What is the Pastor’s Relationship With the Congregation?

“Pastor” derives from the Latin “pastor” meaning “shepherd.” Perhaps the best example is to be found in the 23rd Psalm.  The prophets of the Old Testament warned of shepherds who took advantage of the sheep:

  1. Jeremiah 50:6“My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have
    led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered
    over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.
  2. Zechariah 11:16For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not
    care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed
    the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off
    their hooves.

New International Version (NIV)

Each of the above examples of bad shepherding is summarized  by Jesus when he warned of wolves in sheep’s garb.

Jesus  taught a parable of the lost sheep, describing the role of the good “pastor” or  shepherd:

Luke 15:4

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred  sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open  country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

New  International Version (NIV)

In  our churches, we frequently consider that the pastor serves our desires and  needs.  However, when referring to himself,  Jesus said, “I was sent only to the Lost of Israel.”  Matthew 15:24.  See, also, Matthew 10:6.

Jesus  refers to himself as the “good shepherd:

John 10:11-12

11 “I am the good shepherd.   The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired  hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf  coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock  and scatters it.

New  International Version (NIV)

In his self-reference, Jesus becomes a model for the role of the pastor to both  his congregation and the surrounding community.  His or her role is not to look to his or her own interests but to save the  lost.

As has been stated  previously, for Methodists the Discipline provides for the role of the  pastor.  That may be found at http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=2266511&ct=3351793&notoc=1

For an excellent article on the pastor as shepherd, see http://www.opc.org/new_horizons/NH02/05d.html.  In it, the author, T. David Gordon, shares my rising concern over the past 20-30 years of the rise of the church as a business and of the pastor, not as a loving shepherd, but as a CEO.

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