Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What Do I Want In A Pastor

There is a lively debate going on in the Methoblogosphere.

Check out the original post,...the basic joke post, the follow-up post, and be sure to check out the comments

This is a tough subject for any pastor, because the truth is that the expectations of the congregation may not be all that far from those examples. This comes from the variety of people who have divergent expectations, and often the failure of the church to "own" their expectations of the pastor, or correct on a corporate level the competing expectations of the congregation.

I found Dr. Tony's quote helpful in his comments from the follow-up post.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. (Henry David Thoreau)
I share Brett Olson's concern for the clergy, and for what makes a good pastor. I think the basic premise of any pastor should be to "love the congregation". This is where the real rub of ministry begins to take shape, and may be fodder for a larger post later. Suffice it to say, that for now, what a congregation needs in the way of love, what a pastor can give in the way of love, and how that all takes life is where the inherent conflicts of congregations and pastors really come to fruition. I hope that in your congregation these can be ongoing conversations.

So then, rather than what I want in a pastor, let me share a little of what I expect of a congregation. As I said, I think Thoreau has it right, to an extent - let each go at the pace of the drummer he or she hears. This comes in Christian circles as the voice of the shepherd, who may be playing a flute, rather than a drum (though I can think of at least one hymn where the shepherd plays a drum, and here is an outstanding rendition).

I think Paul sums it up well in 1 Corinthians 12, that all are gifted in the Spirit, but there are different gifts. God's goal is that we use those gifts for the glory of the Kingdom. As such I expect a congregation and each congregant to want to discover their personal gifts for ministry, and to use them, explicitly, claiming the gift as one from God, and for the good of the whole body of Christ. I understand the body of Christ to go beyond the walls of the local church, and into the community and world, as Christ is already there, and our job is help people connect with the present Christ

The pastor is not the only one who is to go into the world, or do the ministry of the church, but to "equip the saints (those who proclaim Christ as their Lord and Savior) for the ministry of Christ." This means training and teaching, modeling, and practicing.

I'll be honest for a moment, I don't always get it right, and sometimes in the view of one member or another I may have misplaced my priorities, but I am always trying to train and teach, and be faithful to my understanding of the witness of Jesus Christ to a broken and hurting world today.



At March 11, 2008, Blogger Dr. Tony said...

Thanks for the kind words and the link. The Thoreau quote has always been one of my favorites.

For the record, I posted the joke after I read Jay's post.

In peace,
Dr. Tony


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