Last week I introduced the subject of the pastoral system. The truth is, many churches have established a single leader for the church. Before we start saying, ďonly our denominational friends have pastoral systemsĒ we need to do some serious soul searching to assure that is not the case where we worship. Just because we donít call our preacher the pastor, does not mean that we havenít established a pastoral system. The name is not the only thing that identifies that system.
As I mentioned last week, a pastoral system is a system that expects one person to do the work of shepherding, evangelism and administering. The reality is that those are three different jobs. Elders shepherd. Deacons administer. Preachers evangelize. Three different ďtitles.Ē Three different jobs. And three different sets of requirements for those jobs. Anytime we start to give all three jobs to one man we have created a pastoral system. Even if we call him our minister, preacher, evangelist, etc.
Over the years I have seen job descriptions when churches have advertised for a preacher position and I have seen on several occasions a church looking for a pastor. They are looking for a person that preaches, leads, teaches, visits, and is at their beckon call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. (Keep in mind that most men would deem that unreasonable for their professions.)
But is it really so bad? What does it matter if we have a pastoral system established? Last week I introduced 2 basic dangers. First it was not a part of Godís plan,. Secondly, it placed an unhealthy burden upon the preacher. Today I want to share with you a another danger of the pastoral system.
It Stifles the Growth of the Church
Let me be honest here, the times in which I grow the most are the times when I am forced to spend in the word. At least half of the sermons I preach each year are written because I needed to study that subject. They were useful for my personal growth and I thought that they would be useful for your personal growth as well. And let me not forget to mention the bible classes I prepare. If you come to the bible classes you know that I have been preparing our own workbooks for Sunday mornings. These donít magically come together. They are a result of months of preparation BEFORE we even start studying the book together. This type of studying gives me a fuller understanding of the subject matter; be it an epistle, gospel, or some other subject. I donít just learn academically with this type of preparation. I learn Godís will on a much deeper level. By doing this work I grow.
This can be said about any work which a person engages in. The more I do personal bible studies, the more I grow. The more I visit with a new convert the more I know that person. The more I visit with anyone the more my relationship grows with that person. And the more I serve, the more I desire to be a servant. It is just the way our hearts are programmed.
A church that expects the preacher to do everything is robbing themselves of personal growth. One of my first works was this type of situation. When I first met the saints they talked about how they didnít want a slave. They talked about how they wanted someone to help lead them in evangelism, services, etc. Everything sounded so wonderful. When it came to actual practice, the wonder changed. I began to wonder how they pulled a wool over my eyes. It didnít matter what evangelistic path I chose, I rarely found support. Door knocking, radio programs, mailings, group bible studies, etc they all were systematically rejected. After 2.5 years of laboring with them, I actually saw them digress. Sure, one might argue that the preacher didnít do a good enough job. However, when you start hearing things like, we pay the preacher for that, it ceases to be on the preacher.
Rather than growing they continued to sputter about. They didnít great visitors, they got agitated if the preacher spent too much time talking with visitors. And they rarely visited those that needed visiting. I recall one brother in Christ whose wife nearly died had one person visit him. The preacher. I am thankful his faith didnít waiver, but it made me truly wonder why they thought having a preacher meant.
Brethren, just because the preacher is doing a work, doesnít mean that you are. You need to get your hands in the work as well. It is vital for your own spiritual growth. (Continued Next Week) -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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The Danger of the Pastoral System part 2
Volume 6 Issue 38