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Posts Tagged ‘pastoring’

Most of you who read here belong to a traditional church of some sort. I want to first say I am not against the “traditional” church, though I disagree with them on many critical issues, especially over the last 9 months. I guess I would also struggle with most of the house guys if they begin to isolate and insulate themselves from others in any divisive manner. I think in some sense many traditional churches, regardless of how hard they try, will begin to lose the family aspect of the New Covenant Community especially once they cross the line of around 100 members. Then once we throw in buildings, mortgages, pastor salaries,  employment positions (I wonder how much you would charge your child or brother, or mother or sister to serve them 8) ) the Church loses the motif clearly presented in scripture and begins to function sort of like an organization/corporation/entity versus a loving close knit family eager to love and serve one another for the greater good of that member! However, this is not an apologetic for the way to do church but an eager plea to pastors/elders/shepherds/bishops or any other name one will take as the leader(s) in the local church.

What do you mean by masquerade Lionel? Great question! Glad you asked! If you have ever had the experience of attending a masquerade ball you will know exactly what I mean. Everyone dresses up in ball room attire, and it is meant be a social and interactive gathering; however, there is one spin! You all have on masks, thus I really never get to see you for who you are. For example if someone were really good at disguising their voice they could easily become someone else, though you may know them quite well. Or to put it another way, you never really get to know me, because you never really see me for who I truly am. The mask keeps you at bay thus I have real chance at being found out, unless I take the mask off and expose myself.

I think for the most part this can describe many Churches and their is a weekly ball! Everyone comes with their masks on and they use them to keep you at bay. So we waste all of our time and give our money, and read our bibles and sit next to each other, sing the same songs, listen to the sermons, pray the same prayers, recite the same liturgy, shake hands, park in the same parking lot, exchange the same pleasantries, even serve one another by ushering, deaconing, pastoring, leading worship, being parking lot attendants and even keeping one another’s children in the day care, all the while never getting to know each other because the masks stay on.

Think about it, what if you were a child born into a family where everyone wore masks? At the wedding the bride and groom wore masks, at home they sleep with their masks on, they eat dinner with their masks on, have children and the children wear masks so the other brothers and sister don’t get to see them. We would label that family at best weird at worst lunatics! But it happens every Sunday and pastors are the big reason why! I know, I know, Lionel you are making sweeping and broad assumptions! But the truth is in a recent study it showed that 80% of pastors have no relationship with those in the church they pastor, another 10% have very little relationship (they are a little more hospitable, but the masks never come off) and the rest had some form of relationship but not where they would like to be.

Why you ask? It is simple! The pastor is considered the spiritual leader in the congregation. I was reading something and it said that the pastor should be careful not to fraternize too much, if so, they may risk their authority! What the heck  (I would prefer another word)!!!!  I wonder how that works? I wonder what America would look like if the husband said “I only will fraternize with my wife to produce children and to set our yearly budget”?! But in most local churches the only relationship the pastor has with those he pastors is when he is leading some type of discipleship class! Nothing on any meaningful level. Though he teaches and proclaims the necessity of community we find him lacking in his own life.

So what do I mean about the perpetuating of the masquerade? You are asking really good questions! If I am correct in this analysis my thesis will prove to be correct, if not then what follows fails. So, here we go. Relationships=Vulnerability! Or Relationships=Authenticity! Or Relationships=Knowing and being know! If I can’t know you I can’t have a relationship with you, from the true sense of the word. I may be around you, we may do a bunch of stuff, we may even get much benefit from one another but we don’t have a relationship. Because we don’t have a relationship our commitment to one anothers development stops where we can no longer benefit from one another. That is why CEO’s and Managers, and Athletes, and even what we label friendships today are like revolving doors.  Sine I can’t receive any real benefit from you I no longer need you. Because this is only about how you benefit my selfish desires then that will be the extent of our relationship. If that sounds like a family then it is the epitome of dysfunctional!!!!!

So pastors by not allowing those whom they shepherd to see failure,  to give insight to their lives, to not let them see you lose it with the kids, argue with your wife, to not allow them to see that no, you don’t have all the answers (unlike our good brother Hannegraf), to not allow them to see you struggle and to keep your distance both relationally, and from even opening your life for accountability and constructive criticism on this journey, or in other words, to make it seem like you have arrived (though Paul says I “press”), is to force the congregation you are responsible for shepherding to also relate in the same way. The brokenness, the struggles, the burdens, the late nights, the fear of unanswered prayer, and the real wrestle with Jesus and all He is, is what your congregation needs to see.  You really do set the tone, especially today in the world where our pastors are second only to celebrities.

