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Jesus Creed


Pastor Pages on Church websites

posted by Scot McKnight

We live in an era of the informal, an impact of the 1960s. Friday is casual for many businesses; pastors go by first names; professors don’t have to wear ties or coats and some wear blue jeans; kids “hang out” with their parents; high school students … I won’t even start.

What I’d like to start, though, is a conversation about the “pastor pages” or “staff” pages on church websites. I’ve been on two or three recently that reveal what I’m perceiving to be a trend. The impact of the pastor’s webpage is a bold and blunt revelation of what they like…

But what do you expect of a pastor’s page on a church website?

Here are samples of questions that pastors are answering on church website pastor’s pages.



what’s on the iPod
what’s eaten for breakfast
what’s the favorite movie
what’s being read
what’s most annoying
what’s the tattoo
what’s the most humiliating experience in life — like being duct taped to a pole
what’s the biggest mistake made
what’s the make of the car … I could go on … you get the point.

One site had a question about the “dream job” for the pastors and not one of them put down
pastoring or preaching and discipling … one had building furniture.
Nothing wrong with building furniture, that’s for sure, but … if your dream job isn’t pastoring … well, it should be.

What annoyed me about these sites was the utter absence of a sense of
the sacred in pastoring, of the overwhelming sense of God’s call upon a
life that reaches so deep that everything becomes holy, of the profound
respect and privilege of the call to lead God’s people, and of the total lack
of order. The sense we hear today of being real and authentic doesn’t mean we devalue the pastoral calling of its sanctity. I couldn’t and wouldn’t call any of these folks “Reverend.” If I were a visitor, I’d go somewhere else.

OK, I’m for informality; I’m for being real; I’m for family and fun and the like. Occasional informalities and common realities are wonderful. But a church site with pages for pastors ought to reflect the sacred wisdom of the ages and sacredness of the vocation. Some of these folks need to wear the collar for a year, daily.

Recently Kris and I were in Atlanta. When the cabbie learned I had preached at a church, he asked me if I took prayer requests. When we got out of the car, he gave it to me and asked me not to look at it until later. I did, and prayed for him … he asked me to pray for his anxiety about financial matters. That cabbie’s perception of a preacher was someone who had access to God. Pastor pages on websites might learn from this perception.



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Rebeccat

posted January 5, 2009 at 1:54 am


I have noticed this as well. I think it’s part of a drive to take pastors off a pedestal and make them real people. I think that taking pastors off their pedestals and allowing them to be real people is all well and good, but IMO part of being a pastor is being a real person with an unusual, sacred drive to serve God in a way which ministers to and inspires people. Somehow we seem to be satisfied with seeing our pastors are real people (see – I like Dave Matthews to!) who just happen to work at a church.
I may have said this before, but one of my big pet peeves is having a pastor or even a group leader stand up and say, “I’m struggling along just like we all are.” Every time I hear some variation of this I want to scream, “I’m not looking for someone who’s right where I am! I need someone who’s gone up ahead and can help show me the way!”
Maybe having seen so many pastors fall over the last couple of decades has made us leery of expecting too much from people who, call or no call, are mere mortals. But I do agree that this impulse to show everyone what a regular Joe or Josephine you are is a bit problematic.



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paul

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:00 am


“What annoyed me about these sites was the utter absence of a sense of the sacred in pastoring, of the overwhelming sense of God’s call upon a life that reaches so deep that everything becomes holy, of the profound respect and privilege of the call to lead God’s people, and of the total lack of order”
I’d agree with your observation that as a person with calling to lead we should convey a sense of sacredness… on the other hand, shouldn’t all of us as priests of new testament should show “overwhelming sense of God’s call upon a life”, and not just pastor? Maybe, if our informality could do that (ie show God’s glory), then it is ok to be informal all the time.. [and how to put that in real life?]
In my country, Indonesia, the pendulum is swung in the other extremes, where pastor usually, (not all) have reserved demeanor, because of their vocation. It is when they meet the other pastors, then they became more relaxed on their speech and banter… Problem is, many feels they are not real/authentic. I know because even though I am not a pastor, but because I minister in healing prayer ministry, I have many opportunities to talk and minister to them…
Thank you for the insight and good job on your blog!



