely upon, defend, and insist on the existence of this most unbiblical role. For this reason the so-called “laity” are just as responsible for the problem of clericalism as is the “clergy.” As Jeremiah 5:31 says, “The priests rule on their own authority; and my people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?”

If the truth be told, many Christians prefer the convenience of having someone other than themselves shoulder the responsibility for ministry and shepherding. In their minds, it is better to hire a religious specialist to tend to the needs of the brethren than to bother themselves with the self-emptying demands of servant-hood and pastoral care.

The words of the old prophet capture the Lord’s displeasure with this mindset: “They have set up kings, but not my me: they have made princes, and I knew it not…” (Hosea 8:4a).

In light of these sobering facts, one may intelligently ask how it is that the modern pastoral role remains to be the commonly accepted form of church leadership today. The answer lies deeply entrenched in the history of the Reformation. And it continues to be reinforced by current cultural imperatives.

In short, our 20th-century Western obsession with offices and titles has led us to superimpose our own ideas of church order onto the NT. Yet the very ethos of the NT militates against the idea of official-elders.

Scripture is equally at odds with the “senior pastor” concept. This is the common (but unscriptural) practice of elevating one of the elders to a prominent authoritative position. Nowhere does the NT sanction the notion of primos inter pares – “first among equals.” At least not in any official or formal way.

This disconnect between “the pastor” and the other elders was an accident of church history. But because it meshes perfectly with our acculturated Christian mindset, modern believers have little trouble reading this false dichotomy into Scripture.

In sum, the modern pastoral role is little more than a one-size-fits-all blending of administration, psychology, and oratory that is packaged into one position for religious consumption. As such, the sociological role of pastor, as practiced in the West, has few points of contact with anything or anyone in the NT!


_________________
Lisa

 2010/4/9 14:16Profile









 Re: The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role

all i know is this: the most annointed meeting i ever attended, was when the pastor was prevented from being there, by a 100 ton rock that fell atop our two lane mountain canyon road. My brother (who was leaving for missions in the Pacific Rim, still there) and i looked at each other, and the Holy Spirit lead me to humbly ask Jesus to Pastor this meeting of 25 saints in a crazy rainstorm.

This meeting was unlike anything i ever attended before or since, decently, in order, and the Sweet Fragrance of Messiah swept the saints to glory,.... to give a recount of what happened?

well, just try it sometime,that's all i can say for now, Jesus is a Wonderful Pastor.

neil

 2010/4/9 15:02
michigan
Member



Joined: 2006/4/16
Posts: 1


 Re: The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role

God Bless Neil/Lisa
I thought the article Lisa in the main to be absolutely on point.Its sad that many in the body of Christ hold to this one man at the front tradition and i agree that it leaves many believers spiritually immature and lazy. I know that many pastors really do love the Lord but are trapped in this system which I agree with Frank Viola is unbiblical. I dont know who Frank Viola is but i have reached my own conclusions from scripture aswell as looking at other articles. This strikes a chord with me because I used to be in a position of leadership and i know how my heart changed from sincerely serving the flock to having the flock serve me and silencing or getting rid of anyone or anything that threatened my position. Because it happened to me I recognise it and see it so many times in different churches how that kind of power eventually corrupts. I'm so glad I'm free from that and my prayer is that Jesus would have His church back and believers would be free to worship in spirit and in truth.

Lloyd

 2010/4/9 17:47Profile
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2002
Joplin, Missouri

 Re: The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role

Interesting post.

As far as I can tell, nowhere in scripture do we find a local body or church having a person called a pastor. Apostolic leadership always ordained a plurality of eldership in each local body. It is entirely possible that some of these elders were called to be pastors, but most of them probably were not. Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher are equipping gifts given to the body to bring the body into maturity and to equip and edify them and are not necessarily the same as eldership.

Local bodies or churches were always defined by the city in which they were located. The city I live in has, by Biblical example, only one church. It is the church in Joplin. Because of the size of the city there are many parts of the local church that meet in different places. Unfortunately most of these parts of the local body see themselves as separate churches and are divided by all sorts of differences.

We are far from the Biblical example of the church that operated in first 100 years or so after Christ ascended. There is a Biblical governmental structure that I believe we would do well to get back to.

