the weblog of Alan Knox

What should a new pastor do?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2010 in elders | 11 comments

What should a new pastor do?

Four years ago, I wrote a post called “What should a new pastor do?” It’s a short post, but it presents pastors/elders/overseers in a way that I’ve rarely seen them presented. I’d love to have your input.

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What should a new pastor do?

Before commenting on ETS, I wanted to bring up an issue that was recently introduced by Matthew McDill. Someone asked him the following question: “What should a pastor do during the first year of a new pastorate?”

As Matthew correctly recognizes, this question assumes that a new pastor is also new to a church. However, there is another assumption included in this question: a person should do something different once they are pastor. According to 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1, a person should only be recognized as an elder/overseer if that person is already functioning in a pastoral role. Caring for people and leading as an example are requirements for those who oversee the people of God (Acts 20; 1 Peter 5). If a church recognizes that God is already using one of its members in a pastoral role, then there is nothing new for that person to do. They should continue to live for God as they have been doing.

There is another assumption found in the question. The question assumes that a pastor’s duties include institutional administrative responsibilities. In other words, now that a person is a pastor, he has organizational resposibilities. But, is this assumption scriptural or traditional? Should a church (or pastor) assume that a pastor should administer the organization? I have previously suggested that Scripture does not place administrative responsibilites on the elder. If this is correct then, once again, there is nothing new required of a “pastor.”

What do you think?


11 Comments

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  1. 11-12-2010

    It all but brings me to despair that so much of the church–pretty much throughout our history–lacks so much substantive understanding of such a key biblical function within the church.

    I don’t know what to make of it. This sort of thing brings me the closest to saying I believe, but I have no evidentiary basis whatever in believing. There is just nowhere else to go.

  2. 11-12-2010

    What if a new elder is new to the church? Sure, that might not be the biblical ideal, but it is the present day norm.

    So if somebody does take an appointment as a pastor/elder at a new church with whom they’ve prayed, searched the scriptures, and proclaimed the gospel; what should they do that is new, especially if the church trusts them, agrees that God has called them there, and asks them to?

  3. 11-12-2010

    Art,

    What do you mean by, “There is just nowhere else to go”?

    Geoff,

    I suppose, since we have no scriptural info about people moving from one place to another to be “the pastor,” then we can fill in the blanks however we want to.

    -Alan

  4. 11-12-2010

    Alan,

    Even though I spent many years as a so-called “called” pastor, I, long ago came to the conclusion that the ONLY person/s qualified to be in such a position are those who are long standing members of the congregation they are expected to serve in. They are the ONLY ones who are known well enough to satisfy the questions a congregation MUST ask itself. It seems to me that is the only position which accords with Scripture.

  5. 11-12-2010

    Alan,

    I had John 6 in mind (vs 41-71, and Peter’s response in Jn 6:67-69).

    Geoff,

    As much as it is fearful to consider, it remains a really good question, since it does in fact happen every day. Can we make the best of it, then?

    Relying on the extensive current literature in the areas of leadership, change, and organizational transformation, lots of good, pragmatic advice could be given to newly hired pastors. Solid research exists, for example, that identifies the capacity and the best approaches for effective change in the first 3-6 months for a new senior level leader.

    That stuff works. Companies are built, armies are led, political careers are made that prove the efficacy of these principles. Yes, churches are built, too, using entrepreneurial leadership and well established marketing methodologies.

    But, consider the possibility that “how we build thereon” (I Cor 3:10-15) matters to God. Take the whole of I Cor 3 literally a moment. Isn’t is sobering, frightening? In that light–if it were true–what advice would you give to the new pastor? To the congregation that hired him or her?

    A good deal more of what is done by the church (us) is also defended by this same rationale, re: “biblical ‘ideal’ v. present day norm.” Is this perfectly OK, or are we walking a dangerous path unaware?

    What if the things we do in our own way count no more than the building of a Jehovah’s Witness congregation or the successful converts gained by young Mormon witnesses? What if He takes no pleasure in our sincere labors that rely on our own wisdom and dismiss His as foolishness?

    This isn’t one of those mysteries that doesn’t have an ending. We are soon to be before Him.

  6. 11-13-2010

    Hmmm? Any “Pastors” hired or fired in the Bible?

