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Pastor Needed

June 2, 2017

Five years ago an author made the claim that he could not find the pastor in the New Testament. This says more about that author’s reading skills than the actual content of the New Testament. Just this week a blogger on a large, conservative Christian website announced that only one passage in the Bible mentions the role of the pastor. I’ll charitably assume he doesn’t have access to Strong’s Concordance. In fact, no less than five passages in the New Testament were written for the specific purpose of instructing the church about the role and character of the pastor. At least one book was addressed to the pastor of a church, two others written to men who would be appointing pastors, two other books include special instructions to the pastor of the church, another is probably written to the pastor and all seven of Jesus’ personal letters to the churches of Asia Minor were addressed to the pastors of those churches. Whether you call him a pastor, a shepherd, a bishop or an elder, the office of pastor is found throughout the New Testament.

A healthy church must have a pastor. For some this may seem obvious, but modern technology and the internet culture have combined to produce a phenomenon impossible prior to this generation. Any church in America can stream into their church service live broadcasts of America’s most popular preachers. Thus the in-house pastor is rendered obsolete. He is completely unnecessary to the health of the local church. Except for a few little unimportant things like personal visitation, fervent prayer for the members of the church, Godly counsel, individual care for the believer’s soul and loving confrontation, the local church can get along perfectly well without a local pastor. (For those not well versed in the mysterious art of sarcasm, the preceding sentence was an example of it.)

Not every pastor has the intellectual gifting, oratorical skill and dynamic personality that Americans imagine is necessary to attract a large following today. The last time I checked the Bible does not require the pastor be a powerful speaker who captivates large crowds by his impressive words. God gave pastors to the churches for the edification of the believers and the evangelization of the lost. He is to be an able teacher, but the New Testament definitively refuses to sanction the popular confusion of the ability to teach with impressive oratory. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5;1 Thessalonians 2:3-6)

When Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave gifts to men. The four gifts He gave to His church include the pastor-teacher (which, by the way, highlights the inseparability of the role of pastor from the obligation to teach). The pastor was given by Jesus to His bride to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. All the saints should be edifying and equipping one another, but the pastor is uniquely gifted by God to equip the church. God specifically and specially gifts certain men to shepherd the local body of Christ. The ministry of the pastor is essential.

The pastor is more than the guy in the pulpit most weekends. The pastor does far more than preach messages to the church every Sunday. He preaches and teaches as part of a church body. The pastor is a member of a church. He is a digit, a follicle, an organic member of the body who possesses an integral relationship to every other member of the church.

The pastor is not just the figure in the pulpit. He is not just the administrative head of the affairs of the church. He is not just the chairman of business meetings. He is a member of the church, the undershepherd of Gd’s flock in a specific location. A body without a head may continue to function for a while, Like a decapitated chicken it will flutter and run with all the appearance of life, but if the condition is not quickly remedied the shepherdless church will falter and fall headlong into Satan’s cooking pot.

Whether you think the pastor is the more comely member or the least comely, his gifts are essential to the completion of the body. He is not a talking head disconnected from the body. He is vitally connected to every person in the church. Divorce the pastor from that relationship, replace him with an icon and the church is disfigured.

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