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Kyle

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:40 am


Scot,
Whenever I was a youth minister, we would make house visits sometimes (primarily to unchurched families), and the parents would often call me Reverend Kyle, Minister Kyle no even after I said not to do so. I even got a Father Kyle once, which made me laugh. I found it was mainly from those who weren’t familiar with our church. I really found this was common in Canada as soon as anyone realized I worked with a church. I think there are parts of the USA that will never be post-Christian, but in those that are post-Christian the people still have a Christian memory (which is very distorted) so people who know you are a minister will often call you by some title even if you say, “Please, just call me Kyle.”
Here in China I’m always ???, which translates to Shepherd Ye or Minister Ye (my Chinese name is Ye Tian Ning). There is a definitely separation of clergy and laity in the Chinese church (both underground and government), so despite it really bothering me, I know that its cultural. Still it goes against everything in my which believes in the priesthood of all believers! I’ve thought about randomly calling everyone I meet at the churches by this title to see how they respond and encourage them that they are just as called to ministry as me, but I also know that I’m the foreigner and it probably wouldn’t be appropriate.



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don bryant

posted January 5, 2009 at 4:28 am


Scot, this is so true. I am 59 and have been a pastor for 30+ years. It’s hard to overstate the elevation of the pastor in the eyes of the parishioner. The area I live in is 80% Roman Catholic and the respect accorded the pastor is immense. They aren’t asking us to be God. They know we are human. But they do expect a maturity and soberness that I think surprises the average evangelical pastor. While at first this may appear to be a trap, I have come to think of it as an opportunity. A pastoral visit in a home is a big deal. A note of remembrance in the mail from the pastor is even bigger. I remember being sick and sitting in the hospital awaiting surgery and so wishing I had a pastor to visit me at that moment. Of course, I am the pastor so there was no pastoral visit. But I felt this immense need for someone to walk into my room who was a man set apart. And I have come to think that Pastors who devalue this are losing out on a great deal of good to be done for Christ. I don’t think Twittering is helping things either. Too many moods and often too much neediness.6p7qed



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jeremy bouma

posted January 5, 2009 at 5:06 am


the summer before I started my MDiv program at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary last year, I read through the Book of Leviticus to remind myself of the sacredness of the office of priest into which God called a few. i was struck by the particulars God placed on that office and the immense sacredness of the calling to bring God to the people and the people to God.
while we certainly don’t want to elevate the role of pastorate to the same level as the levitical priesthood, as a pastor-in-training I still want to steward that present and future role in the same way the levites stewarded theirs. i think your observations, Scot, reveal a cavalier and often sloppy attitude toward that office. I would also add a diminished view of the ‘profession’ of the pastor has also crept into the psyche of pastors. maybe this failure to appreciate the profession of the pastorate is contributing to this lack of professionalism…maybe.
-jeremy



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Tony Myles

posted January 5, 2009 at 5:59 am


Scot – you are right on here, and yet I respectfully disagree. What I see as important is that churches in a community “round out” this matter. For instance, our region has a lot of formal churches in the Lutheran and Catholic vein. Our “come as you are” and self-effacing style has been refreshing for many folks here, including our ability to have fun in service. Keep in mind, we make it very clear that our goal is “to please the heart of the Lord,” but I believe that includes enjoying the journey.
So perhaps the real issue isn’t trying to be formal when you’re not or trying to be hip because it’s, well, “hip.” Perhaps the real issue is genuineness, for it would seem to be that genuineness is what people and God is most interested in as we serve Him. If that happens, some people will naturally be more formal and others will naturally be more casual. One could argue Jesus valued both, having been approachable by the common folks and also respected enough by a Pharisee or two to be pursued as well.
If this happens – genuineness – all the churches in town pursuing Jesus will “round each other out” and there will be a style to choose from that is natural versus imitated. Isn’t that the real goal versus feeling professional?
(And for the record, we also have an online gaming part of our web page. If people are going to blow off steam at work, we’d love for them to be on our web site doing it… for we often find one click leads to another. :)
http://www.connectionchurch.org



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MattR

posted January 5, 2009 at 7:20 am


Right on Scot!
If we’re talking about being authentic… yes.
If we’re talking about promoting the priesthood of believers… yes.
But this lack of taking seriously one’s call and role in the Christian community has bugged me for a while. And unfortunately I see it often go beyond just pastor web pages. As one called to ministry, I take it personally.
I fear there is an even more sinister motive at work here… the need to be ‘hip’ and accepted.
I have seen a few pastors who try way too hard to prove they’re ‘cool’ to their congregation… which ironically, is often seen as desperate for attention, and kinda ‘uncool.’



