Category Archives: What is a Pastor

Should Pastors be Paid?

This will be the last post of our “What is a Pastor” Blog Series and let me begin by saying this isn’t me pushing for a raise or anything. This is a issue that some people do have questions about. It is also an issue that is hard for most pastors to address because it looks like they are pushing for a raise. So let’s look at scripture.

Galatians 6:6 says: One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.

1 Corinthians 9:13-14: 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 says: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

It is fairly clear here that the church as a responsibility to care for those that minister in and through them. The church already has a responsibility to care for the needs of those among them but these verses raise the bar when it comes to leaders in the church. However, there are two abuses to this situation that are prevalent in the modern church. On one side the church often approaches compensation with the business mentality of “what is the least we can get away with paying them”. This doesn’t bless those that are ministering to you, that isn’t double honor. An extension of this is the idea that, many churches once held (though it seems less common now), the preacher should be kept poor and humble. Once, again this is dishonoring to a person that is sacrificing their life for God and others.
The other abuse I see is church leaders that take the pay and really haven’t earned it or expect the church to sacrifice to pay them but they don’t sacrifice for the church financially.
This is in direct contradiction to Paul’s example as he worked a secular job so as to not burden the ministry. 1 Thess, 2:9.

So in short, yes, a pastor should be provided for. However, it is important to note that that isn’t always in the form of a check. In modern day just giving the pastor a salary is probably the easiest way to provide for the pastor. However, there have been many times in history and in many situations where it would be easier to give the pastor produce, a house, a car, do his laundry, etc. instead of paying him money. Furthermore, some pastors may be bi-vocational or have a lucrative career and thus don’t need the money but the bible doesn’t say that you have to pay them but rather that you take care of them. So even though the pastor or church leader doesn’t have need of a salary they probably still could use other things. They could use help around the house, a baby sitter so he and his wife could have a date night, encouragement, a vacation, etc. Leading a church and pastoring people takes a lot of time and that is something that doesn’t change regardless of how much money they make or where it comes from. In short take care of your pastors and church leaders. So that they can help take care of you.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 2, 2015 in What is a Pastor


Who is a Pastor?

The next logical question to be answered in this series on “what is a pastor” is who fulfills the duties of a pastor in the church. We said in the last post that a pastor/teacher has two sides of responsibility. One side is that of the care giver and the other is that of the teacher. The pastor shapes the practical theology of the church as he teaches while giving care. For such guidance he is responsibly and has a great impact.

In the church there are three people or groups of people that are responsible for fulfilling the biblical duties of the pastor.

1) Lay Persons 
The spiritual gift of pastoring is not something given just to vocational ministers. God has given the gift of pastoring to people throughout the church. We can not expect one man to be the only stitches, and the only glue that holds the social and communal fabric of the church together. We are all called to care for those which we have relation with inside the church. John 13:35 states “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” But, there are those that are particularly gifted in this regard and it should be understood that those person’s means of servicing the community of faith is through pastoral care.

2) Elders
Biblically speaking the church is to be lead by a group of persons, not one man and not in a democratic system. Rather a group of elders is to be elected from the people to serve the church and lead the church. The tasks of this group of elders falls to the primary leadership of the church. One of the most significant roles of elders is to care for the people which are in that church. Acts 20:28 says to the elders “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” We see here further use of the shepherding metaphor.

3)Traditional Pastors
Last but not least is the role of the traditional pastor. I am not speaking of the biblical pastor here but the traditional use of the term pastor, that is to say the leadership of the church. Those in leadership have a responsibility to emulate Jesus and have compassion and concern for those he leads. This may not be his spiritual gift (as it isn’t in my case) but as leaders they must care for those the lead, this is what we call being a servant leader. In this 1 Peter 5:2-3 reminds us to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock”.