Its funny (as in odd) to me that a pastor wakes up one day and just walks away from it all. I have actually seen this praised by those in the House Church as burn out is the mark of one “really seeing the light”. However if this catches his congregation by surprise there is some intrinsically wrong. That wrong is that this pastor has perpetrated the Game Show Host shepherdship that plagues many churches today. Again and that is why in many of churches, husbands and wives smile every Sunday and sing the songs, and hold hands and rub each other back and next week they have different apartments. This is why a parent has to surprise the congregation with the news that their son is in rehab, that they are about to lose their home, that they are separating because the husband has been caught too many times with pornography, or that they are embarrassed because their oldest daughter just moved in with her lesbian lover!

Sunday after Sunday we listen to nice sermons and sing Christ Centered songs and we are dying at alarming rates. People are leaving their fellowships, they hate one another, they are looking for the first reason to leave and that is because the Church is not a loving family struggling through life together but a Masquerade where all the masks are smiling faces and pretty clothes.

I close with this. If you are a pastor or aspiring to be a pastor I have some words of wisdom. Your congregation needs to know you and you need to know them. If you find yourself more comfortable at a “shepherd’s” conference around other church leaders than those whom should be your family that is a problem. If you feel more comfortable with the church leadership than you do with the new disciple that is a problem. If you would rather hide your life behind your sermons, pulpit and authority versus spend your life loving, serving and being held accountable by the newest of Christian, then that is a problem. You may be a really good bible teacher, you may know theology really well, you may even be a good leader from the world’s perspective (many church leaders today) but you are not a shepherd. You are only contributing to a problem that seems to make Christianity a thing to do on Sunday or a set of beliefs to regurgitate but not be lived. You are inviting people to the masquerade and they will only continue to dress up and wear the mask and community will be more elusive as ever.

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This is not a post to minimize or degrade the work of a Pastor. At all! But it is a genuine post about things I wrestle with. Especially as of lately (6 months or so maybe 9 months). As I struggle through what it means to be a Christian, how I am to live as a Christian and how I am to live and serve with others who are Christian, I usually end up with more questions than answers. Most of those questions is due to what I was taught to believe and why I should believe it. One of those questions that keep coming up is leadership within Christianity. Notice I didn’t say local church. Paul was an Apostle in Galatia just as he was an Apostle in Ephesus. So again I am trying to blend what happened in scripture to what happens today. So I have drafted some questions, or thoughts, ramblings, and such. If you are a pastor, was a pastor or desire to be a pastor I would love to hear from you.

1. What makes you a pastor?

2. Why should I submit to you as a pastor?

3. Are you just a pastor in the church you are in or in other churches also? If so how?

4. As a pastor what is your job?

5. Why did you decide to become a pastor?

I ask those questions genuinely. Here is why. Today there are many people who call themselves pastors and they use the bible as their defense. The problem is they don’t become Pastors (I use that interchangeably with Elders because that is the norm today) the way the bible sets up pastors. In 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul goes and tells Timothy and Titus to select elders to lead those congregations. They were actually commissioned by Paul. Who commissions such a task today? I guess I am asking who appointed the person who appointed you and can you trace back to those Timothy and Titus selected? If not then why should you be a pastor?

The next two questions are why should I submit to you? Or better yet why shouldn’t you submit to me? Is it more bible knowledge? Today in 99.9% of Reformed or Bible circles that is the answer. Seminary separates the haves from the have nots or the leaders from the nonleaders. But the question again is why should I or anyone else submit to you? And what if we decide not to? I am not against seminary as I think it enlightens many towards the great doctrines of God. The next question is what if a Pastor from another church comes in to your church? Do you submit to him? If not why? Should I submit to an elder from another congregation that isn’t associated with mine? Isn’t an Elder in the Church of God in Christ an elder in the Baptist church since we are one “universal” Church?

