Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On the Requirements for Pastoral Ministry

Here is something that has troubled me since I first got my job (less than a year ago) as an associate pastor at my little Baptist church: during the interview process I received precisely zero questions about my personal godliness.

Nothing about how consistently I read the Bible, how much time I spend in prayer, what it means to love my wife (well, she was my girlfriend-soon-to-be-fiancee then, which I made known), what kind of effort I put into evangelism, or whether the term "blameless" might come anywhere close to describing me. Now go take a look at 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 2 and come back and tell me whether you think that was a good idea.

Now, I love my church and am convinced that God has called me here. The senior pastor is godly and I respect him. I'd chalk the oversight up partly to the fact that I was recommended by a friend who I would be replacing, and partly to inexperience interviewing potential associate pastors (I am the second our church has had in our senior pastor's time here).

Thing is, at this point I am convinced that what we need more of is pastors who are bent on, above all else, growing in Christ. I once asked Jeff's and Jenny's Dad, a wise, godly, and experienced pastor, what the hardest or most important thing was about pastoring. He responded that the real key is to maintain my own walk with the Lord, and if I did that I'd be fine. I once heard J. Oswald Sanders say something similar in a sermon about how the devil will wage most of his war against pastors in the place where they do their personal devotions. More specifically, he'll try to keep you out of that place.

Not only is it plainly wise to listen to the godlier, older Christians in our lives (e.g. John Bruce and J. Oswald Sanders), but their advice rings true. Give me a bunch of church leaders who are intent on growing in Christ- who organize their lives around growing in Christ- and you're giving me a healthy church.

Amidst all the talk about what to do to fix the American church, allow me to make one simple suggestion: find the godliest men you can, and even if they are average preachers without M.Div's, put them into leadership. At least it might be a place to start.

1 comment:

Kyle Fox said...

To go along with Jeff's dad, I recently was talking with my dad (a long-time pastor, and very godly) about how he interviews for people. One of the questions he asked recently of a man they are looking at hiring for a Children's pastor was "who is the most important person you have ever led?" My dad thought the guy gave a good response when he said... "myself."