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AprilK

posted January 5, 2009 at 7:58 am


I agree and disagree on this one. I’m all for pastors and church staffers taking their jobs seriously. I’m also in favor of their bios being sincere, genuine, and reflecting both their serious side as well as some fun.
However, and I say this as a pastor’s kid as well as someone who has served as a church staffer, I intensely dislike the notion of elevating the pastor (and staff/leaders) as someone “above” or “more called” than the rest of the congregation. I am also against the idea that the pastorate is any more “sacred” than other callings and vocations. That idea flies in the face of the “priesthood of all believers.”
I think the silly, superficial church staff bios reflect the “pastor as celebrity” mentality churches in the US seem to have. People want to know what their pastor likes to eat for breakfast the way they want to know what Brad and Angelina are up to.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 5, 2009 at 8:14 am


Belief in the priesthood of all believers, however, does not mean that all callings are the same; it does not eliminate the pastor and the prophet and the apostle.
Nor is the priesthood of all believers a radical call to religious individualism so that everyone does what he or she wants; it is a calling to be priests with God for one another. Thus, priesthood refers to service before God for others. We all have that calling.



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Daddy Parenting Tips

posted January 5, 2009 at 8:57 am


The knowledge of good and evil in each of us means we may view different things differently on whats sacred. If we were in the 19th-20th century, many would still be adamant that anything read and sung in the church other than the bible would be less than sacred and respectful, if not disturbingly sinful. Its safe to follow rules and laws rather than choose the path of reason and freedom. Yet, if we are confident to accompany our actions with lots of prayer and be guided by love, and faith in love with recognition that God is the reference point of love, we need not fear what man has to say. There is no 1 rule how God works through different individuals, lest we judge that we know better.
http://daddyparentingtips.blogspot.com/



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RJS

posted January 5, 2009 at 9:10 am


Scot,
If I understand you – you are not calling for a pedestal or an artificial image – but for a sense of perspective and position.
A church website should project an image that includes sacredness, holiness as well as community. Pastor as leader – and leadership is thoroughly Biblical – should project an appropriately Godly image and calling.
In a bit of a pushback to Rebeccat (#1) I appreciate honesty from the pulpit or the leader – and such honesty is important for both sides. But the honesty should also come with a real desire and intent to move in the direction of Godliness, holiness.
I once attended a church service where there was a skit dealing with bribery in the business world. After the skit the pastor joked that he wished he was so tempted – and that just struck me as off. Why would anyone wish for temptation unless there was some intent to succumb and why would a pastor wish to succumb? In a very real sense the image we want to project, try to project, which hopefully reflects the will of God, guides what we are and become.



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Rick

posted January 5, 2009 at 9:31 am


I thought church was supposed to be fun.
Why will people come if it is not fun? ;)
I see this as partly an over-reaction to the centuries of a strong clergy/laity divide. Even the designs of churches encouraged that separation (altars for example).
Today the push is to break down those barriers, and the internet makes that even easier with the ability to immediately become “approachable”.



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Steven

posted January 5, 2009 at 9:58 am


Would you happen to have a good example of your suggested pastor page so that we/I can better see what you’re describing?
On our church’s website, the pastors each have a simple bio that is about three paragraphs long. It’s pretty straightforward: first paragraph is about early life, second paragraph is about becoming a pastor, third paragraph is about current situation — their goals for the church and stuff about their family.
I guess I’m wondering if this model would be what you are describing or if you had something even more formal (there’s probably a better word) in mind.



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Stephen Mook

posted January 5, 2009 at 10:36 am


I agree whole heartedly. Not only should it be looked upon as a dream job but with a deeper reverence and responsibility towards the new reality that as a pastor your a doctor of sorts to humanity. Medical doctors and nurses have a profound sense of their service. How much more for a pastor?
Much to ruminate on with this conversation!



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kathy s

posted January 5, 2009 at 10:41 am


When I read about all the pastor’s individual likes and habits
it does not strike me as taking this person off a pedastal, but rather putting them on a pedestal-and not in a good way from my point of view. It reminds me of the way so many of us view celebrities. Knowing these details may make me “like” a pastor because he/she likes the same music as I do and it may make me view that pastor as a “regular” person if we share the same love of sports, but the thing that bothers me most, I think, is that these things point me toward the pastor and not toward Christ. And isn’t that what pastors are called to do: show us Christ?



