Role of the Pastor
I believe that the New Testament (and not tradition, experience, pragmatics or preference) is the final authority on the role of the pastor in a New Testament church. I take the role of pastor very seriously, as I believe that I will one day give an account for those who I have been called to keep watch over (Hebrews 13:17), a church obtained with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). I believe that a long-term pastorate, if possible, is usually best for a church.
The office of pastor is one of the two existing scriptural offices of the church. The other is the office of deacon. They both serve important but different functions.
The basic role of a pastor is:
- to teach God's Word (Acts 6:2-4; 1 Timothy 3:2, 4:6-16, 5:17, 6:2b; 2 Timothy 2:1-2, 2:14-15, 2:24-25, 4:1-5; Titus 1:9, 2:1, 2:7, 2:15; Hebrews 13:7; Jeremiah 3:15).
- to equip the saints for the work of the ministry and present them mature in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 1:28).
- to exercise spiritual oversight over the local church (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:5, 5:17; Titus 2:15; 1 Peter 5:1-5).
- to pray for the sick when called upon (James 5:14).
The abundance of Scripture references reveals that the task of teaching the Word is primary for a pastor. Teaching is the primary way in which a pastor will exercise spiritual oversight over the congregation. His teaching of sound doctrine provides instruction which leads to unity and maturity (Ephesians 4:11-12). Such teaching also includes correcting false doctrine so that people might come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26). This teaching is not limited to preaching, though the preached word should remain central in the life of the church. The teaching of the pastor may include discipleship classes, Bible studies, personal discipleship training, personal or corporate instruction in the practice of spiritual disciplines, and written materials, etc.
Because the task of teaching is so important to the role of the pastor and the health of the church, a pastor should work hard at preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17). He should be diligent and devoted in the task of teaching and practicing sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:15-16). Preaching, teaching, leading, counseling, and instructing in the faith from the Word should consume the majority of his efforts.
The congregation should desire and expect the Word of God to be taught to them. They should seek to protect and encourage their pastors' time for study, prayer, and preparation. Such an attitude will be rewarded through the fruits of his labors and blessed by God.
Because the pastorate carries with it such weighty responsibilities, godliness is imperative. The pastor must demonstrate godliness to those inside and outside of the church. Therefore, Scripture gives moral qualifications for the pastor (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9). I am committed, by the grace of God, to holding myself to these qualifications and believe that I meet them.