The role of the pastor of a local church is unique in some ways from other believers’ and yet has many things also in common with them. It is helpful here to draw a distinction between the church member and the Senior Pastor of the local church; that is, the one who is called to be the overseer of the body of believers.
In Ephesians 4:11ff a distinction of giftedness is made by Paul between those who have leadership gifts and those who are gifted in other ways. According to this passage of Scripture, the purpose of the gifts to be pastors, evangelists, apostles, etc are for the equipping of the saints for service; to build up the Body of Christ. I have heard it said by a mentor of mine that the pastor’s job is to work himself out of a job. By this he meant that the role of the pastor is such that he is working to attune himself to the word of God and understand it so thoroughly that he may communicate it to the congregation in order that they may in turn be moved to service.
The role of the pastor is not to do everything in ministry, but to delegate everything in ministry by the natural process of preaching, teaching, and leading by example. The pastor should be diligent in seeking out those whom God would have take leadership roles in the church and pour himself into such people so multiplication of leadership can occur.
Another facet of this equipping is shepherding the flock of God, as Peter writes in Scripture. The pastor is to give vision and direction for the congregation, which will also occur naturally as he spends much time in prayer and in the Word of God. Each congregation is made up of diverse gifts and talents on many differing levels. God has a specific calling for each local body of believers to make disciples and yet that will look different in every church. The pastor should be shepherding his congregation into the truth of God’s word and away from dangerous false teaching. He ought to be a gentle and nurturing care giver in this regard in order for the congregation to grow in trust with this leader.
1 Timothy 3 discusses the qualifications of the overseer, which refers to this office of the pastor, or shepherd. The overseer does just what the word says, over sees the congregation. In a sense this ties together the previous two aspects into a more formal, administrative role. This term denotes a sense of organizational skill and being able to manage people and resources well. The pastor must be aware of the church’s happenings, no matter how insignificant in order to maintain a sense of order and organization. The overseer is responsible to God for every person in his congregation and therefore must take great care to pray without ceasing for wisdom and guidance and be constantly studying the Word of God.
In conclusion, the Role of the Pastor is to equip the body of believers for the work of the ministry. He is to do so by understanding and communicating the Word of God in such a way that the congregation gains an understanding of their role in ministry and service to Christ. He also has the role of shepherd; to teach correct doctrine and protect the congregation from false teaching. Lastly, the Role of the Pastor is to be the overseer of the local church, the responsible administrator who maintains order and organization so that the church can function efficiently and effectively.
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