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Chaplain Mike

posted January 5, 2009 at 10:42 am


Scot, amen and amen. I was thinking about this the other day with respect to another issue in church life, but your comments reinforce what I was thinking. We evangelicals complain all the time about how the world doesn’t respect God, and yet we cultivate an atmosphere where there seems to be no place for sobriety, decorum or respect for a sacred aspect to life.



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Keith

posted January 5, 2009 at 11:12 am


I have been reading the posts and comments at Jesus Creed for well over a year. However, this is my first time posting a comment. I finally felt compelled to add my two cents to the discussion. I am a Canadian pastor, and I have been a pastor for 16 years.
I am sure the informality that Scot speaks about has many causes. However, one of those causes is congregations and pastors treating the pastorate as merely a job while minimizing, or even trivializing the ?calling? aspect of the role. I our attempt at minimizing any hint of ?specialness? of being a pastor (which I agree with, we all stand on level ground before the cross and empty tomb) we remove the importance of the role of being a pastor within the life of the church. Even among groups of pastors, I have heard people refer to, and even defend the pastoral role as merely a job. This leads to the informality discussed here. Being a pastor certainly means I have responsibilities to carry out. And while it is healthy for pastors to be fully accountable to the leadership of the church, when pastors think and even talk as if they are merely doing a job or merely working at a church, they unintentionally role of the pastor is diminished. The language we use matters.
What further diminishes the role of the Pastor is when churches talk about hiring a pastor, and pastors talk about being hired. I hear this language all the time. I profoundly disagree with what that language implies. To speak of ?hiring? also undercuts the role of the pastorate. When a person is hired, they are hired to do a job or to work for an organization. Pastors then begin to treat being a pastor as merely a job. I don?t believe pastors (including youth pastors) are hired; I believe God calls them through the leading of the Holy Spirit to specific congregations for specific periods of time, and that the congregation affirms that ?calling.?



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T

posted January 5, 2009 at 11:27 am


Scot,
I agree with your conclusion, but your reasoning surprised me. I particlularly second AprilK’s comments. You mentioned several things you would wish for pastors–and I agree with them, but which part would you not also wish for everyone? Knowing you just from this blog, I can’t imagine you’d not have the same hopes for everyone. And everything Keith said about pastors is true of all. Are we called to our tasks in this world or just hired?
I agree that pastors should ‘lead the way’ on this, but they should be leading that way so that all who would call themselves Christians or church members (“called out ones”) would follow their example and be the city set on a hill. We’re all sinners, yet we’re all given a sacred and amazing and high call, and should do whatever he gives us to do wholeheartedly as Christ’s representatives.
I just think that everything you said applies to all: be holy because I am holy. The segregation of pastors on this point has harmed the Church (and the work of pastors). Who among us should behave the way you pointed out some pastors do (online)? If so, on what biblical basis?
Now, a related issue is how churches have come to market themselves chiefly through the personality of their pastor. This, despite the NT, is inevitable and even makes sense if he or she is the “reverend” among us, or if we in the church should call him or her “teacher.” But that’s not the reality God has announced and make possible. Yes, let the pastors go first into demonstrating what holiness means.



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Keith

posted January 5, 2009 at 11:34 am


Oops in commment #18 I made two errors! I meant to write ?In our attempt . . .? I also meant to say, ?they unintentionally diminish the role of the pastor.?



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Dianne P

posted January 5, 2009 at 12:16 pm


As a nurse, I want to follow up a bit on Stephen’s reference to the medical profession. Way back in the 70s in southern California, I got my nursing degree. It was a time when the medical profession was trying to be seen as more approachable – no nursing caps, clogs, no socks, non-white uniforms, and you can’t make this stuff up – the hospital where I worked actually had to state that nursing staff must wear underwear.
I vividly remember one conversation between a young, hip person who was trying to look approachable and a wise older nurse – while he was saying that patients wanted you to be just like them, her point was just the opposite – patients wanted their medical people to be like gods. Of course there was a bit of tongue in cheek, but the point was that the person that you are looking to save your life (or your soul) benefits from some sort of professionalism. That doesn’t in any way negate warmth and compassion, but it may negate clogs without socks, lack of underwear, and lack of professionalism.
And to follow on RJS’ point, it’s about a sense of proportion and professionalism – not professionalism in a puffed up, prideful, look-who-I-am kind of way – but professionalism in a “I take what I do seriously” and “I take you seriously”.
I see not only the all too cute website info in the same category as the all too hip/casual clothes and demeanor – TMI and too much marketing.



