Friday, August 7, 2009

The Pastor

so, perhaps one more post of 'the pastor' and the breakdown of Pagan Christianity
So, obviously the early church featured different functions within the body - but the emphasis (especially in the Pauline epistles which are the essential letters to the early church) were about humility and equality and everyone participating in the body as the church of Jesus in the world. This idea of equality and shared leadership shifted drastically over the years (especially after Constantine's reign):
"To be a Christian under Constantine's reign was no longer a handicap. It was an advantage. It was fashionable to become a part of the empoeror's religion. And to be among the clergy was to receive the greatest of advantages... Clergymen received the same honors as the highest officials of the Roman Empire and even the emperor himself...he also ordered that the clergy receive fixd annual allowances (ministerial pay)... he exempted the Christian clergy from paying taxes... and they were freed from being tried by secular courts and from serving in the army... in all these things the clergy was given special class status." (pg. 121)

This is really helpful to me. Booth revolutionized the world with the release of a BODY of people who were all enlisted to serve and lead and win the world for Jesus. The 'officers' were simply considered soldiers with more time to commit to the fight... I remember as an officer in my first appointment coming across a telegram from William lamenting that officers were doing all the preaching at meetings themselves - william was furious... the soldiers are equipped for this... and if they aren't it's the duty of good officers to equip them. That changed my whole view on preaching but it also helped to inform my view of the practical reality of priesthood of all believers. In the early church when they gathered it was expected that EVERYONE had something to contribute. What we mean by that now is that some people are called to stack the chairs, sit in the chairs and one person is called to speak. It's crazy. The professionalisation of the 'priesthood' is the collapse of the church as Jesus unleashed her at Pentecost... I think it's a very valid point. From both perspectives. Hiring and having a 'professional priest' to be the leader of a people often makes the people lazy and indifferent to how Jesus wants to use them and equip them on the other hand it makes it virtually impossible to be an effective leader when all the body's health and future and the impact it's supposed to make in the world is your job... it's no wonder it can't be done.

Why are we so infactuated with someone being 'the pastor'? our infactuation is evidenced by our hunger for education and qualifications and an endless sea of training the professional elite to 'lead the body' - I can't even tell you the amount of messages I've heard on 'authority' and the need to 'submit' to authority which in a hierarchical model of leadership can only line up with the Romans not with the early Christians. Just food for thought... but I'm into the church being the church... equality and giftings and release for EVERYONE to use all gifts for God and His glory.
Imagine what your church might look like if the 'pastoral' model changed?? who would lead? who would speak? who would set direction? who would visit your neighbour? I know... you could?!!


Graham said...

Great sermon... preach it sister.

Bernard said...

Hi Danielle,

You state, '...but I'm into the church being the church... equality and giftings and release for EVERYONE to use all gifts for God and His glory.'

I would fully agree (and with much more of what you are saying) - but it seems to me that an important question here is, has Christ given gifts of pastor/teachers to the church that the saints may be equipped(Eph 4v11,12), and if so, who are they and what should they do to fulfil their ministry?

After Paul's missionary journey in Acts 14, he appointed elders in every church (v23) - in Titus 1v5, he instructs Titus to appoint elders in every town - on his way to Jerusalem in Acts 20v17, he calls the elders of the Ephesian church to meet with him - in 20v28 he encourages the elders to shepherd/pastor the church of God. In 1Peter5v1,2, Peter exhorts his fellow elders to shepherd (pastor) the flock of God.

I'm sure the 'pastor model' has been abused and miss-used in different and various ways by both pastors and people over the years, and even to today. But if the Lord has appointed that his churches are equipped with pastors, then it is important that they are not only in place, but function in accordance with His will, complementing and not competing with the functioning of the 'non pastors'.