Getting older, not necessarily wiser!
Beyond basic doctrinal issue, one of the main reasons I ventured down the non denominational path is my perception of the role of a pastor as expressed in the Bible not being what I am seeing in the modern church.
In general my observation has been that in most modern churches the role of Pastor, as professional clergy, is central and key to the church organization and identity. While I have seen this split between laity (common church folk) and clergy (Professional Pastors) work in some specific situations, I have also seen it struggle, be abused, and outright fail in many other situations.
Unfortunately (or I guess fortunately) my observations of the pastoral role outlined in the new testament do not line up with the modern pastor.
In the New Testament Church there were a number of leaders, spiritual and otherwise; Elders, Overseers, Pastors, Shepherds, Preachers, and Teachers. What is interesting here is that the church leaders are always plural (more than one). While a historical argument can be made for Shepard being used as a term for leaders (kings), the importance of plurality can not be overstated, and is often overlooked in the modern church settings.
The pastor, in the New testament Church had a specific role of caring for the people. While it is my belief that the various roles of leaders in the New Testament Church overlapped, it seems that most of them, as co equals, have vanished from the leadership during the history of Christendom.
Another argument for a plurality of leaders can be made from what Paul tells us in First Corinthians 12:29-31. No one has every spiritual gift. It requites a plurality of people with a variety of spiritual gifts to lead and run a church.
Another interesting historical fact about the early church, pastors would receive gifts, but I find no evidence of a salary being paid (that is pastor is not a paid profession).
The institutionalized church system we enjoy today is a result of Greek and Roman cultural influences. Institutionalization requires a Leader and, depending on size, a bureaucratic structure. This has turned a spiritual gift into a rite of ordination. Being ordained into an office/position to empower an individual seems almost pagan in nature, like a High Priest in a Greco-Roman bureaucracy.
I will be the first to admit that as fallen individuals we have a tenancy to follow our baser urges and desires. This allows the institutionalized church system to encourage some of our baser instincts, and has two rather dire consequences.
Unfortunately, I do not see any changes in the current status quo. The institutionalized church has generated many generations of lazy church goers. And I can not blame them. Anyone who has ever served in church leadership will know what I am talking about. It is tiring and frustrating dealing with armchair quarterbacks and self appointed bureaucrats.
I do not do church leadership anymore, because most of the armchair quarterbacks and bureaucrats don’t want me or my somewhat blunt responses; If you care enough to speak up, then put up and get involved, otherwise shut up!
I am sure the majority of people seeking a career as a professional pastor do so with good intentions. at least at the start. And I am sure the majority of them do there best to maintain those good intentions.
But Pastor was never meant to be a professional salaried position. A Pastor is suppose to take care of his flock, not be a teacher or evangelist.
The job of pastor does not require a lot of schooling. Certainly no degrees. After all none of Jesus’s twelve had any formal education. To be a biblical pastor, you just need the gift of caring for people, and a desire to serve (not lead).
And this is the crux of the problem today. Pastors are seen as leaders, yet most do not have a gift for leadership. They are seen as teachers, yet most do not have a gift for teaching. They are seen as Evangelists, yet most do not have a gift for evangelism.