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Your Name

posted January 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Re: comment #19
Well it appears I have more than two cents worth of opinion. :)
T, all I said (in comment #18) is not true of everyone. Without diminishing the important role within each city or town a Christian has who works at a gas station pumping gas or a Christian nurse who works in a hospital, the roles within the life of the church are different. While a Christian gas station attendant is ?called? to work with integrity, and display the life of Christ to the people they serve, they were not called to the ?role? of pumping gas. They are ?hired? to pump gas. However, that is not the same as a pastor ?called? to be not only an example of Christ ?and lead the way ? but to ?shepherd? (and all that implies) a church. It is imperative to have Christians who have jobs in every area of society and for them to be the ?salt and light? in those areas where Pastors like me will not often have an opportunity to show unbelievers Christ in ?real? life. However, to equate the role of pastor or apostle or prophet or evangelist or teacher within the life of the church to the role of a Christian gas station attendant is to contribute to the issue and problem being discussed. Within the priesthood of all believers, there are different callings. However, ?different? does not imply ?better than? it merely means different. Are all Christians called and essential to the ministry of the church within society, absolutely. Are some callings different from others within the life of the church and even within society, I would say yes.



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Keith

posted January 5, 2009 at 12:33 pm


The comments in #22 are mine (Keith).



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Bruce

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm


Scott,
We live in the day of cool and hip. Unfortunately many pastors carry cool and hip to their websites.
Maybe I am old school, or just plain old, but I don’t care about any of the things you found on the websites. I want to know about the pastor’s call, purpose,vision, and life. I realize these things can get massaged and fluffed so they end up sounding like an ad campaign but I want a pastor who is open, serious, and spiritual. I don’t want a pastor who lives in a perpetual state of “youth minister”.



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Your Name

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:20 pm


Man, I don’t know. As someone who grew up Catholic, I carry along a lot of Catholic ideas of “what it is to be clergy” and respect differences in roles. I’m an active lay leader at my church and contribute in various ways, and yet I firmly believe there are some ways (most notably officiating at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, but not exclusively that) that are not my place. And yet … people are people. I don’t need to get excessively intimate immediately (no, don’t need to know what you like for breakfast) but I’m almost getting a sense that we’re supposed to consider pastors somehow loftier than that. This doesn’t seem right.
And as for “I would not call any of these people Reverend” — well, I don’t ever call anyone Reverend. Actually I consider it wrong. (And I have no objection to using titles as a sign of respect. I will quite cheerfully address clergy as “Mr.” or “Ms.”, “Dr.”, “Pastor” is okay too. But not “Rev.” Although the verse I’m building this off of is “Call no man Father” and I have no objection to calling priests ‘Father.'” I never claimed to make a whole lot of sense.)
I’ve often thought we could learn a lot from life in monasteries. The monastery needs to have priests around, and so they send off some of the brothers for further study/ordination and then they come back to serve their brothers in that way. They don’t need everyone to be a priest. However, for 90% of the time, there is no distinction between what the monks who are priests do and what the other monks do. There is a separation in (certain) functions, but there is not a separation in the community. It seems to me there’s a lot to be said for that model.



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Kristen

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm


aack #25 was me. Sorry.



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T

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:28 pm


Keith,
In all sincerity, I don’t think my point contributes to the problem being discussed. The issue that I thought Scot raised was one of certain pastors lacking a sense of sacredness about their role and lives, as evidenced in these church sites. With that–the point of the post, I think–I agree. My point is that on this issue of failing to talk or act without “the overwhelming sense of God’s call upon a life that reaches so deep that everything becomes holy,” why stop with pastors? All of us should act and talk with “the overwhelming sense of God’s call upon a life that reaches so deep that everything becomes holy.”
We have far more verses of scripture directed towards whole fellowships of believers that express the very annoyance Scot did than those that single out pastors on the issue. What’s more, on the whole, I don’t think our chief problem in the church right now is that pastors aren’t viewed or treated, even by themselves, as sacred. A bigger problem is that next to nothing and no one is viewed as sacred, the intended scope of Christ’s redemption notwithstanding. In my experience, a healthy appreciation for the sacredness of one’s calling in life–the kind Scot wanted to see on these sites–is still far, far more common among clergy than among laity. In fact, I know so few non-pastors with that sense of total redemption that it is saddening; it’s as if only clergy feel permission to see themselves as completely and sacredly called by God for use in this world. Again, certainly pastors ought to be leading the way on demonstrating how to properly revere one’s life in light of what Jesus has done to redeem it and ought to revere the task they have been given, but the motivation and purpose of that work is that the vast bulk of the gift and call to sacredness that God is issuing applies to the whole earth. That’s all I was attempting to say (however clumsily), and I don’t think that diminishes pastors’ sacredness at all.
However, I do think the view you expressed that a person in menial work is, by definition, not called or led by God to that work, but only hired by men, does contribute to the sense most laity have that the bulk of their time and effort in this world is simply outside of the purposes of God. Pastors don’t need to compare the “sacredness” of their calling in life to that of non-pastors in order to appropriately see their own calling as sacred, and for them to act like it.



