Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Primary Tasks of the Pastor

Why must pastoral care be expressed through the primary tasks of preaching, administration and equipping the laity? Within the demands of pastoral care are three primary tasks – preaching, administration, and equipping the laity. All of these responsibilities are important aspects of the role of pastor and all three should not be overlooked or sidestepped. The pastor must not neglect his or her job. Within these three responsibilities is seen the three pastoral roles which were covered in Dr. Leth’s Theology of Ministry course. The three roles of the pastor that were related to us are those of Prophet, Priest, and King. All three of these roles have a Scriptural basis in that all three of these roles are seen in the figure of Christ. The pastor is the representative of Christ to the congregation, so it would make sense that the pastor would have these same three offices that are seen in Christ. The three primary tasks of pastoral care may be recognized within the context of these three pastoral roles – Prophet, Priest, and King.

The Prophetic role of pastoral ministry is best displayed in the act of preaching. Those who are gifted in a prophetic way are skilled in relaying information and the truths of the Gospel in a way that will resonate with the hearers. They can speak in a way that will inspire those who listen. They are gifted in their usage of words, knowing how to simplify something in order to make it easy to understand, and knowing how extrapolate what has already been said in a way that cause the hearer to get a glimpse of the bigger picture. The Prophet is a visionary, a dreamer; one who motivates, captivates, and challenges the hearer. The prophetic role of the pastor may be seen in the preaching of the pastor, which is one of the three primary tasks of pastoral care. The prophetic role may come across in other ways as well, such as in writing, music, or the visual arts. However, not all pastors are gifted in these particular ways. Most pastors, though, do preach. This is one of the pastor’s primary tasks.

The priestly role of the pastor may be seen in the way the pastor interacts on a personal level with the congregation. It is seen in the development of relationships. The pastor must be friend to his people. Also, it is only through personal interaction with the people, as opposed to simply preaching various messages from the pulpit, that the pastor will be able to train the people and give them proper guidance and instruction. When the people listen to the sermons given from the pulpit on a Sunday morning they are only receiving part of their proper training in the faith. In order to fully equip the congregation, the pastor must invest in the lives of his or her people. The pastor must be willing to sit with them, eat with them, laugh with them, grieve with them, converse with them; listening to the wisdom that they may have to share with them as well as sharing with them at the proper times the wisdom which God has given them in the pastoral role. When the pastor properly equips the laity it must be done in such a way that is communal. The pastor must be available to his or her people. The pastor must be willing to listen to their questions as well as giving them answers to those questions. The pastor must work with the people as they wrestle through whatever questions they may have and labor with them as they make their way to the conclusions to which they will come, pointing them in the right direction the whole time and bringing them to a place where they can discern what is the will of God themselves within the context of community. Of course, there are always those within the congregation who tend to not interact with others in the church all that often. For the most part, their involvement with the church is limited to their participation in the Sunday morning worship service. It is difficult for the pastor to equip these particular people in an efficient way. One has to remember that while equipping the laity is the pastor’s responsibility, it is also the responsibility of the people in the church to take some action in that they must be willing to be equipped and to learn and to grow. For those within the congregation who only attend church services on Sunday morning and who are less likely to be actively involved in the church, the preaching responsibility of the pastor is important. The sermon that the pastor preaches on Sunday morning may in fact be the only spiritual direction that these people receive during the week. So it is important that the pastor preaches for this reason as well. Not all people wish to interact on a personal level with the pastor or they find it easier to listen to the pastor preach rather than having an actual conversation with the pastor himself.

The third role seen within the responsibilities of the pastor is the role of administrator. The pastor must practice administration within his or her ministry. The role of administration is a reflection of the role of King within the three roles of the pastor. Administration is something that I would not consider to be one of my own personal strong points as far as the three roles of the pastor are concerned. I know that there are many pastors who feel this way as well. However, we must all remember that administration is a very important part of the pastor’s responsibilities. The administrative role must not be given to someone else in the church. While others may indeed help with administration the pastor must not give up his right and his obligation to lead the church in this way. It would not be right for him to hand over this responsibility to someone else. It is definitely a good thing, however, for the pastor to delegate responsibilities to other people, but this must be done without handing over the complete authority of his office and the administrative responsibilities in which he must necessarily participate over to someone else to take care of.

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