Approximately 85% of churches in America have less than 200 people. 60% of churches are under 100 people. According to The Barna Group, the average size congregation in the U.S. is 89 people. In many situations in the Western church system, the pastor needs to be a Bible teacher, accountant, strategist, visionary, computer tech, counselor, public speaker, worship director, prayer warrior, mentor, leadership trainer, and fundraiser. (Super Pastor)
Here are some more interesting statistics that further expounds the problem with the Super Pastor Syndrome (SPS) prominent in the Western church system. (The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc. present these statistics)
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
- 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 85% of pastors said their greatest problem is they are tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors.
- The #1 reason pastors leave the ministry is that church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction, but the people are not willing to follow or change.
You Need To Know Where I Am Coming From
At this point, I’d like to explain my purpose for broaching this topic. The reason I initially became involved in the SPS was because I felt called by God to love Him and love/care for His people. Committing my life to this pursuit, I journeyed through the depths of the SPS at different levels. I’ve seen/experienced the thousands of people and millions of $$$ but I have also known the “work a full-time job to make a living and preach to 7 people on a Sunday morning” ministry.
It is important to add the following disclaimer because when you start talking the way I am talking and bring into question what people have known and hold dear, the two main responses are (1.) “Heretic!” (2.) “You’ve been hurt!”
In reference to #2 – I am a blessed man because although I did experience significant hurts/wounds from that SPS journey, over the past 13 years, I have walked with a Body of people who have effectively ministered to me, brought healing and provided clarification to my true calling and purpose in the Body of Christ. So, I am not mad at anybody. And, when I speak, I am not doing so out of hurt. The things that I say/write are a result of having the privilege of being in fellowship with a biblically-sound, corporate expression. One of my functions, which is a blessing, is to simply be a mouthpiece and speak/write the truth and revelation we have walked out in the Kingdom together.
As for answering #1, this one is the most fun! When you understand that a “heretic” is a person who maintains beliefs contrary to the teachings and practices of an established religious order, you realize that Jesus was the epitome of a heretic. His entire existence was opposing and annulling a religious order that had originally been established by God for His purposes and had been corrupted through the hands of men to accomplish their purposes. The key component of his heresy was commanding religious people to “Repent” (change from their thoughts over to God’s) because the rule of God (Kingdom) was to have preeminence!
However people choose to respond is okay with me. I’ve learned over the years not to take it personally because this is not about me. The reason I write the things I do is because “God’s people can be destroyed for lack of knowledge” and God desires His people to be free. God is after a maturity in His people; a Christ-likeness that is to be developed, not only in the individual believer, but, more importantly, in a corporate expression.
And for me, having walked through the SPS and now walking in the understanding of the Kingdom, the proof is in the puddin’! I’ve tasted the puddin’ represented by the statistics listed above. I much prefer the puddin’ of the Kingdom! (please forgive the metaphor!)
I am not seeking to “start a church“; Churches are birthed by God, not started by men. I am not intending to build a ministerial network; we are all subjects to a Kingdom, there is no need for segmented affiliation beyond that point. However, I long to serve brothers/sisters by whatever grace of Christ that has seeded in me so that they too can be equipped and released to function according to the grace of Christ given to them! I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it: God desires His people to be free; free, even from religious forms/systems that attempt to bear His name but are incapable of producing the results He desires. So, the reason I write these types of things is because I love God’s people and want them to be free and come to know Him and express Him in a greater way.
With that understanding, we can now move forward to understand scripture’s perspective of the
New Testament FUNCTION of Pastor.
There are two things I would like for us to consider moving forward from this point.
1.) The statistics which are listed at the top of this post are not my figures. I did not create them. The Super Pastor church system did. This is the fruit of of that particular function in the lives of the Pastors themselves. Question: If this is what is being produced in the Pastors………..what do you think is actually being produced in the People?
2.) In scripture, anytime you see God intend to “build” something that will be used in worship towards Him or to fulfill His purposes, He always gives specific details and instructions in what materials are to be used, how it is to be built and who is to build it. For example, Moses with the Tabernacle, Noah with the Ark, Solomon with the Temple. This principle remains as things are transitioned over into the New Testament and God clearly designates Jesus Christ to build his Church.
In Matthew 16, Jesus told Peter, as it stands in the original Greek, “I will build MY Church of ME.” Jesus announced that he would give the keys of the Kingdom to Peter along with particular functions that accompanied that authority. However, Jesus retained the rights to building his Church.
Realizing this, I do not understand why we think we can “do” church any old way we want and expect God to bless it with His presence and power. God is no longer gracing it or winking at this ignorance. It is time for the Body of Christ to grow up and be about the Father’s business………not our own.
One Final Thought Before We End This Post (Because it is getting too long.)
When we do not have God’s thoughts, our ways will not be God’s ways. (Isaiah 55) Therefore, the need for repentance (changing the way we think) is paramount. God sends His Word in order to express His thoughts. There is the written form and there is the Word that became flesh. Both expressions are alive and are to be received that we might repent and, thereby, organically have God’s Ways working in us and through us. What matters is what we “become” and exist as while being continually transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is in that transformational process of being conformed into the image of the Son that we begin to find, understand and exhibit the Will of God for our lives, both individually, as well as corporately. (Romans 12:2)
We cannot simply define or do “church” however we choose. We must have God’s mind on it. What’s more, we must conform to it.
I am amazed that the entire SPS is built around “Pastor”. We’ll get into this more later, but “Pastor”, as defined by and operating in the current church system, is NOT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT! The one time “poimen” is translated as the word “Pastor” in the New Testament scripture is found in Ephesians 4, verse 11. But, it isn’t even translated in the singular. It is translated in the plural as “PastorS”.
The definition of the word does not mean….”Super Pastor who sits in the top office of a religious hierarchy and who is responsible for everything.” Yet, this is the crux and catalyst of the entire way church is structured and operates in the Western culture. It is not God’s thought concerning the matter. Religion has made church an organization; God’s thought concerning His Church is that He birthed it to be a living organism.
“Poimei” means “to shepherd” and it is a function! A shepherd in the Near East was responsible for watching out for enemies trying to attack the sheep, defending the sheep from those attackers, healing the wounded sheep, finding and saving lost or trapped sheep, loving them and sharing their lives and earning their trust.
In scripture, Jesus Himself proclaims to be the Good Shepherd. And, in Ephesians 4, what we find is that Shepherding grace of Christ flowing through the lives of men that He (Jesus) has given to the Body of Christ as gifts from Himself. These gifts of Christ’s Shepherding grace were given for a very specific purpose and reason. They were given so that God’s People could be completely furnished and made to BE what they ought to BE!
The mere positional function and influence of Super Pastor, that has been established by religious men in the context of a religious organization, cannot accomplish this task. Again, look at the stats above. If that is what it is producing in the lives of the Pastors themselves………?
It is the relational function and authority of an accurate, Christ-like shepherding grace that accomplishes the formation of Christ in the life of a believer and releases them into function in the Body of Christ.