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Travis Greene

posted January 5, 2009 at 3:35 pm


I don’t like the argument that the priesthood of all believers means the pastor’s calling isn’t “better, just different”, when that “just different” calling comes with special titles and decorum and pomp and circumstance and seats of honor and special access to God.
If this is a problem at all (I’m quite dubious), it’s a problem of the celebritization of pastors.
Scot, you’re right that the priesthood of all believers doesn’t mean hyper-individualistic rejection of authority. But it also doesn’t mean the outsourcing of our spiritual life to a special class of religious professionals.
My church’s website (http://www.emmausway.net/) doesn’t even have bio pages for our leadership, so I guess we avoid your ire.



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Keith

posted January 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm


Re: comment #27
T,
The problem Scot raised (as I understood it) was one where Pastors were too informal about their calling. I was stating that if pastor considers their calling as merely a job or working at a church that this contributes to the problem. If some insist on talking about ?hiring? the pastor, then this underscores the consumer mindset within the church that most Christians rightfully oppose. With a consumer mindset, ?If I help to hire the pastor through giving to the church, then I feel I am entitled to receive the ?goods and services? I pay for within the church.?
What also contributes to the problem is when a pastor?s different calling within the life of the church is confused with every Christian?s calling (I am not implying anything elitist here) to live a life of integrity within the jobs some are called to. I agree that many may see their ?jobs? outside the purpose of God but I do not believe they are. Their calling to live a life of integrity through modeling Christ in the marketplace is vital to the ministry of the good news? of Christ. The issue is not about comparing ?sacredness? it is about celebrating the importance of the different calling within the body of Christ.



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Chaplain Mike

posted January 5, 2009 at 4:28 pm


Travis, you make your point, but one still has to deal with texts like Hebrews 13.7 and 1Thess 5.12-13, which speak of people who are “over you in the Lord,” and are thus deserving of a kind of respect not owed to every believer.



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Rick in Texas

posted January 5, 2009 at 4:30 pm


On one hand, I want to say that my dream job is the one I now occupy, because I want people to know I am passionate about and thankful for the role I now occupy. But the truth is my dream job is pastoral ministry – into which I invested seminary plus 15 years, and to which I hope to return as God opens the way.
I find the “about me” pages you describe annoying and cloying. Pastor, I am far less interested in what is on your ipod, what your favorite movie is, or your favorite restaurant is or your dream vacation, than you think I am. I want to hear how God is moving in your life.
This issue is merely the church playing the same silly, shallow, callow game that popular culture plays. It goes at least back to the question asked of Bill Clinton in 1992: “Boxers or briefs?”. He should not have dignified the stupid question with a reply, and pastors should have something better to give the world than their ipod playlist.



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Your Name

posted January 5, 2009 at 4:49 pm


RJS (#12),
I’m totally OK with a pastor who share how he or she is or has struggled. What I always have a problem with is a sort of “aw, shucks, I’m just like you” attitude. If the pastor was just like me or the person sitting next to me, they would be an accountant or salesperson or something. But part of the job of the pastor is to help us find ways through the struggles. His own, ours, whomever. But just hanging out with us in the muck as a normal way of being rather than a stage you’re working to get through seems not right to me. So, I guess I would say that I’m more than OK with the pastor who stands up and says, “you know, I’m going through a hard time right now. Some of you can probably relate.” It’s the pastor who wants to buddy up with me in the muck that I have an issue with. I don’t need a buddy in the muck – I need a leader who has either gone up ahead to find the way out or is earnestly working on it.