Travis


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Travis

 2010/4/9 23:12Profile
KingJimmy
Member



Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re:

According to 1 Peter 5, Jesus Christ, our "Chief Shepherd" alone is our "Senior Pastor." Such is not a role he delegates to others in His absence here on earth. It's a role He occupies locally and universally. It's His position alone to occupy.


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Jimmy H

 2010/4/9 23:15Profile
mguldner
Member



Joined: 2009/12/4
Posts: 1860
Kansas

 Re: The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role

This is something that I have battled with and have found my answer and peace of mind about it. I actually got into a small disagreement with my head pastor over this because I challenged his authority with Christ's authority. I asked him who the head of the church was, he advised me under Christ he was the head, at which I disagreed and said Christ is the head. He asked me what the Senior pastor was and I said fingers and toes just like everyone else. After much thinking on this question I still haven't really put my finger on what "body part" a senior pastor is in the body of Christ.

The term pastor means elder, overseer, priest, bishop, and sheperd etc. The Catholic church I believe is the one that starting sperating these titles and putting more emphasis on certian titles such as Bishop and Priest. The Elder, Priest, Pastor, Overseers, Bishop, Sheperd, etc were all the same office and in most cases each Church had more than one Overseer or Elder to make sure power wasn't abused.

God Bless,
Matthew


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Matthew Guldner

 2010/4/9 23:41Profile
KingJimmy
Member



Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re:

Many pastor/elders have a misunderstanding of their function within the body of Christ. They think they are supposed to run a church and it's programs, and preach a sermon. They think they are supposed to "cast a vision," and a lot of other things. Biblically speaking, elders never did any of these things. Rather, they lived lives that demonstrated what the Christian life was supposed to look like, and taught others how to do the same, providing oversight to the souls of those in their care.


_________________
Jimmy H

 2010/4/9 23:54Profile









 Re:

you guys all have a point and I agree wholeheartedly. It's just more human influence infiltraiting christianity. Kind of like like at work where it's the dichotomy of the boss and the underlings. And where there is a dichotomy, there will be politics.

There is a guy named John Fenn who although I don't know of his credentials and what not. He does propose that we go away from a structure of the modern church and get smaller into house churches where everyone leads on a ration whether it be in message, praise, prayer or whatever that person's gift may be.

Where ever there is power to be had, there will always be a power struggle underneath it.

http://www.supernaturalhousechurch.org/aboutus.html

 2010/4/10 4:01









 Re:

Quote:
This strikes a chord with me because I used to be in a position of leadership and i know how my heart changed from sincerely serving the flock to having the flock serve me and silencing or getting rid of anyone or anything that threatened my position. Because it happened to me I recognise it and see it so many times in different churches how that kind of power eventually corrupts.



@Lloyd

I've been called to have characteristics for a fair leader, I don't like to be in the limelight, I choose what is right over something even if it hurts me, and I've been told I'm modest but if you put me in a position where I have power like a dictator and no checks and balances, I can quickly turn into a tyrant.

What I'm saying is that POWER can deceive even those who seem to be able to resist it the most. It's like money and sex.

I think as the church, we should not put anyone in that amount of temptation or pressure.

I think the whole premise of christianity is that we're sinners and we're in our very nature evil. As the church, we should do everything we can to prevent each other into falling in traps because I don't know anyone that is holy enough not to fall into these traps.

 2010/4/10 4:13
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2002
Joplin, Missouri

 Re:

Watchman Nee wrote a fantastic little book on this issue. It is called the Normal Christian Church Life. I would STRONGLY recommend it. I did not see eye to eye with him in that he made the pastor/teacher one role. But, I can see how it can be defended scripturally and is not a really big deal. Otherwise his assessment of the Biblical teaching on church leadership and structure was spot on in my opinion. I know Nee was heavily influenced by TA Sparks, and that Sparks was very kingdom minded rather than denominationally minded. I have searched for teachings on church structure by Sparks and have not found much. However, what I have found by him is very powerful.

By the way, you can find it and read it online. No need to search for a paper copy.

Travis


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Travis

 2010/4/10 10:49Profile





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