The Pastoral Role In Modern America

Welcome back.

I’m going to deviate from the schedule I posted. You “Individualists” out there will have to wait until Monday.

My friend, Ocatvio Martinez, came over today and we spent some time discussing The 7 Ways of Leading. By the way, Octavio is the pastor of a church in Whittier, Ca called Sojourn. My world music band, doSul, will be having one of three CD release parties at the BlueBird Cafe in Whittier –hosted by Octavio– and then performing at his church on Sunday. Anyway, Octavio made a terrific observation about the 7 action logics that I feel merited a post and discussion. Here it is: the way the pastoral role is understood in America may actually pigeonhole leaders into the “diplomat-to-expert” range.

Few churches today really want leaders. They prefer chaplains who will oversee the status quo, a harmonizer who can keep the peace within the flock. They expect the pastor to please the “elders” or “deacons” or “the board” and the pastor believes that his holy mission is characterized by a humble submission to the wishes of the church. To comfort the afflicted is the calling of the Diplomatic pastor and to appease the powers that be.

On the other hand, congregations also expect the pastor to teach them something about the Bible. After all, that’s why they go to seminary. The pastor is the expert on the Bible, Business Meeting etiquette, and on what is supposed to happen during a wedding or a funeral. The Expert Pastor is supposed to know what the rest of us don’t.

What do you think?

  • Is it possible that the institutional church has squeezed out one of the things (i.e. leaders) it needs the most?
  • Has the church, seminary and pastorate allied in an unholy codependency that lower the bar on leadership within the Christ-following movement?
  • If the church squeezes out leaders, where will Christ following leaders go?
  • If the church squeezes out leaders, where will the prebelieving leaders we want to reach go?

On an interesting sidenote…One of our friends, James, who lives in Scotland has made me aware that his father at one time lived here in LA. He’s sent me the address and I am off on an adventure to photograph the spot and post it here on my blog. I usually post pictures of LA, my travels with friends and family, or my gigs with doSul, but hopefully on Monday I’ll have a pic of where James’ dad may have lived sometime around WWII. See you on Monday.

Into the Mystic…

Alex McManus
Los Angeles, Ca
© 2005

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