recently a good friend of mine posted a new entry into his blog (the details of which are not important to this entry, but it is a great read and he is a good guy so you can read it here:; what has prompted this entry was what came out in the ensuing discussion and what follows is a challenge to all pastors out in Christiandom.

the idea is simple, i want to lay a challenge down at the feet of anyone who calls themselves pastor, who is called pastor, who “is” a pastor, or who speaks as one who has a pastoral calling in your life – how do you define “pastor” in your context and what does it mean.

let me put it this way – with so much happening in the Church in the twenty-first century, i believe there exists a huge leadership gap and that gap starts with the pastors in our churches.  i do not mean to be flippant or to be obtuse; but rather my aim is to challenge our thinking and to push to seize control of Christ’s ministry here and now.

lets start with this question: what makes someone a pastor?  is it the position that they have been given?  is it the organization that legitimizes them as pastor?  is it their ability to preach well from the pulpit and teach the Word?  is it the compassion they have for the people around them?  is it a heart that is broken for those who are lost?  is it an ability to council and to help people through difficult times?  is it the ability to inspire others to reach their highest potential?

i fear that in the modern church there is too much reliance on preconceived notions about what makes a pastor.  far worse is that i have encountered a multitude of men and women who fit the description above and operate under the name of pastor – good men and women with good hearts – that have no clear idea what it means to be a pastor.

is this endemic of a great falsehood in the Church or is this just the perversion of the word over the years?

at the end of the conversation, it becomes apparent to me that we need to reconsider what that word means – in other words, ask our selves two questions:

first, what is a pastor?

second, what kind of pastor am I?

in the end i hope to challenge everyone to rethink what we mean by pastor and what it means to pastor – shed the label and our preconceived notions of what it is and challenge ourselves to do more now.  there are far too many people that have a title that they should not or hold onto a role that does not fit who they are.  this does not make them bad people just victims of a flawed idea.

i speak this out of nothing more than my own struggle.  in the end i want to challenge you all to join me, let’s come up with a new idea.  let’s figure out a better way to pastor.


8 thoughts on “definition of a pastor

  1. Great thoughts and great starter to what looks to be an awesome discussion and discovery.

    Thanks, BTW, for plugging my blog.

    Anyway…I’ve always looked at “pastor” as the head of any traditional church. The pastor is the one at the pulpit, the one welcoming people into the church, the one leading meetings, the one starting ministries.

    The ONE.

    But, I think it’s safe to say, in agreement with you, we all agree that that’s not the sole marking of such, granted some of those identifiers do fit the bill of some.

    When you look at Scripture and, specifically, Ephesians 4:11 when it says, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God…”, we often assume “pastor” to equal apostle/prophet/evangelist/shepherd/teacher. I think our traditional view of what a “pastor” should be automatically fuses all of these roles into one.

    Which, isn’t always the case.

    To simplify things a bit, I think we ought to look at “pastor” as being what “pastor” is in context of what we find throughout the OT and NT. In Acts 20:28 and Jeremiah 3:15, the idea of “pastor” is synonymous with “shepherd”. And shepherds usually operate under two functions; leading sheep to greener pastures and caring for them.

    I think it’s safe to say that when one has a heart to lead people to a closer relationship with God (greener pastures) and to care for them, they are a “pastor”. Can they preach? Absolutely. Can they prophesy? Absolutely. Can they teach? Of course.

    I think I’m starting to let my thoughts go all over the place, so, for now, I’ll leave at this:

    “Pastor” definitely shouldn’t solely be a title one is given, rather, a mission one is living out.


    1. derrick – love your thoughts my friend.

      here is another wrinkle that needs to discussed in this overall conversation.

      can one be a preacher, teacher, counselor, mentor, leader, evangelist, apostle, etc. and not be a pastor? i think the answer has to be yes.

      for me, that is where this conversation begins…

      looking forward to more thoughts!


      1. Oh absolutely!

        I’ve met many prophets who can care less about the overall care of your being. They share the Word from God, leave at that and move on. It’s a bit impersonal and harsh, but that’s what they were called to do. In fact, when God gives me a Word, I usually do the same. Share it. Leave it. And move on. Of course, my “shepherd’s” heart sometimes comes out and I exercise a lot care when I do speak a Word over someone.

        I’ve met many evangelist at 3rd Street whose sole mission is to preach the Word and not worry about a following.

        And so forth…

        Pastors shouldn’t fill all of these roles. Paul clearly shows us the beauty behind God’s diverse design of community. We’re all different pieces that make the whole and we, pastors, shouldn’t assume we have to fit ourselves in a general mold.

        If anything, pastors who try to squeeze everything in one are, 1) perhaps operating out of what God created them to be, and 2) failing to see the gifts and calling in others…


  2. Derrick, hits it right on the head. Thanks for using scripture to back up you thoughts. In regards to what kind of pastor you are, remember that God has allowed everything in life to shape you for a purpose. Shape is an acronym for:

    Spiritual Gifts (What has God gifted you to do)
    Heart (what do you love to do)
    Abilities (What are you good at)
    Personality (What is your passion and compassion)
    Experiences (How will your experinces help others)

    All of this SHAPEs who you are and how you minister. There is no right or wrong way to pastor. Only Jesus as your guide. He will direct your steps.


    1. So the question is – do we redefine, re-educate or re-imagine how the local church is structured?

      How can we pull the best out of people when they are stuck with a notion that is not necessarily valid?


  3. I remember reading this and Pastor D’s post and thinking they were really interesting. Half a year later and now I’m REALLY interested in these posts.


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