Craig Barnes has written a wonderful book on the vocation of pastoring in his The Pastor as Minor Poet. While I intend to write up a more formal review, I thought I would take a few excerpts to reflect upon first.
I am convinced we have a crisis of definition in the evangelical pastoral world. We don’t know – and I include pastors in this – what a pastor does or what his or her role is in a church or society. That might come off as a little over the top, but I grow more convinced of it all the time. Barnes notes:
The hardest thing about being a pastor today is not the long hours, the demanding congregations, the eclectic responsibilities, the fishbowl existence, or the relentless return of Sundays. Those who have taken the vows of ordination have long shouldered all of that as the yoke of Christ. But only within the last two generations have the clergy been forces to bear an additional burden that is far from light – confusion about what it means to be the pastor. (pg. 4)
And I think it only gets worse the more churches give into the pressures of becoming part of the entertainment culture our congregations live the rest of their lives in. This add the pressure of the unquenchable thirst for “more” and for amusement at every turn. The church is something different, and the pastor is someone different.
Most of the leadership models within the pastoral world are of no particular help at all. Barnes writes just a few paragraphs later:
Much of the current literature on leadership that is being taught in our seminaries has come from secular universities such as the Harvard Business School. It’s presented as if the principles of corporate management can easily be baptized for leaders o congregations. (pg. 5)
They can’t. Though churches balance budgets and pay bills they are primarily the work of Christ. And though pastors need to be comfortable reading and understanding balance sheets, they are not accountants or corporate leaders. They are primarily and always spiritual shepherds.
There is so much to say and to reflect upon.