January 6, 2011

What is the Role of the Pastor?

What is the role of the pastor? This topic has garnered quite a bit of attention around the blogosphere as of late.  I first came across a post by Gavin Richardson on how congregational perception of the pastor's role has changed over the course of church history.  Gavin suggests that the early church was marked by pastors as theologians.  And this was probably the case up into the Enlightenment period.  As the 20th century came along, the role of the pastor transitioned into being percieved as that of a Christian counselor.  Even more recently, it would seem that congregations want an entrepreneur for a pastor, someone who can build the organization.  Gavin's conclusion is that many of us simply don't know what role we think a pastor should have, and I think he may be on to something.

I then discovered this article by Gerald Hiestand over at First Things: On the Square.  Gerald is calling for pastors to take up, once again, the mantle of resident theologian.  He is particularly interested in seeing pastors take up this role by taking up their pens in order to theologically shape the wider church.  I indicated earlier this week that I am quite sympathetic to Gerald's view and hope that many pastors will respond to this call.   

Just today Scot McKnight has responded to Gerald's article with a number of important questions.  Scot's response is sympathetic and irenic, but he seems to think pastors are probably more theological than Gerald gives them credit for.  Gerald helpfully responds in the comments to Scot's post. 

This is an important issue that needs some extended discussion.  What do you think?  What is the role of the pastor?  Is the pastor a theologian, CEO, counselor, all of the above, or something else entirely?  How does scripture shape your understanding of the pastor's role? 

1 comment:

Isaac said...

This conversation is a very timely and important one. Just a few weeks ago I was invited into a conversation about the role of "worship leaders" int he church. The ultimate conclusion of the folks driving that conversation? That worship leader's are the primary theologians of the church.

I disagree wholeheartedly with this conclusion, but I think it illustrates your point (and that of Heistand) that the church is simply confused over what the role of a pastor truly is. And pastors (generally speaking; present company excluded) are at least partially to blame for this.

I am glad to see that others are concerned with this as well.