What does a pastor look like to you? What images come to mind?
A few weeks ago I called a local business about an event we were doing. The lady on the phone took my information down and asked me, “so are you the youth pastor?” I replied, “No ma’am, I am the pastor.” She was surprised that I was THE pastor because she didn’t expect THE pastor to do such menial tasks as make phone calls. In her mind, she thought surely I must have a secretary, assistant or another pastor who would be more suited to taking care of trivial issues. Her response is not uncommon in my experience. Others have responded to me in similar fashion. This is the way people see pastors today. They have the image more like that of a CEO of an organization than an approachable person in the community. But as an average pastor, we don’t always have the luxury of having people who take care of things for us. We have to do the little things to keep our churches going.
My experience on the phone that day, and other experiences like it, have caused me to wonder about how the role of the pastor has become more equated with the CEO than the person who cares for the affairs of the household of God. The reality is that the phenomenon of the mega church and multi-level staff organizations have turned many pastors into CEOs. Nearly all the pastor conferences are nothing more than leadership conferences that teach organizational leadership principles. Today’s pastors have people to do pastoral care, make business decisions, manage the staff and do all sorts of jobs that used to be the pastor’s responsibility. One of the fastest growing positions in the church is the Executive Pastor who runs the day to day operations and staff of the church.
The idea of a pastor being a CEO just isn’t the reality of my pastoral experience. I have to participate in every level of ministry and church life. Even though I have a staff, they are part time and aren’t always available to me to help with the day to day. I make my own phone calls, do my own media, sometimes clean the church, run the errands, manage the calendar, preach the sermons, do pastoral care and do many other tasks that people today do not think a Pastor should do. But, this is the reality for 80% of us that pastor an average church. That is what average pastors do.
I don’t want to be a CEO. I want to be a pastor. In the next few blogs I will look at a couple images the Bible gives for the pastor that have nothing to do with being a leader of an organization. I believe it is time we take back the corporate images of the Pastor and reclaim the biblical model for pastoral ministry found in the images of the shepherd, the levite and the elder. These images of being a pastor are not celebrated today as they were in years past, but they are still the dominant roles for pastors of average churches like ours. I will share about each of these images and how they empower the average pastors to embrace our identity and reject the pull toward corporate church models.