Duties of a Pastor Pt.1

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What Pastors Do

Week #1 – A Clarification


My family chat topic, along with my blog post for the next few weeks, will concern the role of a pastor. What does a pastor do? What should he do? Opinions are like hands. Most of us have a couple, but that doesn't make them all right.


I'm going to go at this from my self-understanding, which is based on scripture and a career of experience. I'll try to arrange it in some hierarchy of importance, though there's room for debate on that.


Before we jump into the duties of a pastor, I want to begin with a clarification. It's one we try to get across often, but I find people are slow to pick up on it.


As a pastor, I am an elder in the church. That is simply the biblical teaching. There really is no room for debate. Elders pastor. Pastors shepherd. Both terms are interchangeable with the word "overseer."


There is a biblical distinction between elders who make their living by this work and those who do it on a volunteer basis. So, Paul writes to the Corinthians, "In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:14 ESV) To the Galatians, he writes, "Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches." (Gal. 6:6 ESV) And to Timothy, he writes,  "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." (1 Tim. 5:17 ESV)


I did not quote all that to make an argument about salaries. The point is, a pastor is an elder and vice versa, though some are engaged full-time for a wage, and others are doing it alongside other employment.


My role as a lead pastor is biblically the same as the other elders in our church, but I am a leader among peers. My duties are essentially the same, but I labor more intensely in the teaching and preaching areas. We will look more at that role in the following weeks.


In conclusion, the other men we call elders at Grace could just as easily be referred to as pastors. And it would not be wrong to call me an elder.  We tend to use the terms as a shorthand to distinguish seminary-trained, paid staff from unpaid volunteer elders. That's not a problem unless we import unbiblical ideas into it.


Next time we will look at the role of soul care.