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Sue Van Stelle

posted January 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm


Maybe it’s difficult for pastors to “own” the sacredness of their calling when people like George Barna claim that the pastoral office is pagan and people blame the office of pastor for most of what is wrong with the church today.
I want my pastor to be approachable and real, but also to be serious about understanding the role he/she plays in leading a congregation. From what I understand, the role of pastor is a valid one, yet a role that often gets twisted and abused. I like what Todd Hunter often says, “The solution for wrong use is not no use, but right use.”
I guess that would mean that it’s time to articulate (or re-articulate) a biblical role of the pastor, and instead of projecting all of our personal preferences on that role, start with God’s intent, and adjust our expectations accordingly.
A tall order? Of course! But it already seems there’s been some success at re-articulating the Gospel, (by people much smarter than me) so maybe the role of the pastor is up next?



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AprilK

posted January 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm


Scot — Perhaps I misunderstood your intention. Whenever I even hear a hint of “a pastor should do or be _____” coming from someone I tend to get defensive. I’m sure you’re familiar with Barna’s statistics on the effects leading a church has on a pastor and his family. I’ve lived those and that’s why I get defensive and overreacted. However, after re-reading it I have to agree with T and Travis Greene. It *sounds like* the problem is that being a pastor is such a special calling it should be taken more seriously.
The “what’s on your iPod” questions actually are an attempt to either 1) market the church based on the personalities of the pastor and staff (guilty of doing that myself when I ran the website of a church plant that I no longer belong to), or 2) to bridge the gap between clergy and laity.
I guess I agree that the bios are silly. I disagree about why they’re silly. I think my calling to non-ordained unpaid ministry is just as sacred and important as my own father’s calling to ordained ministry as Sr Pastor of a church. I don’t deny the existence, necessity, or importance of gifts of pastor, teacher, leader, etc. But the office of pastor as it exists today doesn’t reflect my understanding of what Scripture teaches about those gifts.



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John W Frye

posted January 6, 2009 at 2:07 am


When pastoring mutated from soul care to the art of communication (the sermon), we lost the compassion side of pastoring and began to look for speaking talent primarily and charisma. The tedious but high calling to spiritual direction got lost in the sweep of the communications industry–the show.
Also, as noted above, there is a contingent of voices minimizing the calling of pastor under the guise of “down with institutionalism, down with structure, down wth clergy.”
Many pastors can’t name the sheep under their care except their closest friends. Jesusm the good shepherd, knows his sheep by name. But, hey, let’s not go there, right?



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Your Name

posted January 6, 2009 at 12:42 pm


We live in an era of the informal, an impact of the 1960s.
Bit of Clarification: The SECOND 1960s, commonly called The Sixties (TM).
Before The Sixties, there was a Forgotten First 1960s, a transition from the Nifty Fifties before the counterculture reached critical mass and “Sauron got The Ring”. The First 1960s of the New Frontier, Man on the Moon, early James Bond movies, Laugh-In, and Original Star Trek.



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Geoff

posted January 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm


I wonder if it has something to do with a real or percieved loss of authority. It seems to me that pastors held a position of respect and their views and advice was taken with some weight. Now it seems there is very little positional authority or even relational authority. Maybe pastors are reaching out to try and find some way to have influence and get through into people’s lives. I would prefer that there be a change in both pastors and congregations. 1) for pastors to take their sacred calling more seriously and the role they play. As well, for the congregation to again recognize this role and allow pastors to operate in it. I know lik others have pointed out, the abuse of this role has led to a distrust for those in positions of leadership in church, but, what are we to do throw out the church? Ignore the annointed leaders in them? Where will that lead us? Humility on both side would help. Huble pastors leading under God’s guidance in a holy fear, and humble congregants partnering with their leadership to keep in mind what this is all about anyway…



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John W Frye

posted January 6, 2009 at 3:40 pm


Scot,
It might be worth some study and conversation to discern the shape and calling of “the pastor” in the emerging church.



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Travis Greene

posted January 6, 2009 at 3:42 pm


Chaplain Mike @ 29,
The Hebrews verse seems to me to be about dead people. The audience is told to “remember” their leaders, who taught them, and how they lived their lives. Good advice, but I don’t see how we get from that to treating pastors like foreign dignitaries.
Thessalonians is similarly talking about leaders and those older or more advanced in the faith than oneself. We should listen to, honor, and respect our elders.
I’m not arguing against leadership, but against a special elevated class of gifted religious rock stars. In short, I believe in leadership, not ordination.