4. The next question is what is your job as a Pastor? Is it what the church that pays you draw up as a job description? What do you do that makes you a pastor or better yet is what you do make you a pastor or is it your “position” or “office’ that make you do what you do? Would you do what you do if it were not in your job description or if you weren’t paid to do it? By the way why should you get paid? What is it that you do, that other Christians should do and if nothing why aren’t they paid for it? Shouldn’t we pay Sunday School teachers and other Christians who visit sick Christians and study their bible and pray for the church and teach other Christians? What exactly do you do or don’t do for that matter that makes you a pastor?

5. Finally what makes you a pastor? Did someone tell you that? Was it some warm and fuzzy feeling that made you say “I want to get paid to be a Christian”? Did someone in school convince you of this? Was it someone at your church that convinced you that you should do this “professionally” and go to school to validate it? Did people come to you and say “hey we want you to be our leader”? Did you take the initiative in becoming a pastor? Did your church nominate you due to your work of service there? Or did a group of elders like the amount of information you had and suggested you take the next step? Why do you do what you do? Would you do it all for free (like Jesus LOL).

Again these are genuine questions as I discern God’s call on my life. I don’t know if I should be a pastor or if I shouldn’t. I have been told I should go to seminary in one group of churches because of my passion in other churches (Charismatic circle) I took Jesus and holiness seriously (I was quite the legalist and still can be, got to put that dude under the cross) so they would prophesy over me and say I will be a preacher one day. I guess we all come to this crossroads and wanted to know from you: when, where, why and how!

I guess I see no real reason to “become” a pastor officially but I see many reasons to pastor functionally. I see no real reason to do this professionally when I can do this function while holding a normal job, thus having more opportunities to pastor more people. I see no special calling other than a gifting to shepherd but this again seems more functional to me. Other than the great burden of serving others like Jesus: washing their feet, healing them, feeding them, protecting them even at the cost of one’s own life, and a “desire” (as Paul writes) to do such a thing, I don’t understand why anyone would want this task.

So pastor! What makes you a pastor really if it is Jesus is it revocable? Is Jesus an Indian (excuse the word) giver? I anticipate your responses.

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I wonder today if we have redefined biblical terms. I believe that we have. Case in point “pastor”. I go on websites and listen to guys and I wonder how in the world do they call themselves pastors. Now I do want you to understand that the bible doesn’t call individuals pastors, only Christ as far as I can tell, but there are people who are gifted to function in “shepherding”.

This will be quick, but let me explain something to you. If those in your care can’t touch you, they don’t know you, you don’t know them, there is no relationship, there is no personal care and concern, if this person dropped dead tomorrow and you don’t know about it, if you don’t know their families and they don’t know yours other than by face and name, if there is no mutual edification, if they love your teaching more than you, and your only interaction with them is an expository sermon, you are not “pastoring”. I want to make that clear and call people to the table.

There are way too many broken sheep. Way too many wandering sheep, way too many upside down families, way too many wounded sheep in the Church today to call what we do today “pastoring”. I will say this again, you aren’t pastoring. You may be doing something else but it ain’t pastoring. If those you are “pastoring” spend more time in your books than with you, then you aren’t pastoring. We need to start calling a spade a spade. We are doing a lot of stuff today, but I don’t even think it is Church as described in the scriptures. I will leave it at that. But I am getting way too many phone calls, there are way too many broken marriages, and burden-ladened Christians that I come in contact with to call what we call shepherding. No they aren’t going to come to you or the other elders, because they have no relationship with them. Most of these gentleman are figure heads, not relational elders. Okay that was it. But if people can’t come to you because they don’t know you or you are too busy stuck at conferences and writing books then please stop calling yourself a pastor you are confusing way too many people with that title. Find a new word.

>>>>>>>>>>Updated with BLD’s Comment<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

You are a pastor when:

1. People address you as one after you’ve been serving them constantly and consistently and your response is “Hey, I’m just your brother in Christ.”

2. People attempt to give you money for what you’ve done for them and you can immediately suggest a better person/place for them to give it.

3. Your happiest moments are people saying, “I’m praying for you” rather than “You are really anointed!”.

4. Your service to others is driven by their needs and not their creeds.

5. You’re willing to lose everything because you realize you have nothing to lose.

6. You see yourself as equally needful of the grace of Christ as you see everyone else.

7. You belong to the people who see you as their’s.

8. You cease seeing yourself as “on the clock”.

9. People call on Christ for spiritual needs before they call on you because that’s who you’ve pointed them to.

10. You see yourself as a trumpet in God’s hand and your only desire is for the Spirit to blow!

Not in that particular order but……

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