the weblog of Alan Knox

That man is your pastor?

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in blog links, elders | 17 comments

That man is your pastor?

(Please don’t get tripped by the title of this post. This post is not about the use of titles like “pastor.” I don’t like titles either, but many among the church use them. And, in the post below, one of the people uses that title…)

Joe (JR) at “More than Cake” wrote an excellent post recently called “Paparazzi Pastors Leading a Celebrity Church.”

In his post, Joe tells the story of a man he met while manning a booth at a conference:

Tim turned to me, a captive audience at the booth, and proclaimed, “That man is my pastor.”

Tim’s “pastor” leads a popular church in Seattle and since I had recently moved from that area, I was interested to know if we had some friends in common, so I asked, “Oh, so you are from Seattle? What brings you to LA?”

Tim’s answer surprised me, “No,” he said, “I live here in LA.”

Now I was intrigued. How could Pastor X, be Tim’s pastor if he lived 1,200 miles away? So I asked, “Did you recently move here from Seattle?”

“No.” Tim replied, “my church meets in my house and we watch Pastor X’s sermon every week on DVD.”

Make sure you read the rest of Joe’s post. He makes some good observations about Tim and his relationship (or lack thereof) with “Pastor X.” He uses this story as a jumping off point to talk about “celebrity pastors.”

But, in reality, for many among the church in the West, the “pastor” is just as much of a stranger and just as much “out of reach” as a person speaking on a DVD.

If you do not know someone – or are not growing to know someone – and if you never see them in a context other than speaking in front of a group of people, then that person is not shepherding (pastoring) you, regardless of what title the person may take for himself or be given by others.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-28-2012

    Good post. I linked to this one and to More Than Cake.

  2. 2-28-2012


    Your last paragraph: It speaks volumes of truth!

  3. 2-28-2012


    Good. Joe writes some good posts.

    Aussie John,

    I wish I could learn more personally from someone like you.


  4. 2-28-2012

    @Fred, glad you like the post brother.

    @Alan, you make 2 important points Alan. First, “pastor” is not a title, it is gifting from the Holy Spirit. Second, you are right in that when a person is isolated or socially removed from someone, they are not functioning in the gift of pastoring.

  5. 2-29-2012

    Joe (JR),

    I never know whether to call you Joe or JR…

    Anyway, I almost felt bad picking this one point from your post, because your post covers so much more. But, thanks for a great post!


  6. 2-29-2012


    Call me Joe. I just use JR for writing because “Joe Miller” is such a common name… although when I was 10, I did come home and tell my mom, “from now on, my name is J.R”, but that only lasted about a week 🙂

  7. 3-1-2012


    You said,”I wish I could learn more personally from someone like you.”

    Brother! Not much to see or learn these days. Much of what we’ve learned and sought to practice is past tense now. My wife and I are rather isolated from the activities we used to enjoy.

    When age and health issues make “what we used to do” difficult,or impossible, it doesn’t eliminate our relationship with our Father.

    As a matter of fact, it is a time when we are put to the test of whether we truly believe our Lord when He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”, or whether we’ve learned to “rest”, and that the lessons we learned were truly Holy Spirit taught.

  8. 3-2-2012

    Aussie John,

    I still think I could learn a lot from you. Thanks for willing to share as much as you can like this! It means so much to me that you keep up with this blog and take part in the discussions here.


  9. 3-4-2012

    I, too, have enjoyed the contributions of “Aussiejohn.” Let me encourage you brother to continue to rest in Him who is able to finish what He began and do it exceeding abundantly, beyond all that you could ask or think! Let God arise!

    Life circumstances brought me to the place where I had to eat the words that I had shared with so many and they were food for me. Nee taught that God will never leave us in the empirical, but we will be the thing that we preach, it will be reality.

    Blessings to you!


  10. 5-2-2013

    I read Joe’s post. Very challenging. Here is my response to what he wrote:

    I have struggled with this myself, but am wondering if it is more the fault of the people rather than the pastor. The reason I say this is that I can have the same tendency to do this to someone like Frank Viola or Neil Cole, and they are both outside of the institutional church. Just something I am thinking through. Of course, I do not claim Pastor X, or Viola, or Cole as my pastor, but I do enjoy listening to them speak. And of course social media only intensifies this.

    What are your thoughts?

  11. 5-2-2013

    Hi Greg, I am glad you came to Alan’s site and posted here as well. Since I already shared my thoughts on my blog, I will let Alan or others chime in here… but great question brother.

  12. 5-2-2013


    I agree with you 100%.


  13. 6-7-2013

    There is a gathering of sorts up in northern NJ, called The Liquid Church, which employs the use of simulcasting for the “pastor” to “preach” to all 3 meeting locations. I have a friend who attends…not sure if she has ever even met her “pastor”.

    We have become so hung up on titles and even take to re-defining things to suit our whims that we have watered down, altered and even malformed what scripture shows us. This has been true of the various gifts, the functions of these gifts, as well as how we treat women, what we see as the grace of God and how we treat “sinners”.

    It is high time we return to the basics.

  14. 6-9-2013


    The modern concept of multiple venues and “video preaching” is (to me) a natural progression of the separation between “the pastor” and others among the church.


  15. 6-10-2013

    I would add “natural”, but unhealthy.

  16. 6-10-2013

    Joe (JR),

    I agree.