I hope we all see now that a pastor and the work of pastoring is not just the job of the guy that preaches but of several people from a congregation. It is in all of our best interests if we will use and work in our spiritual gifts and allow others and our leaders to do the same.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in What is a Pastor


The Job of a Pastor

The word Pastor is only found once in the English translation of the New Testament, and since we are talking of pastors of the church and the church didn’t start until the New Testament, that is the most direct reference we have to the position or gifting of a pastor. That being said the same Greek word is used several other times in the New Testament, but translated primarily as shepherd and mostly in reference to Jesus. The idea of a pastor of people is also found in the Old Testament but obviously is not directly addressing the Church. The one time this word is translated as “Pastor”is in  Ephesians 4 the very passage we have been discussing. So how are we to know what the actual qualities of a pastor are if it only appears in a list once in the bible. Well, we look for other passages that might have something to do with it based on what we know of the world pastor. The word pastor comes form the idea of shepherding or of a pastoral profession (i.e. livestock farming).

The two most helpful passages for our discussion are 1 Peter 5:1-3 and Acts 20:28.

1 Peter 5:1-3 states:
“Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

The word shepherd here comes from the same word pastor in Ephesians 4. So we see that a pastor is to care for those under his care as a shepherd would his sheep. An interesting point here in 1 Peter is that he addresses the body of elders over the church, and reminds them of their “pastoral” responsibility, not a single man.  We will discuss the place of elders/deacons in a later post but understand the elders are the leaders of the church the final authority of the workings of the church and as such are responsible to see that all of the commands to the church are observed not the least of which being care and concern for the individuals that comprise the community of the church.

The second reference that is particularly helpful in understanding the qualities of a pastor is Acts 20:28 which states:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God,which He purchased with His own blood.

We see the teacher aspect of the pastorship in this verse. The pastor may not be the preacher, he may not be a theologian, and he may not even be the primary teacher, but he is responsible for the spiritual teaching inside the church. The context of this verse speaks of people that will come to churches and teach things not in line with the bible that are ultimately harmful for the people of God. It is the pastor’s job to notice this and address the issue in what ever way would be necessary in the particular situation.

What these and other verses show us is that the pastor’s duties are two sided. One side is the traditional thoughts of a pastor. The compassionate care giver. The comforter in times of trouble, the chaplain, the counselor. This is the shepherd side of pastoral ministry. The pastor also has teaching responsibilities in that he will ultimately be responsible for the teachings that are propagated amongst  those he pastors.

This discussion of the Pastor is likely more complex then most of us realize. However, God has designed a beautiful system for the church to share responsibilities and duties so that each person and serve where they and be most effect and passionate.

If you missed the previous posts in this series you can find them below.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 20, 2015 in What is a Pastor


The Gifts of a Pastor

This is part two of our blog series “What is a Pastor”. In this post we will look more closely at the listing of authoritative gifts in Ephesians 4:11-12 a list that includes pastors and teachers.

In the modern church we call any person that leads a local church a pastor. However, as we will be seeing,  just because a person leads a church, or doesn’t lead a church, doesn’t mean that they are, or aren’t, a pastor. There are actually 5-6 people, positions, or gifts that fall under what we call a pastor today. One person won’t have all of these gifts, positions or callings, and thus we must both expand and specify our understanding of what it means to be a pastor.

In Ephesians 4:11-12 we see all but one of these positions.  

“And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ. ”

As we discussed in the last post the discrepancy in number comes from the debate over weather pastors and teachers are one or two gifts. The one that is not included in Ephesians 4:11-12 is that of an elder or deacon (these are not the same) these are actually offices or positions in the church not a specific gifting. We often confuse elders and deacons as being the same thing thought they aren’t biblical but this is why I refereed to them as one gifting earlier. These offices of elder and deacon will be discussed in a later post. 

So that leaves us with the 4 or 5 gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11-12. This post will briefly look at each of these to provide us with a better understanding of what a pastor specifically is and isn’t. Understand that a person filling the position or holding the title of “pastor” in a modern church may have any or none of these gifts, but we often expect them to fulfill all of these roles. What we must realize is that that is an unbiblical expectation and one that causes “pastors” and churches much problems.

