The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XV
Pastoring, nurturing, developing, and caring for someone is a process; something that continues in time with a relationship. When one first becomes a parent, he/she does not realize that they are now a parent “for the rest of their lives”. One’s roles may change during the process, but those they are parenting will always look up to them for what they have done and are doing. It is continual, often seeming never ending!
The way parishioners have been wired to think of pastors and pastoring throughout the last couple of centuries must be revamped, retooled. Our mindset of a “pastor” has been one of a paid professionally trained man of God who tends to his/her flock. Their assumed and unofficial job description is to care for the flock. Because of their title, we expect them to be and do all things: an evangelist, an orator, a Biblical scholar, a counselor, a person to perform life cycle services like christening, weddings, and funerals, a business man, a director, a teacher, a person always in touch with God, an overseer, etc., etc. I have no idea how a person can be gifted and prepared for all those areas and do them effectively alone, but that is the assumed job description, plus more.
I believe we need to have a mindset change. That is why I would rather refer “pastoring” as “shepherding” so the stereotype mindset disorder will not interfere with what we all should be doing, and some with passion. Every believer should help nurture those younger than themselves in the Lord, who are less fortunate, or in need, for there are times we fall in and out of all those categories. Printed on our Statue of Liberty is “No Man Is An Island; No Man Stands Alone.” If the secular world knows that principle, the Christian world needs to understand and practice it as the “Body of Christ”, and pastoring/shepherding is a key component of that principle.
The Christian community, the Body of Christ, has always been a caring, nurturing, developing community when the “pastoral/shepherding” spirit is alive, recognized, supported, and active. It is a community of “grace”, “mercy”, extending “forgiveness”, and providing “protection”. When you remove the “pastoral/shepherding” spirit, this same community can become accusatory rather than a listening ear, vindictive rather than giving goodness, judgmental, shooting their wounded rather than providing healing. Many Christians who church-hop have been victims of an environment that lost its “pastoral/shepherding” spirit. Other Christians, who place their hope in the new “pastor” who is only short term, or who falls, or who does not meet their unrealistic expectations, also become hurt because of the loss of the “pastoral/shepherding” spirit.
So what should our mindset be? What retooling needs to be done? Of course with any revival or reformation, it begins with “me”, my recognition that a pastoral/shepherding spirit resides in me because the ultimate Pastor/Shepherd, Jesus resides in me. I, as a believer in Jesus Christ, a Christian, need to realize that I am my brother’s keeper. I am to “love my neighbor as myself.” I, like Jesus, “cares” for you, me, my neighbor, even my enemy.
With that comes the recognition that there are those who have a passion, a desire, a drive to serve through caring, nurturing, developing one into Christ likeness through compassion and love. These believers in Christ we need to learn to release in their passion of caring, nurturing, and developing with encouragement and support any way we can. Shepherding can be a Body ministry of many individual believers pouring the love of Christ into a person in many ways as they develop and grow in Christ. Pastoring/Shepherding is all about relationships, so the more healthy relationships one can develop in Jesus, the healthier we will be physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
When the Church retools its craft of Pastoring/Shepherding, it will be done through relationships: caring relationships, nurturing relationships, and developmental relationships. Wow, a challenge for the Church and its mindsets as the Holy Spirit retools.