Sunday, February 1, 2015

Christian Clergy: Managers & Leaders v. Pastors

     This month I have written two articles about managers and leaders. One is under my blog, Dr. Rob's Podium, and takes a secular approach to this topic. Here in the second article, I am extending that post to the local church. So, it would behoove the reader to first read my article, "Managers and Leaders."
     In this present blog, my basic argument is this: Churches today have too many clergy that are managers and leaders, but not pastors. That is, we have many clergy that are managers who see their job primarily in terms of running a religious organization with a here-and-now focus on church issues. At the same time, there are a fewer number of clergy who are leaders and builders who take a future orientation on the organization, while at the same time have developed management skills in running a large church. Such men often have built up a church into a mega-church.
     The problem arises when such pastors take a managerial and leadership perspective that neglects the pastoral role needed in all churches. In a previous blog, "Pastors: an endangered species," I wrote about the need for more pastors in our churches. I argued that,
"Most clergy I know are preachers, builders, managers, and some are scholars, but few are pastors. A pastor is one who shepherds a people. ...Pastoring is personal, while preaching, building, and managing are all personal at best only to a few in the church who work with the pastor in these endeavors."
     What happens when we include a clergy's orientation towards the future? Those that do not have a future orientation and do not include the personal element in their ministry can be regarded as managers. They work very hard, but their ministry is mostly formal. I have known quite a few such clergy, and suspect they may be in the majority of clergy in evangelical churches in the United States today.
     Clergy who have a future orientation can be either leaders/builders or transformers. One might ask, "Aren't leaders those who transform their organization or society?" The answer is that they, indeed, can be transformers, but more often are not. Transformers are rare.
     Those clergy who are leaders, but not transformers, have a future orientation towards their organization, and seek to become professionals in order to grow their organization. However, the focus of such a leader is often on growing their respective church organizations in order to transform society, not on transforming society by way of discipling individuals. Indeed, such leaders may have discipleship and mentoring programs as a means to grow their churches, but take an impersonal approach to such endeavors. They have such a big-picture orientation that church members, as individuals, are left out of their focus. Although such individuals are a minority among clergy, they are more numerous, I suspect, than clergy who are transformers.  
     Indeed, clergy who are transformers have traits of managers, leaders, pastors and scholars. As managers, they have learned to manage their churches or rely on others to manage such organizations. As leaders, such clergy have a vision of their organizations and strategically work to achieve its mission. However, as transformers, they do not view success in terms of becoming a "big church." Why? It is because as pastors, they understand both the need for a strong personal element in discipleship, and that big organizations lose that element by the nature of being big. Max Weber, the German sociologist, noted that large organizations must be governed by impersonal rules enforced by individuals holding impersonal offices.
     To counter this problem, clergy often try to grow big organizations made up of small groups. Their goal is to build mega-churches with a personal touch. The problem is that such small-groups often lack real pastoring because they either lack the personal element needed in pastoring, or they lack other elements needed in pastoring such as theological training, interpersonal skills, etc. Thus, such small groups are sheep without a personal shepherd (Mark 6:34).
     I believe in the role of lay pastors in a church and think such positions need to be expanded. However, such callings cannot be made through organizational systems made up of impersonal rules, which are the very characteristics of large organizations. Such lay pastors must have extensive theological and interpersonal training beyond that provided by most churches. People qualified for such positions are rare because it requires both an intellectual and interpersonal orientation, as well as extensive mentoring by a pastor. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul noted that individual Christians do not possess all of the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit in the Church (see I Corinthians chapter 12), which means God has not called everyone to such roles.
     So, evangelical churches have many clergy who are managers. They do not have a future orientation towards their congregations or their organizations. Often, they have a strong internal focus without a true evangelical focus on preaching the gospel and making disciples outside their congregation.
     Although fewer in number than managers, there are many evangelical clergy who are leaders building large organizations governed by impersonal rules. Such churches have discipleship and mentoring programs run by lay leaders in the church who have inadequate theological and interpersonal training needed to make such programs spiritually successful.
     Still rarer are clergy who are transformers. These are the pastor-theologians who have elements of managers and leaders, but retain the personal element throughout their ministry along with a strong theological orientation. Such people see how people, ideas, and organization all go together. They do not shy away from the intellectual element of theology, but rather, seek to explain theological ideas in language accessible to their congregation. They also do not shy away from the personal element because they understand that discipleship cannot be accomplished through large impersonal organizations. Finally, they do not shy away from management because they realize that people need organization in order to support the mission our Lord Jesus gave us to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Sprit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV). If they do not have the gift of administration, they value and rely on others in their organization who have such skills (maybe deacons?). They certainly must have a future orientation to their ministry, seeing the mission of the church as a prophetic certainty (Matthew 16:18-19).
     Because clergy who are transformers do not focus on the size of their church, they often focus on building networks among churches within and between denominations, and as such are missionary-pastors who seek to expand the Kingdom of God on earth until Jesus returns.
     Clergy who are transformers are not simply managers and leaders. God calls clergy to be transformers. They transform their organizations and society through personal relationships on a small level. They are pastors and missionaries at the same time. Because of this, they develop managerial and leadership skills, but such skills do not define their mission. They are more defined by their roles as pastors.
     We need more pastors in our churches.

     A book I recommend written by a member of the clergy is John Piper's, Brothers, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, Updated and Expanded Edition. My recommendation in no way implies an endorsement of my views by Rev. Piper.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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