95 Theses for the American Church, Part 4: The Pastorate
On the Pastorate in the American Church
58. The elders and pastors of the church, as ministers of the gospel, are charged by Jesus to feed the sheep.
59. The trend within the American church of orienting the worship gathering around seekers while simultaneously demanding sheep “self-feed” is therefore a sin in need of repentance.
60. Leaders in the church must watch their life and their doctrine closely.
61. Leaders in the church must not remove themselves from the community life of the church, as if they are somehow, by office or giftedness, above it.
62. The pastors of the churches in American have ceased serving as their church’s resident theologian.
63. The qualities necessary for church leadership are clearly outlined in Scripture. These include self-control, ability to teach the Word, and gentleness.
64. The qualities most in demand in the American pastorate are frequently foreign to the qualities made most important in Scripture.
65. The professionalization of the pastorate is stunting the discipleship culture of the American Church. This is not to say that pastors should not receive pay for their service, only that the influence and predominance of professional business and marketing skills and “types” have overtaken the biblical office of church overseer so that the pastorate is more about management than it is about shepherding.
66. Churches should protect their pastor’s livelihood and integrity by both providing for his needs and lovingly demanding he feed them the Word.
67. The pastors who direct the church are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
68. The pastor who preaches not the incarnate Word in the revealed word, who teaches the satisfaction of good works (or anything but Christ) is serving dishonorably.
69. If any pastor preaches no gospel or a different gospel, let him be accursed.
70. The American pastor must repent of ambition.
71. The American Church must repent of its idolization of the celebrity pastorate.
72. The American pastor is right to seek to contextualize the gospel, but he must repent of the idolization of innovation and technology.
73. The American pastor must pastor more than he programs.
74. The American pastor must trust the Spirit, not statistics.
75. The American pastor must repent of the idolization of numbers and results.
76. The American pastor must above all be faithful to Christ, passionate about the gospel clearly articulated, devoted to the Word and the sacraments, and motivated by what is right, not what is expected, popular, or even productive.
(Tomorrow: 19 theses on “purpose.”)