JOINING THE REVOLUTION
I read another article on the decline of the pastoral ministry and the hardship that pastors are experiencing. I am sensitive to such articles, in part, because of what has happened to me while trying to be faithful to my calling. You can see the article here
Part of the problem is that we have turned pastoral ministry into a job rather than a calling. Churches speak of hiring a pastor instead of calling a pastor. We manage to pervert what God has created. It is the inclination of our fallen nature to pervert the things of God, which is why we must spend much time before God in prayer and repentance. By turning the pastoral office into a job related career instead of a calling, we reject our accountability before God for the call and gifts of pastoral ministry that he has given us. Instead we put emphasis our cleverness and our winning personality, something very far from the humble office envisioned in Scripture like 1 Peter 5 or 1 Timothy 3. There is no doubt that pastoral ministry is a burden, but it is Christ who bears us up under that burden. But by rejecting the foundations of our ministry, the calling from God, our spiritual gifts of ministry, we make the burden unmanageable. How can God bless us and hold us up if we will not do it God’s way? We pastors give in to what the linked article called the Church as Industrial Complex and removes our need to be accountable to God for our ministry. Notice what Donald Bloesch wrote regarding our calling as pastors:
The history of the church provides ample documentation that authority can be shared only to a certain extent, that finally one person must stand before God and be accountable for the people he or she represents. The modern idea of the democratic family where decisions are made on majority vote means that parents in fact abdicate their authority as parents. Likewise the pastor who receives his call directly from God and indirectly from the congregation is answerable first of all to God and then to the congregation. He is not a sounding board for the congregation, but a pastoral guide, a spiritual director. And in a team ministry one spiritual director will have the final say…–Bloesch, D. G. (2001). Is the Bible Sexist? Beyond Feminism and Patriarchalism (p. 58).
It is a fact that if you compare the typical modern church to the New Testament church, it is clear that very few real churches exist. You can blame it on pastors, denominationalism, and most of all church members who refuse to abide by what the New Testament tells us about the Christian life and about the nature of the church. The church is not an American, European, or third world movement. The church is transnational and trans-cultural. The church is a community, (even a nation, in a spiritual sense) founded by Christ and ruled by Christ and exists for His purpose. The orientation of the church is heavenward and the future completion of the Kingdom of God.
Pastoral ministry should never be weighted down by current culture and worldliness. We are called to repentance from worldliness and return to Godliness. If there was ever a need for a resistance movement, it should be pastors who plant their feet on the firm foundation of Scriptural authority that constantly points to Christ, and lead in the direction of heaven no matter how our lives are threatened. Churches that continue to resist Christ will die and that can be clearly seen right now—most American churches are dying.
Pastors are their own worst enemies. Pastor gatherings become a place to brag about “numbers and successes.” Pastors count “noses and nickels” to measure their pecking order among pastors. It often comes a praise report of how wonderful God is (meaning how great I am) because we had so many baptisms or raised so much money or had so many in attendance. Such thinking is, at best, pagan and demeaning to the ministry. What should be happening is mutual support and praying for each other.
Celebrity pastors and celebrity churches are but symptoms of how far the church has fallen. We are not called to be like our pastoral heroes. Pastoral hero-worship will destroy your pastoral ministry and result in destroying God’s church. We need to repent. We need to look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” and follow him. So, if the pastor is to suffer, let him suffer for doing right, for following Christ, for upholding the biblical standard.