Rethinking "Clergy/Laity" – Priesthood of Pastors? (pt. 5)

With the idea that professional Christians function as Christian priests comes an emphasis on the “office” of pastor.  You see this in Protestant churches with the frequent requirement that the pastor must baptize new believers and administer the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper/Communion.  There is a glorification of the office over the person.

When I read the New Testament, I see leadership titles (deacon, elder, pastor, etc.) as descriptive rather than prescriptive.  Merely because someone is ordained, has graduated from seminary, or  has received their magical “call to ministry” does not indicate they have the gifts to lead and shepherd a church body.  In fact, I know a man who is not even a member of a church who considers himself a pastor because he is ordained and came forward as a young man to surrender to “the ministry.”

“To say that a Wandering Levite who has no Flock is a Pastor, is as good sense as to say, that the man who has no Children is a Father, and that the man who has no Wife is a Husband.”

– Increase Mather, The Order of the Gospel

A pastor is someone who pastors!  A title, ordination, or seminary degree does not make someone a pastor (I can call myself an athlete but the sad fact is that in two years of junior high basketball I scored more points for the opposite team than for my own).  Education can give one tools to be a better pastor.  An ordination can publicly recognize one’s gifts to teach and lead.  The title “pastor” does not magically give someone gifts or leadership qualities that they did not already have.

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