THE ROLE OF THE MODERN PASTOR
Pastor George W. Black
Confession: I am a victorious believer, redeemed by the Lord, washed from my sins in the blood of Jesus my Savior, saved by grace through faith, filled with the powerful Holy Spirit, poised for God’s eternal purposes, and boldly sharing the joy of God’s love, with my world.
I am a faith walking, Word talking, over-comer in this life. I am a Victor, not a victim. I can do, all things through Christ. Today, my mind is open and alert, and my heart is good soil, for the seed of God’s Word. I will be a diligent disciple, to apply its’ truths, for from this day forward, by the miracle of spiritual growth, I will never, ever, be the same again.
Introduction: The role of the modern pastor has become a complex one, filled with both corporate and church responsibilities that were never a part of this role in the early church. Because of the brokenness of families and individuals, and the high pressure of running a corporation as a part of leading a church family, many pastors today feel overwhelmed. Over 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month, and they are not being replaced at the same rate.
Add to this burden the fact that so many people today have deep wounds and hurts from the past. They come to our church already wounded…we did not wound them…we are not the ones that hurt them…but in order to make them useful partners in the ministry we have to touch their wounds to try and heal them. Very few will let you do this. They would rather blame you for their wound than receive your healing discipline and correction.
For example on Thanksgiving Day we had family over for dinner and one of my grandsons, Elijah, had an accident with his bike. He had accidently slipped off the pedal and his leg was lodged between the bike frame and the pedal. To remove his leg from this situation was an ordeal, because every time we tried to remove his leg, he screamed like bloody murder. We didn’t cause the problem. But it was our job to fix the problem, which involved a little pain. The leg was sprayed with cooking oil, the rear tire was removed so we could disengage the chain which was holding the brake and the pedal. Eventually his leg slid out from the painful situation and his tears dried up and all was well. As a matter of fact, he was riding the bike later that day. We were not his enemy, but he had to suffer through the removal process to gain his freedom.
These are the kinds of challenges a modern pastor has to face…people broken by bad parenting or no parenting, abusive relationships, drugs, alcohol, pornography, and the list goes on and on. Jesus can heal us, but He doesn’t wave a magic wand and everything is better. No, He asks us to submit to our spiritual leaders and do what they say…to imitate those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises. Not all wounds can be healed overnight. Some take long term therapy. But if we will receive the medicine, the cure can be obtained.
We are living at a turning point in the history of the church as we know it. It’s time to take another look at what the Bible says this important office should be.
Ephesians 4:11-12 NKJV “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”
1. The role of the pastor is an ascension gift ministry known as the 5-Fold Ministry Gifts. Jesus operated in all five of these ministry gifts, but His plan was to replace Himself with many others who would occupy these offices as a united team representing Him.
Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
- The role of the modern pastor is not the same in every situation. In a smaller church, the pastor is often expected to fill all five offices because of a lack of leaders and budget. In a larger church the opportunity to specialize involves more people.
While each of the 5-fold ministry gifts are separate gifts with a different functions, here is how the modern pastor is often asked to fulfil them.
Apostle – the founding pastor who has the ability to start a church, lay the foundation, train leaders, and make the church viable for the long term. Primary preacher the first years of the church. Later an occasional preacher to keep the church on point.
Prophet – the visionary pastor who points to the future, calling the church to purity and holiness, dispenses correction and discipline. Occasional preacher as needed.
Evangelist – the outreach pastor who gathers the lost, teaching the local church to do the same. Occasional preacher to keep the church motivated.
Pastor/Shepherd – the feeding pastor that cares for the sheep and makes disciples. Baby dedications, hospital visitation, weddings, funerals, most of the Sunday preaching.
Teacher – the training pastor who maintains the Christian education process and elevates the Bible teaching culture of the church.
- Timothy was appointed by the apostle Paul as the presiding or lead pastor (bishop) of the church at Ephesus. Paul’s instruction to Timothy helps us understand the responsibilities of the role of the pastor.
2 Timothy 2:1-5 NKJV “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
There were seven churches founded by the Apostle Paul in Asia Minor which is today modern Turkey. Asia Minor referred to the Roman province of Asia, not the entire continent. These seven major churches of Early Christianity, are mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation. In Revelation, on the Greek island of Patmos, Jesus Christ instructs his servant John of Patmos, through an angelic intermediary, to: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
Map of Turkey
Map of Ephesus
2 Timothy 2:1-5 gives us 4 parts of a modern pastors calling.
A. Gravity of a pastors calling –
NKJV “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”
MESSAGE “I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule”
B. Focus of a pastors calling –
NKJV “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
MESSAGE “so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.”
Acts 6:2-4 NLT “So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”
Acts 6:7 NLT “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”
C. Challenge of a pastors calling –
NKJV “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
MESSAGE “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages.”
D. Secret of a pastors calling –
NKJV “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry”
MESSAGE “But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.”
- The role of the modern shepherd/pastor is to follow the example of the original Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life to protect the flock (the church). Jesus said He was the gate to the sheep, and that only the shepherd of the sheep can use the gate to gain access to the flock. This is the protective role of the pastor.
John 10:11-14 ““I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant,7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”
- God wants every one of us to recognize our need of being a part of a “flock” (local church), and having a divinely called shepherd/pastor that leads us. If we can accept the role of our pastor as God’s shepherd, then we can go in through the gate and be a part of the flock.
Acts 2:47b NKJV “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
- How can a congregation help their pastor be successful? I will answer this in detail next week in Part Two, but here is something to wet your appetite.
Facebook Post from Nov 14: If you have a great pastor, don’t be a mediocre supporter. Be an Aaron/Hur that lifts their hands and helps them win the battle. Don’t be a begrudging follower. Get vocal and get loud. The pastors need to hear from you, but so do others.
A real pastor is like a fireman or a policeman in that they put their lives on the line every day for you and your church. They spend their lives to make yours better. The Bible says they should be esteemed highly for their works sake. Do you esteem your pastor highly? There are always critics, but what about the silent majority that are grateful for the gift God has given them, but maybe just forgot to let them and others know how you really feel?
Post below how you have encouraged your pastor(s) lately, or how you plan to do so tomorrow, and the week ahead. I promise it doesn’t take much to make a big difference.
This is not about me. I am a pastor, but I am also called to care for pastors. This is about the 1,500 pastors that leave the ministry every month because they did not feel the support of those they were called to serve. In my heart I feel there are way too many underappreciated pastors that are doing a really good job in a very difficult world, but may be discouraged and even thinking about starting over somewhere else. Don’t let your church be guilty of letting your pastor believe the lies of the enemy.
Pastors are not indestructible superheros…just redeemed people who surrendered to the call to serve God’s people. Help them blossom by starting a culture of honor in your church. Don’t wait another day. Start tomorrow.
God bless you.