    What should a new pastor do?
    1 – Lay down “Title” and “Position” of **Today’s** Pastor/Leader. (NOT in the Bible.)
    Become a brethren within the group. A “Servant of Christ.” A “Disciple of Christ.”
    Let the people get to know them. See if they can learn from the “Least of these.” :-)

    2 – Lay down the “The Little Bit Extra” that comes with the “Title and Position.”
    Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Recognition, Reputation, etc…
    ALL those things that Jesus spoke against.
    ALL those things that become “Idols.” “Idols” of the heart. Ezek 14:1-11 KJV
    ALL those things that are “highly essteemed among men…
    But, are abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15 KJV

    When you “Take” the “Title” and “Position” of **Today’s** “Pastor/Leader,” Aren’t you
    **automatically** “Exercising Authority” and “lording it over” God’s heritage?

    In my experience…
    Pastor/Leader = exercise authority = lord it over = abuse = always

    Didn’t you ever wonder why NOT one person, in the NT,
    has the “Title” and “Position” of **Today’s** “Pastor/Leader?” Can you name one? ;-)

    Didn’t Jesus humble himself, make himself of NO Reputation,
    and take upon himself the form of a “servant.” Phil 2:7-8.

    In my experience… No matter how humble… No matter how loving…
    “Servant-leaders” eventually take the “Position” of – “Leader” “Over” the “servants.”

    Don’t “Titles” make a “Reputation” whether you want it or not?
    Good morning “Pastor.” What just happened?

    Didn’t Jesus say; I receive not honor from men? John 5:41 KJV
    How can you belive who receive honour one from another? John 5:44 KJV

    If someone calls you “pastor” or “leader;”
    Is that receiving honor from men? :-(

    Don’t “Titles” create honor whether you want it or not? :-(

    Job 32:21-22 KJV
    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give **flattering titles** unto man.
    For I know NOT to give **flattering titles;** in so doing
    my maker would soon take me away.

    Jesus… The Shepherd and Bishop of our soul… :-)

  7. 11-14-2010

    Art,

    Thanks for giving a much better answer than mine.

    A. Amos Love,

    I’m not much for titles. Don’t like them at all. Who were the people that Paul and Barnabas appointed in Acts 14:23? Who were Titus supposed to appoint in Titus 1:5?

    -Alan

  8. 11-14-2010

    Alan

    Seems Barnabas and Titus appointed “Elders.”
    What ever that means… ;-) Today… Oy Vey!!! ;-)

    Does any one really know what an “elder” is today? How do I recognize one today?
    You admit; Doesn’t seem like any today can live up to the qualifications in 1 Tim 3, Titus.

    Best I can figure – these guys were already eldering – serving, teaching, shepherding.
    (but what were they teaching?) (I know, I know, please ask, please ask.)
    (Well, maybe, I think I might have a possible explanation of what they taught)

    They were already *known* by those they were serving, teaching, shepherding.
    But, they weren’t *hired or fired* And they didn’t go from one congregation to another.
    Don’t think there were any “New Elders” showing up to take over and lead the flock.
    They weren’t hierarchy. They weren’t a special “Clergy Class.”

    I kinda like your explanation for elder on “A Pilgrims Progress” Eric’s blog.

    and the interesting take on elders from “francisdrakeprivateer” on the same post.

    IMO – Worth a read for all.

    http://eric-carpenter.blogspot.com/2010/10/elders-in-i-peter-51-6.html

  9. 11-15-2010

    A. Amos Love,

    Since you’ve been around my blog for quite some time, you know that my use of the term “elder” or “pastor” or “overseer” is very similar to what you expressed here.

    -Alan

  10. 11-15-2010

    Alan

    Really like what’s going on here. The searching, wrestling, trying to figure it out.

    Who knows – we might even come to some “conclusion” one day. ;-)

    Thanks for a place to vent, test some thoughts, and challenge “The Traditions of Men.”

    Believe it or not – Little ole me, has been banned from a few sites.

    When those with – Power, Profit, and Prestige, are challenged – it’s not always pretty.

    Seems… Christian-dumb, has been, and is, often a bloody sport.

    Thanks for putting up with me. Much appreciated.

    Be blessed…

  11. 11-16-2010

    A. Amos Love,

    You’re welcome to comment here… even when we disagree. :)

    -Alan