Home > Church Commentary, Discipleship, Pastors > Raising pastors or leaders?

Raising pastors or leaders?

shepherd One thing that is really bothering me in the modern church is that pastors are no longer shepherds of the flock, but rather have become managers within a "churchy" corporate environment. There are all kinds of programmes to raise leaders in the church, and it makes me wonder what happened to the instructions of Jesus to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Mt 28:19-20)

Every week day afternoon a local Christian radio station plays a John Maxwell piece that is about 2 minutes long. I have been listening to this on and off for some time now, and I am yet to hear him quote the Scriptures or explain anything about the Scriptures. It is this constant droning about leadership principles and what good leaders are made of.

Not exactly on the same track of this post, but related to it, Jeff Purswell, Dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College wrote an interesting post on the issue of pastors as leaders:

"We deviate from Scriptural precept and historical example, however, when a pastor’s role as “leader” displaces his primary role as a teacher—a shepherd who feeds God’s people with the truth of his Word. The relentless call to pastors in the New Testament is to the ministry of the Word, from the apostles’ retirement from mercy ministry (Acts 6:1–4) to Paul’s dying words to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2)."

Purswell wonders:

"Although it’s impossible to know which facet of the contemporary church would look strangest to our hypothetical historical observer, let me nominate one for consideration: the modern paradigm of “pastor as leader.” Tracing its exact roots is difficult, but we can generally surmise that modern business theory, mediated through the church growth movement, is the source of this paradigm—a paradigm that would be unintelligible to our time-travelling friend."

It would indeed be interesting to know what Calvin, Owen, Edwards, Whitefield or even the apostle Paul would say about this paradigm shift as pastors see themselves more as leaders than shepherds.

Indeed, how do these "leader" type pastors see themselves in light of Peter’s admonition in 1 Pet 5:1-3:

(1)  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:  (2)  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;  (3)  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

The problem with this whole "leadership" paradigm is that many pastors forget the essentials of being pastors, and instead of shepherding the flock they domineer–lord it over—those in their charge.

Instead of making disciples, teaching them the truths of the Bible, they create great leaders that follow all the best modern principles of leadership, but with no love for the Scriptures or the people they are supposed to "lead!"

Rather than being shepherds of the flock, these pastors have downgraded themselves to becoming managers of church "assets." They sit in meetings from morning to noon, goodness knows what for, yet most of the time not accomplishing anything. And still, the flock is not being taught nor discipled!

Where are the days when pastors used to visit their flock at home, taking the discipling process to where the disciples are? When last has your pastor visited your home? Did he make any inspection into your spiritual life? Or did he just speak about the football, if he came at all?

You see, managers and "leaders" do not disciple the flock, nor do they visit the flock. These men, and sometimes women, expect you to go see them in their offices, like you would expect from managers.

I know of a "missionary" ministry in Asia that goes from country to country in Asia doing the Million Leaders Mandate. I wonder what the apostle Paul would have said about this push into non-evangelized areas to promote the Million Leaders Mandate? "What Million Leaders Mandate?" I can hear Paul ask. "Jesus never spoke about it and neither have I written about it! Your mandate is simple! ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation!’" (Mk 16:15) These missionaries will end up with many leaders, yet I wonder how many disciples they actually make.

We do need leaders in the church. That is true. However, to call the making of leaders a mandate is to stretch the Scriptures just a tad.

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