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a pastor's role

ever since i returned from my studies in d.c. i have been overwhelmed with "church work." you understand there is a profound difference between "church work" and "the work of the church." church work has to do with management, details, structures, etc. the work of the church is making disciples for Jesus Christ.

elders in the united methodist church are ordained to "word, sacrament, order, and service." this summer was the fifth anniversary of my ordination as elder, and that reality combined with my new studies have led me to explore exactly what it is that i am ordained to do.
word: preaching the gospel. bringing the people of God a word from the Lord.
sacrament: the awesome responsibility and privilege of dispensing the sacraments of baptism and communion.
order: the authority to lead the congregation.
service: the exercise of pastoral authority is shown through servant leadership, as Jesus showed us by washing the disciples' feet.

unfortunately, there is no "wesleyan quadrilateral" which defines which of the four is most important (methodist doctrine can be summarized in a very simple way by saying scripture, reason, tradition, and experience all work together to help us live out our faith). of those four, scripture is regarded as primary. of word, sacrament, order, and service none is primary, as far as i know. as a point of reference, deacons in the united methodist church have full clergy rights, but are only ordained to word and service.

so here am i, sitting in my office, reading email, taking phone calls, trying to put out fires, and at the same time knowing i have sermons to prepare and papers to write for my studies. not to mention working to achieve God's vision for trinity church. so how am i to spend my time? is there a difference between being a manager and a pastor? is it a good or bad thing that many pastors views themselves as the ceo of the congregation? am i to live out my call to ministry by compiling statistical reports and organizing committees?

while i was a pastor in england i went to a training event where the leader cautioned us about running everything. he said that was a sure recipe for burnout. he advised us to discern the one aspect of ministry we do best, and do that excellently. let the other things take care of themselves. for me, that best thing is preaching. it is why i am going back to seminary to learn more about the craft. God did not call me to be an average preacher-- God expects better of me (and all of us--whatever that area is for us).

i have not found an answer in this rambling, but i wanted to put the issue out there as a forum for discussion. what is the role of the pastor in a congregation? what are the expectations of the members? what does the denomination say? is there a difference between corporate models for leadership and those that exist in the church?


Anonymous said…
Being the CEO is okay, but not too many "employees" get a feeling of true concern on the part of a CEO for their struggles which includes their struggle to stay connected to GOD when it seems GOD has abandoned them. When a pastor is too busy being the CEO and lets one sheep be lost, then the pastor is not following Jesus's words.
Lorna said…
trying to put out fires ... mmm ... wasn't it Wesley who said allowyourself to be set on fire, and ppl will come for miles to see you burn (with love for God)

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