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What Is a Pastor – Intro to Series

What is a pastor?  Is he a good teacher?  Is he a good leader?  Is he someone good at drawing people together?  Is he a counselor?  What are his responsibilities?  One of the big problems the church has faced is that many people have decided to follow the brick-and-mortar model of a church and appointed themselves to start such a church.  The problem is that many of these men are not qualified to be pastors.  I am talking more here about heart, focus and shepherding than anything else.  If a man is unable to be a shepherd, a gentle guide who cares for every member of his flock as his own, he should not even be thinking of starting a church.  I hear often from futurist pastors “I need to do what is best for the majority of my congregation.”  By which they mean shunning a small minority they believe are beyond help.  But Jesus left the 99 to try to save the 1; that is being a shepherd, not playing to your power base!

Pastoring is much more than preaching on Sunday and organizing a few events, or doing some writing.  Pastoring is nurturing and loving every single member of the congregation, regardless of their place in life.  The thing I see lacking the most in pastors these days, is love.  Some are great teachers, outstanding writers, great organizers, but instead of shepherding a flock they are more interested in carving out a niche for themselves.  When a bump in the road (read: less than perfect member) arrives they circle their wagons instead of following scripture and being a minister to those in need.  This is also obvious in the community when pastors and churches only help certain kinds of people, instead of being the church to everyone in need.

This is where the model of the scriptures comes into play so much.  A pastor should be under the guidance and support of older, more experienced pastors.  He should be taught how to shepherd.  He should learn how to counsel his people in love.  He should learn how to care for those in the community.  For many pastors, preaching comes naturally, but they can and do permanent damage spiritually, psychologically, and physically when they fail to learn the other necessities of being a shepherd.  Let’s say, for example, a person in the church needs marriage counseling.  If the young pastor, without being a good counselor, or knowing what he is doing, dives right in to counsel the couple because he is their “pastor,” a relationship has started that can never be severed.  He is now a part of their marriage.  They have opened up themselves in a way that does not go away just because counseling stops.  If he gives bad counsel, he could damage lives forever.  If he abandons the counseling, he could make it impossible for that couple to ever entrust their marital secrets to another counselor.   If, on the other hand, he brought an experienced pastor along side with him in the counseling process as he learns, he has less risk of creating problems.  That pastor would be able to be someone else the couple could trust.

Pastoring is much more than preaching on Sunday.  There are so many things pastors can do that can be spiritually devastating to their members without even knowing it.  I focus in on counseling in particular, because that is part of my training and background.  I have seen hundreds of people personally whose spiritual, emotional, and psychological lives have been completely shattered by pastors who give advice when they should keep their mouths shut, who counsel people with no knowledge of what they are doing, but especially of counselors who start the process with a member, gain trust, and receive intimate secrets from couple or individuals, and then either walk away from counseling or hand the people off to other counselors.  Anyone  trained in psychology, or counseling knows this is one of the most damaging things a counselor can do.  So why do people with no experience and no oversight  think they can pastor people and counsel them?  I am not sure.  But the damage is rampant in our pews and in people that will never step foot inside a church again.

That is why it is essential for men thinking of starting new preterist churches to find an experienced mentor, to guide them through these landmines.  AS a shepherd your first concern should be for your sheep, each and every one.  (Remember Jesus left the 99 to try to save he one, he didn’t stay with the 99 to do what was best for the majority!)  There are many experienced pastors in the preterist movement who can guide young pastors through this process.  Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help.

About Edward J. Hassertt J.D.

One comment

  1. Clergy, Laity & Ordination. None of those words exist in the New Testament, not one. The priesthood was done-away with at Christ’s death. No longer was a separate religious order needed to intervene on man’s behalf. God even went so far as to tear the curtain to the Holy of Holies in two from top to bottom to aid in this understanding. When I was a child in Sunday School, I was told that our pastors are not like priests. Our teachers taught that we could pray directly to God. We didn’t need to go to confession. Pastors don’t need to burn sacrifices to make offerings to God. But as I read the New Testament and Church history books today, I see no reason for a distinction between clergy & laity at all. Peter wrote in a general epistle; “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work…” 1 Peter 2:9.

    “But what about the so-called Pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus” someone asks. Yes, Timothy & Titus were sent to churches by an apostle, Paul, in his stead. They were to do many of the things that the apostles did during their travels. Mostly the same things pastors do today in local congregations. But remember, they were never called pastors, priests, nor clergy. Nothing indicates that they were anything more than a hired-gun, experts in theology and leadership. The Bible calls Church leaders overseers (episkopos) or elders (presbuteros). The terms were used interchangeably; in fact, Paul even referred to himself in this way. Timothy and Titus were there to make sure things got on the right track and stayed there, not to become the foundation of a newly ordained order of clergy—those days ended at the crucifixion.

    “But that’s not being respectful to the office” you say. What office? That’s exactly my point…the Biblical office of Pastor has nothing to do with “ordained clergy”. The word Pastor only appears once in the New Testament. That’s right, the most publicly recognizable office in the entire modern Christian Church almost goes without mention in the Bible. This single reference is tied for dead-last on a prioritized list of Church offices—lumped together with teacher.

    Lets look at this word pastor; to our modern ears it implies clergy but no such concept existed in the original Scripture nor to the original reader. The oldest scrolls we have show a Greek word, poimen, it literally means shepherd. In early translations that Greek word was replaced by its Latin equivalent, “pastor.” This Latin word has the exact same English meaning as the Greek poimen did—shepherd, not clergy nor priest. When combined with teacher, the only reasonable interpretation is, those who are charged with the duty of training-up and shepherding, presumably the young, or at most, those young in the faith.

    “How did this happen” you ask? The early Christian Church was famous for being the only religion with no clergy and no temples. For the first few centuries, the Church grew-up under the Roman Empire. The strong hierarchical structure of the Empire no doubt influenced the burgeoning gentile Church membership. In the late 300’s AD the Roman Emperor Theodosius ended state funding of the old pagan religions. As a result, those pagan priests were essentially forced to convert to Christianity, many bringing their various hierarchical ordination and high liturgical practices with them. How much of this took place we don’t know; but only in hindsight, after the Church had centuries to get used to the idea of the Roman Catholic (and Orthodox) priesthood, was there any implication of clergy in the word pastor.

    I’m not saying we need to fire the Church staff or declare war on semantics, but I do think Protestantism is sliding down the same slippery slope that both our Orthodox and Roman brethren slid-down long ago. It’s far too easy to call our leaders Clergy, and place them on a pedestal, thinking that they are somehow more holy than other Christians, it just makes it farther to fall. Purists will also argue that it’s yet another pagan practice brought into the Christ’s Church.

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