Theology of Pastoral Ministry
I want to speak to pastoral care in the context of ministry within the role of serving as a pastor. So here I wish to bullet a few points to consider.
• Too often the image of a pastor is built around a “leader-executive” role, but not that of a shepherd. The pastor is expected to focused on getting butts in the pews and bucks in the plate, not so much about growing in grace or in knowledge of Christ. That’s not image from Scripture but from culture.
• The word “pastor” is the Latin word for shepherd that the King James translators choose to insert for the Greek word “shepherd” in Ephesians 4:11. Being a pastor is being a shepherd. Shepherding is the model of a pastoral calling, regardless of the specific role. One can be the pastor of a church parish or a pastor within the chaplaincy role at an institution, but the model is still shepherding.
• My theological conviction is that God’s calling on the life of pastor in the parish role is to be a “shepherd-teacher” as set-forth in Ephesians 4:11. The context and use of the word “and” in the Greek language is an “an and as in also” and not “an and as in and something different.” The gift is the same in function.
• In understanding Ephesians 4:11 the role of pastor in the congregational church is in fulfilling God’s purpose of leading His people into a learning and growing relationship with Him. I would personally filter the pastoral purpose through the objective of 2 Peter 3:18 helping people “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
• I have found a great deal of personal contentment in having a clear identity for what God has for me in ministry as a Shepherd rather than as an Executive. That’s not to say that a pastor doesn’t operate in an executive mode or won’t need to make executive decisions. It is to say that I have personally found the Shepherd model to be less stressful and more fulfilling and more about the Good Shepherd than about any skills set I can offer.
• Another aspect of holding a theology of pastoral ministry and being a “shepherd-teacher” is the consideration of Acts 6:4, which is stated as Apostles calling to the work of “prayer and ministry of the word.”