Posted by: Taylor | January 31, 2007

The Absent Pastor

I was called to be a pastor when I was eighteen.  I am now thirty-six.  Over the course of the past eighteen years of serving God in ministry I have seen many changes, some good, and some not.  One change both angers and grieves me, the new worldly view of pastors and staff.

For at least the last twelve years, churches have developed a new philosophy concerning pastors and how they are to be selected.  Pastors are not pastors anymore.  They are leaders, innovators, facilitators, team builders, media gurus, and business savvy.  Sometimes, these men of industry don’t even need to have theological training, moral integrity, or spiritual maturity.  Entrepreneurial and secular success are deemed more valuable than Biblical literacy and doctrinal soundness.No Technical Skills Required

In the after shock of this trend, we are discovering churches without a Biblical compass.  Guided more by what looks good than what is right.  Take a moment and read a church advertisement on the Internet.  The qualities desired sound more appropriate for the business world than the spiritual.

The after effects are now becoming visible.  Some believe the springing up of community, non-denominational, mega, and emergent churches are examples of a spiritual awakening.  But I don’t see it.  I see a church confused and searching for her identity. 

Theological debates and dialogues are beginning anew over issues settled thousands of years ago.  Many believe these dialogues serve a purpose of engaging our modern culture with our history and beliefs.  I see it differently.  We are re-fighting battles won centuries ago.  Its in the record books.  Our focus is being diverted from the real need, a lost and dying world.

I have much to say about this, but an article I just read says it better.  Once I have had time to gather more information, I will write a more detailed article dealing with the absence of pastors in our churches today.  In the meantime, Please read Dr. Michael Horton’s article Wanted:  Ministers Who Preach Not Themselves But Christ.

PreachingAnd remember, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1

One final long note.  Being a pastor is a high calling.  Lately, I have listened to pastors share from the pulpit that the calling of a pastor is no different or more significant from that of a layman in business.  This was spoken as a means of demonstrating the importance of vocational work in any field.  The pastor desired to show that each of us has a high calling in whatever kind of work we are employed to bring God great honor.

I do not disagree that everyone has a vocational calling.  God has a grand purpose for each of our lives.  But, I strongly disagree with the premise that all vocations are equal.  Each serves it our purpose, and we should leave it at that.

The scripture above clearly teaches that those who are called to teach (i.e. pastors) are held to a higher standard, and therefore, no one who wishes to become a minister should take this lightly or treat it as a common thing.  During my first pastorate, I was confronted by a leader who believed the sermons were too long.  I asked him what he believed the appropriate length would be.  To which he responded, “10 to 15 minutes.”

I shared with him that was inappropriate, and that I had a duty to God and the congregation to teach the Word whether it took 15 minutes or a half hour or more.  He did not understand why I was so stubborn about this.  I shared with him that God holds ministers to a higher standard and that my first responsibility was to God and not to his whims or desires.

He then told me that he did not believe that pastors would be judged more strictly than others.  I pointed him to James 3:1.  He read it, looked me in the eyes, and told me that he still did not believe it. 

This is what happens when a poor very of theology, doctrine, and pastoral training are held.  More than this, attitudes similar to this deacon emerge when a diminished view of preaching and teaching God’s Word creep their way into the life of a church.  And the sad reality is, pastors are doing it.

Copyright © January 2007 by Taylor W. Kendrick

All rights reserved.  No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

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