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Thomas E. Ward

posted January 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm


Scot –
Thanks for this post. You have the tone of Eugene Peterson or, perhaps, Paul in one of his letters to Timothy. I so appreciate what you’ve said here and was greatly helped by your commentary.
Tom



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Jim Martin

posted January 7, 2009 at 6:53 am


Scot,
I’m behind in reading your posts this week but do want to chime in on this one. You make a very good point. Why the absence of references to pastoring/ministry in the bio’s is interesting. I just read John Frye’s comments and would very much echo what he said.
I suspect there are multiple reasons for this. I do think that some of us seem to go to great lengths to communicate to others in our churches that we are ok–not a weird, odd, or stiff pastor/minister. Yet, I think we might be careful that in our attempt to relate and connect (with the best of motives) that we do not lose a sense of the sacredness of our calling or purpose for doing this kind of ministry.
Good thoughts and timely as we are actually redoing the bio’s on our website.



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Chaplain Mike

posted January 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm


Travis–“treating pastors like foreign dignitaries”? “a special elevated class of gifted religious rock stars”? I’m not sure I or anyone else who is asking pastors and churches to take the pastoral role a little bit more seriously is suggesting anything like that!
I simply maintain that a calling to “shepherd” one’s brethren is worthy of a certain unique kind of respect. Of course, all callings should be respected as well, and no calling relieves any of us from the “one another” exhortations of the N.T. under Christ.
Besides, it seems to me that those who are seeking to be “rock stars” are the ones who are trying so hard to be cool and relevant.



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Doug Allen

posted January 7, 2009 at 10:05 pm


There’s another slant to this informality/cultural conformity problem. When a group of us met with Reinhold Niebuhr almost 50 years ago, he said the church (and by implication, the pastor) should comfort the disturbed and disturb the confortable. This requires both seriousness, courage, and the wisdom to know the difference, to draw from another quote by Niebuhr. To be a pastor must be one of the hardest jobs in the world, especially in churches where your job is based on the approval of the church members. If in addition, if you have to hoe an orthodox line based on church superiors understandings or misunderstandings, I can understand how informality/cultural conformity coolness might be your path to personal and job survival.
Doug



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Erik

posted January 10, 2009 at 8:26 pm


Scot…You hit the nail on the head by saying that the sense we hear today of being real and authentic doesn’t mean we devalue the pastoral calling of its sanctity.
Let’s hope the Pastoral bar goes up a notch or two in the sanctity arena.



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LW

posted January 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm


I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been in the process of looking for a church home and I don’t even visit churches that view the websites as a place to play. If they aren’t serious on their website, then they aren’t serious in the services. I don’t have time to waste.



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chad m

posted January 31, 2009 at 7:30 pm


great post Scot! i often wonder who church websites are designed for. who is the target audience? i think this makes a difference in how we talk about ourselves, our ministries, etc. maybe getting away from the “churchy” language is an attempt to be accommodating to non-believers, but i wonder how many non-believers are out there looking for churches and doing so through web searches. in my opinion, websites are for members, attenders, and visitors. the church website is for Christians who are looking for more info about your church. we better be able to use language of call, passion, etc for these readers. great post!



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Scott Carpenter

posted September 8, 2009 at 4:57 pm


We are a family oriented non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the Word of God through Teaching, Drama, and Music for the purpose of “Building Strong Families One Heart At A TIme”.
We were wondering if there was anywhere on your site we could place our web address for pastors and church folk to see.
Thank you
Scott Carpenter
http://www.carpenterministry.com



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Henry

posted April 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm


His requires both seriousness, courage, and the wisdom to know the difference, to draw from another quote by Niebuhr. I think what he is referring to is detailed at this medicine blog. To be a pastor must be one of the hardest jobs in the world, especially in churches where your job is based on the approval of the church members. If in addition, if you have to hoe an orthodox line based on church superiors understandings or misunderstandings



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Virtual Girl

posted June 9, 2011 at 5:49 am


Great post, I’ve the same things…



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Carlos Ibarra

posted February 9, 2012 at 10:15 am


I’m 15 and iv’e been prophesied that i’m going to be a future pastor. But i kind’ve need help because I don’t wan’t to be a normal Pastor I want to be a Pastor that serves God with all God with all his heart and soul.



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Nsai Jude Ngaberi

posted May 26, 2012 at 7:33 am


Give your life today to Christ and see what future got towards you



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