The first gift/position listed is also the least familiar to the modern reader. The term apostle is used in two different ways in the New Testament. It is used specifically for the 12 men that followed Jesus and it is used more generally (like here in Eph. 4) for an authoritative gifting in the church. There are not any more apostles in the specific sense of the term. Yet there are certainly apostles in the general sense working in the church today. A person with the gift of an apostle is a person that leads a mission, a movement of God. These are big picture leaders in the church.

The term prophet is more familiar to us than apostle but still often miss understood. A simple study of a biblical prophet will show that a prophet didn’t always tell the future but that most of the time they simply speak on God’s behalf. They were social commentators. In modern day this is more of what we think of as a preacher. Though understand that preaching in this regard happens through more than just a pulpit. It may happen through writing or general relationship and conversation.

This gifting is particularly important in understanding our role as individual Christians. Some people have the gifts of being an evangelist, but we are all called to share our faith. Don’t try to use your lack of gifting as an evangelist as an excuse to not share your faith. That being said an evangelist in this passage doesn’t necessarily mean the likes of Billy Graham or someone to speak in a stadium to large crowds. It maybe more accurate to understand those as prophets. An evangelist in this passage doesn’t just see people saved but equips others to do the same. This is clear in verse 12. Being an evangelist is an entire life thing not once in a while at a big event.

What is important to note that a person that is called “pastor” today may actually be one of these other gifts. Also, note that when we call someone “pastor” today we often expect them to fulfill all of these roles and that is an unfair and unbiblical expectation.

That leads us to pastor and teacher. We will examine those giftings / positions more specifically next in their own post.

Here is a link to the previous post of  What is a Pastor.
Part 1

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2015 in What is a Pastor


What is a Pastor?

This is the first of what will be a several post blog series about what a pastor is biblically and practically in the church. The term pastor was once a term of endearment but is now simply a title that is used and abused by many people. The term is applied to people that aren’t actually pastors, and not applied to people that are. What we will attempt to do in this series is break through the muck and assumption and understand what biblical pastoralship is and also, to a lesser degree, what biblical church leadership is generally.

Google defines a pastor how it is most commonly used in our modern terms “a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation.”

Well then a minister is defined as “a member of the clergy, especially in Protestant churches.”

Then clergy is defined as “the body of all people ordained for religious duties, especially in the Christian Church.”

and finally ordained is defined as “make (someone) a priest or minister; confer holy orders on.”
or- “order or decree (something) officially”

The problem is this is not how the bible would define Pastor. We think of a pastor as a leader of a church that has been approved or decreed by some official group, like a denomination. The problem is this is quite a difference from how the bible defines pastor.

In Ephesians chapter 4 a listing of 4 or 5 giftings is offered. Ephesians 4:11-12 state:” And He (Jesus) personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,”
The reason I say that it is a list of 4 or 5 is that there is some debate as to weather pastors and teachers are one or two giftings. It seems that it is one, though a person would tend to lean one way or they other. A teacher would need to be somewhat pastoral at times, and a pastor would need to teach at times. 

These are giftings/positions of authority in the church. If a person were gifted by God and lead by God to fulfill these roles in the church they would have authority (official or un-official) in the church simply by the nature of their gifting. We also see authority in  these gifts because of the reason they are given, for “the training of the saints”. So to these men fall the weight of seeing that the church is faithful in fulfilling its duties as a church. That doesn’t mean that they are official leaders but that if they don’t use the gifts God has given them are not faithful to the call God has placed on them then the church will not be successful.

So it is clear that the pastor is a position of authority, but what does that look like. Next post we will briefly examine each of these gifts and the look more intently at what the pastors role actually is.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 13, 2015 in What is a Pastor

%d bloggers like this: