Monday, August 15, 2011

My Growing Skepticism of the Modern-Day Role of the Pastor

Yesterday at church was a great day. We dedicated over 16 children. We baptized 6 people (almost 80 for the year) who were making public professions of faith in Christ. We had one service and the building was jammed packed! It was an incredible day. 

However, my day continued on into the afternoon. I had three meetings that afternoon with people from the church. One meeting was with a new couple who attends the church and the Lord is working on their hearts in phenomenal ways. They are wanting to honor the Lord with their relationship and were asking for accountability. The second meeting was with a man in his fifties who for the first time in his life, the gospel is making sense to him. He wanted to know how to draw closer to the Lord and truly give his life to Christ. We talked about seeking the Lord fervently and with desperation. The third meeting I had was with a lady who had tremendous trials and tribulations in her life over the last few years. She was inquiring as to how she could walk through those things in faith and know that the Lord is with her. We had such a good time of searching the truths of Scriptures and seeing how God can turn trials into blessings. I left these three meetings feeling truly used by God to help people apply the gospel to their lives.

Why do I mention these meetings? What is the point I am aiming for in this post? The answer is this: I see the meetings that I had in the afternoon equally as important as the services that happened in the morning. 

In the world of pastoral leadership and church discussions, one of the major questions asked and raised is whether the pastor can be hands on with the congregation he leads and the church still grow. In others words, can a church keep growing and reaching people if the pastor is still assessable to the congregants?   Most involved in this conversation say "no." Most do not think that a pastor can remain involved in the meetings about salvation, premarital counseling, and other type meetings and the church still grow to reach a lot of people. I am not saying that this is a false assertion, but I do have my doubts and points of skepticism. Where does my skepticism come from?

One of the things I enjoy doing is reading. I read a lot of books. Most of the books I read are theology books and things concerning the Christian life. My favorite books are the one's that have been written by dead people. I love old books, particularly the Puritans, and those who are Puritan-influenced. One of the things that I have noticed when I read these old pastors is that they frequently visited with and met with their congregants. They met with them over all sorts of issues. They met with them despite how big their congregation was. Richard Baxter visited every one of his thousand plus congregants in a year's time. Ichabod Spencer had Sunday night inquiry meetings where people would flood his home and he would meet with and answer questions for hours. In addition to Sunday night inquiry meetings, he made weekly house calls to congregants and those seeking the way of salvation. 

When I read things like, this and then I think about what popular wisdom and opinion in our church culture today has become, I question whether they were ignorant of the ways to really grow their church or whether we are ignorant of what it means to be pastors. 

I desire to be available to the congregation I lead. I know that it cannot be completely dependent upon me and that there will be limitations to my availability to every person. However, I wrestle over the popular opinion that pastors have to limit their involvement with only a select few in order for the church to grow. I cannot escape the thought that as a pastor, I am called to walk with anxious souls concerning the way of salvation, and that goes beyond preaching to them on Sunday mornings. 

These are just some things on my heart and mind right now. What are your thoughts on this? What do you make of the popular opinion today of the role of pastors? Do you believe the Puritan-model is more biblical? Do you believe there is a middle ground? 

Subscribe to this blog by using the links to the right. Share this post with others you believe it could help by using the buttons below.


  1. Great post man. I echo your thoughts and concerns about the modern church. I too enjoy the individual time as much as the corporate preaching. Very thought provoking post. Not sure what the answer is but I like the question.

  2. I was thinking a lot about mentorship today and making disciples. If the Church had the mentality of "follow me as I follow Christ," we would be making more disciples, engaging in deep conversations with other believers more often, and growing at a steady pace. I think it is very important for the pastor (and leadership team) to be investing in the lives of the congregation, but at the same time, I think it is unfair to expect one person to speak to every single person, especially as the church grows. What if we were all engaging with each other regularly? Seeking counsel from Scripture and leaning not on our own understanding, but on God-given discernment? Don't get me wrong, I think that what Baxter did is amazing and I would absolutely LOVE to experience a meeting like the ones which met in Spencer's home - where people were packed in and had a bunch of questions and all came together as a community. But I think the Church will grow and be much more effective when disciples start making disciples and the Body of Christ relies not only on the pastor, who is ultimately shepherding the congregation, but on each other for support and prayer as well. I am so thankful for a leadership team that is heavily involved in the lives of the congregation and would love to one day see the congregation interact in the same way that Paul called the churches to act in his letters - as a community, more concerned with the interests and needs of the collective body than the individual. How revolutionary would it be if we all felt free to talk to each other and lived that intentionally with our relationships in the Church? At this point, I think I just wrote a book rather than answer the question. Ha. Sorry for the longevity of this post.