The Neglected Role of The Pastor
How To Break Growth Barriers is a paradigm shifting book for many. I love being a pastor. I particularly love the pastoral tasks of teaching, preaching, and one-on-one discipleship. I greatly enjoy seeing many people come to faith in Christ and become fully-functioning followers of Christ. What slowly becomes a frustration in a growing church is that these elements (evangelism and discipleship) can seem to be in competition when reality they are not.
The Scriptures give various descriptions and commands to the office of Pastor such as:
- Do the work of an evangelist
- Entrust these things to faithful men
Carl F. George and Warren Bird hone in on these last two aspects (Overseer and teaching faithful men) of the pastoral office. The roles of evangelist, shepherd, and teacher are emphasized very heavily in the seminaries and bible colleges and rightfully so as these must be lived out as an example to the flock, but many of us did not receive much teaching on the aspects of overseeing the structure church and developing leaders.
The authors make the case that many churches fail to grow not because local pastors don’t love their people or are not being faithful but because they reach personal capacity. No man can do it all, so they call for Pastors to think more like equippers than doers.
Regardless of one’s opinion of intentional church growth strategies, every pastor must read chapter 9 which addresses the subtle pastoral sins such as pride and finding our identity in doing it all. This chapter entitled, “Multiplying by Releasing” calls us to stop loving ourselves and instead love others by training the few to reach the many. How many of our ministries do not grow because we think that no-one can do the job better than us, or because we are workaholics, or because we are living in the fear of man rather than the fear of God.
I have been challenged to reorient my thinking and am committing to asking myself regularly “how can I train the few to reach the many?” and “is my idol of ministry getting in the way of the whole body doing ministry?”
Note: I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.