When developing a biblical understanding of pastoral ministry, it would be great if we were simply describing the natural reality in every church. Sadly and realistically this is not the case. Why not? Here are a handful of reasons a shepherding/equipping culture does not develop within the context of local churches.
- The tyranny of the urgent: Why do the urgent things get our attention? They are easier to recognize and you can show immediate results. They have the illusion of success and they are often-times easier to quantify.
- A theology that does not have a robust doctrine of sanctification. Without an understanding of the need for daily growth in grace, face-to-face ministry will fall by the wayside for “more important” activities like missions, worship, preaching, evangelism.
- Distorted images of the pastoral office. Glenn Wagner has this to say in his book, Escape From Church, Inc.
If God has called us to be leaders, then the priority becomes goals, objectives, and the bottom line.
If God has called us to be managers, then our priority becomes structure, systems, order, and keeping everything under control.
If God has called us to be CEOs, then our priority becomes developing a vision and issuing directives.
If God has called us to be shepherds, then our priority becomes caring for, feeding, and correcting the sheep.
This is not to say that leading, managing and casting vision are not a part of pastoral ministry. The real issue is what role is most prominent.
- Traditional seminary training: typically, most seminaries focus on languages, church history, systematic theology, biblical theology, apologetics and preaching. These are all very good and important but in most seminaries, there are no classes on classical pastoral theology. Intelligent ministry to hurting sheep rarely gets much time in the classroom. Ministers graduate and unless they are naturally relational, they are ill-equipped to disciple and counsel people facing real daily struggles.
How would you evaluate your church and the specific hindrances to a shepherding/equipping paradigm? How can these hindrances be addressed in a way that evidences humility which leads to true corporate change?
Copyright © 2013 Tim Lane. All rights reserved.