Generally I prefer ‘minister’ to ‘pastor’ but ‘minister’ has some real issues as well.
It is a term that’s both accurate and problematic.
It’s potentially problematic because it can give the impression that one particular person’s job is to minister to their congregation.
The people we call ministers or pastors certainly do minister (serve) others.
The problem is that we are ALL to be ministers.
Biblically speaking, ministry is not doing things that we don’t want to do or aren’t able to do.
“Ministers” are to be overseers (ensuring congregations stay faithful to God) and equippers of Christians.
Practically – let’s be honest – we expect pastors to serve us and our expectations and do certain things that we believe only they can do or do most effectively.
They are the ones who preach.
They are the ones who make visits.
They are the ones who baptize and preside over the Lord’s Supper.
They are the ones who conduct weddings and funerals.
In (biblical) reality…
Although many ‘ministers’ are gifted as teachers or communicators, many others should be able to teach the truths of the faith.
-Anybody can visit anybody. This one’s actually pretty simple.
The Bible doesn’t say anything (that I can see) about who should and shouldn’t be involved with the ordinances / sacraments.
The Bible doesn’t really say much of anything about who conducts weddings and funerals (although our laws speak to weddings).
So, wait, all the things that we hired someone to do aren’t really biblically prescribed?
So what are we expected to do?
Equipping everyone to minister.
“…to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12-13
Yes, the goal of various ministers that Jesus has given the church is to help all of his people because equipped for works of service. To minister.
Yes, we are all ministers.
Being ‘built’ up – becoming disciples – is just about being taught and served well – it’s about serving well.
Your ‘pastor’s’ job isn’t really to minister to you.
It’s to help you minister more effectively.
The responsibility of the evangelist isn’t just to share the good news with people who don’t yet know Jesus. It’s also to equip all of us to be able to share the good news.
The responsibility of a teacher isn’t just to teach, it’s also to ensure that people are learning the truth and the way of Jesus so that they are able to share what they are learning (teach) others.
The responsibility of shepherds/pastors isn’t just be cultivate relationships / connections / community and make visits. It’s also to equip the body to love and serve and care for one another well.
Don’t think that you can pay someone else to minister to you or on your behalf.
If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are a minister.
Ask your leaders not primarily to minister to you but to equip you to minister with the gifts God has given you.