Yes, I took a long time in coming back to finish Part 2 of this thought process – my apologies. You can read Part 1 here and catch back up on where I was going with this, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And with saying that, I’m nervous I won’t be able to fully articulate what I’m feeling, but will do my best and look to hear your input.
I believe a key in killing the terminology of clergy and ridding ourselves of the separation between clergy and laity is no longer using the word ‘pastor.’ Wait…what? Let me explain…
1st – We are all pastors and we all have pastoral roles to play in our families, work places and circle of friends. We are all called into the priesthood of God’s Kingdom (mission) through our marriage with Christ and the Body. Thus we all have responsibility in loving, leading and caring for those we are gifted with the opportunity to have relationship with.
2nd – Because we don’t realize the 1st, we have done a poor job of fulfilling our role. I believe we are all theologians too, though most would never call themselves a theologian, we are nonetheless so. Because we are human we occupy a unique space in creation, being fully physical and fully spiritual. You can be no more ‘less human’ than you can be ‘less spiritual‘, which is exactly why throughout history humanity has struggled to grasp truth and either define or deny the existence of Deity. We are all theologians and we are all pastors and we need to start doing a better job of them.
3rd – This has all lead to an unhealthy and unbiblical set of expectations for those burdened with the title of ‘pastor’. I have written about this aspect on my other blog (here), but when pastors become superstars and anything more than just human (another person trying to figure out this journey of life), pain and hypocrisy are inevitable. When Catholic Priests molest young boys, it is not a sign that they weren’t ‘holy men,’ it’s just a sign of the same broken human condition we all share. And it is the same when a pastor has a moral failure – they were never more than human, though we allowed them to be, and in a lot of cases, we thrusted them onto the pedestal ourselves. We shouldn’t be ‘more devastated’ by their failure, we should be just as devastated by our own, remembering that sin is sin and we all fall short.
4th – So we must move from the title of pastor, to an understanding of leadership and influence. We need to have a more holistic understanding of what being a pastor means. We are all called to be disciple-makers and some are called to be apostles, some prophets, some teachers, some administrative, but we are all called. And changing our terminology will free the leaders of our local church communities to fit the role God designed for them and their passions. They will not have to conform to all the vague, unbiblical and unbalanced expectations that are encompassed in the title of ‘pastor.’ Instead, they will be free to lead us as they follow God and His calling for them – no longer having to pretend to be the marrying-burying-teaching-preaching-hospital-visiting-counseling-pastor the Church has come to expect of them.
So many more thoughts come to mind, but I’ll stop here and ask you for your thoughts…