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In my previous post we began to speak on the word 'laity' which essentially in the bible is derived from the word 'laos' which means 'people, people of a certain group or tribe.' I concluded by saying that in reality the bible seems to point to the fact that we are all 'laity' or the people of God. Biblically it seems to appear that this term is not used to denote the difference between an educated person within a specific field i.e., the theologically educated clergy as opposed to non-theologically educated people to which the term 'laity' is used for.
We are all 'laity' BUT within this group of people belonging to God, we do have different roles that are geared toward one goal, which is, increasing the kingdom of God. At least this is the ideal.
I begin with the role of the pastor. This post is a bit longer than what I normally put out but please stick with it. Three things I want to point out before continuing. First this is not an exhaustive nor complete exposition on the topic, but a start to perhaps get us thinking and initiate dialogue. Second, once again I understand that I'm not, by any means, the first to write on this topic nor the last. I welcome as always your input, this is what Bathos (this blog) is about, going deeper. Thirdly, what we want to do here in this post is set a biblical foundation for pastoral role and how it can be applied in real life. With that said here we go...
The running joke on pastors is that they work once a week and play golf the rest of the week. If only that were true my golf game would be a whole lot better.
Biblical foundation (short version:-)
The bible points out specifically the role of a pastor. The apostle Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God has appointed some to be apostles, some to prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. Interestingly enough the word 'pastor' in this text is used 18X in 17 verses in the New Testament. It carries the main meaning of a 'shepherd' but also metaphorically means one who is the director of an assembly, such as a church.
In John 10:11 Jesus Himself says, "I am the good Shepherd..." Again, using the same word as Paul does in Ephesians 4:11. NOW interestingly enough as churches were being planted in the book of Acts this term is never used that I can find (if you do let me know:-). Paul states that 'Elders (greek=presbyteros) should be appointed, see for example Acts 14:23. This particular word is used 66 times in the New Testament. It should be noted that the words, 'elder/bishops' in the bible are used interchangeably to essentially denote someone that is the leader of a church the specific word 'pastor' is not used in this way except for Ephesians 4:11.
So what does this all mean? Well for one let's be honest if we read the bible the terms we use today are not being used in the same way in the bible. Today for the most part in church life elders are part of leadership but the pastor is seen as the visible leader of the church. In the book of Acts the appointed 'Elders' were one can say the pastors of the church. I would venture to say that 'Elder' in the early church (such as the book of Acts) were seen to some extent as the 'pastor's' of the church.
Applying it today:
With that said what is the role of the pastor/elder of the church? For one Ephesians 4:11 seems to suggest that at least part of the role is to: 1. prepare God's saints for works of service 2. so that the body will be built up 3. in order to reach unity in the faith, knowledge in the Son of God and become mature 4. in order to attain to the fullness of Christ. WOW a lot is said there!
So for one 'pastors/elders' are to empower/train the church for all kinds of service. I guess that would make the pastors role more than a 1X a week job! Why? Well an essence just this one point I would venture to say entails a whole lot in today's world, because there is so much service to do!
A few ways that pastors prepare God's people for service:
1. Preaching- We must never under estimate the bringing of the word of God! Any good preacher will challenge, teach, encourage and empower through the speaking of God's word to lead people to serve. In order to do this effectively one must spend time in study! Yes study! On average preachers should spend at least 20 hours preparing their sermons if not more.
2. Leading- Michael Hyatt CEO of Thomas Nelson wrote an excellent post on 'Why Leaders Exist' and why do they exist? To create and lead change. Not simply for the sake of change but within the life of the church, change is created in order to continue to grow the kingdom God. This is NO 1 day a week task. To lead properly it takes time, patience to gather a team that will have a vision/mission and seek to fulfill it.
3. Bible studies- A given that pastors should be doing this. BUT we must teach others to do the same, by making sure we are doing it first!
4. Visiting- It's believed that pastors should visit their members and they should. Yet members should visit their pastors (who would have thought that?) and members should visit each other not just people they normally hang out with. This obviously includes all kinds of visits: hospital, jail, and nursing homes.
5. Planning- The old saying states, "Failing to plan is planning to fail" Though this can also be categorized under 'leading' nonetheless it deserves it's own place. Planning is essential in order to prepare and help members to serve.
The practical reality is that the pastor/shepherd/elder is one who is overseeing a church (regardless of denominational affiliation, size, or beliefs) which is an organization that should be empowering it's members in different ways in order to serve not just internally but obviously externally in order that the organization will mature and expand (the kingdom of God of course!).
Obviously I'm speaking as a pastor, and in today's era pastors are not looked upon as they were some time ago. Many times they are looked down upon, criticized and frowned upon. Yet in all this there is a key element that must be remembered and it comes directly from the word of God that I mentioned above. Ephesians 4:11says again "And He (God) gave some..." In other words the bible believes and highly values the role of the pastor within the 'laity' or people of God, for it's God himself who gives it to His church! So pastors believe you are appointed as one among the 'laity' with a serious, strong, leadership role that the bible calls 'elder/presbyter/shepherd/pastor'. It's one of extremely high responsibility before the One, for He gave you to the church.
Yet the role of the rest of the 'laity' and/or church is one that we will turn to next...you will without a doubt want to read that next post:-)
So what do you think of the biblical terminology? What do you believe is the role of the pastor?