The Naked Pastor

I always feel a little sorry for the Emperor – why doesn't anyone tell him he's got no clothes!

Peter Baker | 09:15, Thursday, 10 November 2011

Well, I can’t say I haven't been warned by Jon Zens in his book The Pastor has No Clothes.  The New Testament sees right through those of us in ministry with such offices, he says. Here's a book designed to debunk the myth of a pastor-controlled church in favour of a Christ-centred model.

No arguments from me on that at one level although, rather like the more recent trend of books about 'I hate Church but love Jesus', it's an analysis which is a rather tired cliché by now.

So comment about hierarchical, man-centred leadership patterns needs to be read with one eye on the very positive way in which Scripture addresses the ministry of the Pastor. 

A "noble task" Paul calls the role of the Elder.  Appointed as a gift to the Church (among others) by the ascended Christ is the pastor-teacher of Ephesians 4.

So maybe I don’t need to give up my day (24/7) job after all! Perhaps there is something valuable about who I am and what I do. 

I meet many pastors who, for whatever reason, feel shot at and got at. Books with sound bite titles like this don't help although I would advise against judging the contents by the cover.

Some of my colleagues have retired wounded from battle because of injuries sustained through friendly fire. No-one’s saying the Pastor is perfect (at least no-one who knows me!) and no-one who has read their Bible can leave it without acknowledging that the Pastor, whether paid or not, full time or not, should be part of a team. It’s also incontrovertible that the traditional clergy-laity divide is unhealthy and unbiblical. 

But I actually think there needs to be a renewal of respect for and understanding of the pastor’s role in the UK Church scene.

Might it just be that one of the reasons for the fall in ordination numbers is that the perceived value and status of the Minister is at an all time low? In such a sceptical climate, no self-respecting man nowadays with intelligence and prospects would dare sacrifice his life on the altar of a 'job' in the Church. ("Let others do that full-time thing. Why not continue instead to earn a really good salary, preach the occasional sermon and serve in some voluntary capacity?") 

There’s less hassle in such a scenario, except the nagging feeling that, just maybe, I may want the penny and the bun!


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